Bringing Women to the Game
Women are essential to the health and growth of any excellent role-playing game, for they enhance the romantic elements of any fantasy game. In addition, they can be a strong stabilizing force in any guild, clan, or religion. What attracts women to a game? The answer of that question, of course, also depends on the woman. For me, there a few key factors I look for nowadays.
POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH: Clan, Religion, and Class
Most women love to nurture and build something intangible but vital to the game. I always look for a clan or a religion that I can throw my character into supporting and building. It is, thus, important for me to find a game that allows this.
Many games have clans, religions, or class structures, but most of them are in stasis. For example, one of the games that I have played has deities, but there is no difference or animosity between them. The result is that no one ever roleplays following any particular deity. Since no one bothers with the religions, the clerics become little more than self-healing fighting machines. I must note that approximately 80% of the cleric's guild in this particular game are male.
My home mud has an extremely advanced religion system that provides for instant enemies and allies. They each have their set of beliefs that can be likened to the ancient myths of Greece and Rome. Joining a religion has definite consequences, and thus, religion creates definitive groups that can be nurtured and groomed. The efforts a player makes in the religion actually helps the growth of the group, and that is something that appeals to be greatly as a woman. A cleric in this game has the ability to guide, support, and strengthen a given religion. It is no surprise that more than half the guild is played by women. We have a standard joke in the guild that if a given religion is not run by a woman, it can expect a lot of trouble.
HOME AND HEARTH: Home Improvement 101
Many women enjoy having a place they can call "home" in the mud, be that a clan abode, a castle, or a simple house- as long as they can call it "mine". This would be a place that they can develop and personalize on their own. It can be as simple as a room in which they can write their own descriptions or a place they can have coded for them.
My second mud has very little that can be personalized. In fact, the most "personalized" anything can become is to have a player's name put onto a mug of ale. It is not surprising that I have run into probably ten women total on the mud. On the other hand, my home mud is approximately 40-45% women. There are tons of things to personalize: the character description, houses, clan abodes, and clothing items to name just a few.
Women also love to find food items on the mud that amuse them, appeal to them, or irritate them. It also allows them to roleplay, "OOOO, I love apples!" or "YUCK! I hate pickled toad toes!" Never under estimate the wooing power of a favorite piece of food!
COMMUNITY ORIENTATION: Being part of a village
Most women enjoy a community environment such as iVillage.com. A mud with a strong feel of a community will appeal greatly to women. This means that they have a place to vent if there is trouble, and a place to rejoice if there is success. Several muds create forums on their webpages or icq/AIM listings for players. Others, such as my secondary mud, have a mud photo album. They keep a website of pictures of their players, and people can then put a face to the name.
Encouraging a mud to bond as a community will give everyone a more stable place to play regardless of gender.
These factors are not ALL that women look for, and it's not every woman that looks for them. Some men look for the same sort of things, and some women look for other things. This article is based on three and a half years of observation of the mudding community from a woman's perspective.
Dalaena has been mudding for three and a half years and gaming for fifteen years (as player and gamemaster). She finds her online home at Threshold RPG which can be located on the web at the following URL:
You can email her at email@example.com. Please look me up if you get online!