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Old 06-17-2005, 08:45 PM   #1
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Ok, one of the most glaring differences between the time periods (or approximations) that MUDs tend to imitate and the real time periods from history is the differences in the roles and capabilities of women. Most, if not nearly all, games have no physical differences between male and female characters despite the fact that, on average comparison, physically men are bigger, faster, and stronger.

Additionally, throughout history, women have gotten the short end of the stick in terms of equality in society. In fact, many societies have built up numerous traditions around femine attributes and differences. A good number, perhaps even a majority though I'm guessing a plurality, of MUDs are medieval and many feature some concept of chivalry. And yet, they tend to ignore the aspects of chivalry which pertain to differences in behavior and attitude toward the sexes.

Now, my questions:

What can one do, in creating a historically accurate or at least semi-historical MUD, to maintain elements of the relevant cultures while not turning off female players? I've heard several female players comment that if men and women weren't equal in every way in the game, they'd not play the said game.

Additionally, what is the general consensus as to how far gender differences, physically and far more importantly culturally, can be realistically depicted in accordance with the time period one is attempting to reproduce?

Like my economic discussion, I'm primarily concerned with RPI MUDs, so please keep that in mind.

Thanks and take care,

Jason
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Old 06-17-2005, 09:00 PM   #2
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I remember a discussion that was on a forum I used to go to about a game called Morrowind, which has distinct differences in the attributes for males and females.  For instance, a male Imperial (normal human) has more strength than a female Imperial and thus would make a better warrior or knight.  However, a female Imperial has better personality score and thus makes a better bard or merchant or something.  Anyhow, a particular woman felt the need to bring it up on the forum under the title of "sexism".  It clearly wasn't sexism, it was realistic, but it didn't make a difference.  I find that if one was to make a game without the fairy-tale complete equality for everybody, you wouldn't get as many female characters.  It's idiotic really, we're taught throughout our whole schooling that everyone is equal, but in nature each different organism has its own role and there are always going to be differences.
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Old 06-18-2005, 12:08 AM   #3
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Well, if players don't have to be the same sex as their chars, I don't see why it matters too much. And if it's fantasy, the races don't even have to be real races, so you could have humans that are just like normal humans excet that the women are as strong as men. Or you could have humans with the normal gender difference and since in most insects and spiders, the females are much bigger and stronger than the males, you could have a more insectoid/arachnid race where the females are the stronger ones.
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Old 06-18-2005, 01:17 AM   #4
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What does it matter if you're stronger or weaker than someone, anyway? Alchemists pwn j00 411.

Oh, wait, I'm discriminating against trolls. =/
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Old 06-18-2005, 01:27 AM   #5
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A preplexing problem which I have also considered. Im not sure if this works for you and your MUD, but since we can interpret the diffrent fantasy races as we wish, and ofcourse make our own races, you could have diffrent races have diffrent bonuses and weaknesses depending on gender. Perhaps for humans they might be stronger, but maybe another race the females are stronger. Maybe the males in one race excell in priestly magic, while the females perfer more offensive magic. Theres alot of ways you can go with that.
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Old 06-18-2005, 02:23 AM   #6
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Wise women of the tribe, elder women, in many human cultures have held a positon of high authority.

These can take many forms, whether it be a High Priestess, an elderly (eccentric?) witch, or a tribal council of women as was found in (what is now New England) North American native tribes. Women have held property, Queendoms, and power. Consider the contributions of Egyptian women of nobility, or of any nobility structure. Making these sorts of opportunities available to a long-standing female character would be a good way to keep some accuracy, and give females a worthwhile role to play.

However, generally, the main function of women has been and is the rearing of children. Many female players are young women, who are idealistic, and are yet without the RL responsibility of children. It is not surprising to me that this discussion is being held by males so far. "Why aren't women content to play a truly accurate historical role?" goes the cry.
"Why do they threaten to leave? That's how it *was*."

Well, the camaraderie that comes from a REAL pregnancy, the sense of 'coming into womanhood,' cannot be created in a setting where there is no REAL physical change. And, for the women of the world who now have access to birth control, and choose NOT to bear RL children, they *STILL* find themselves on the 'outside' of 'true' womanhood... a woman without children has always been considered less than a woman. These childless women, whether by choice or by chance, must fight to prove themselves as 'women' in the real world. They must EACH define 'womanhood' for themselves, and TO others. But the MOMENT a woman becomes pregnant, whether she is 14 or 44, a whole world of other women opens up to her. This is very hard to explain... I wish I could do this phenomen justice, but I am unable. Words fail, but the experience is life-altering. There is no way to re-create this experience in text. There is no way male programmers or builders can even BEGIN to tap into this. There is no way to show the TRUE impact of children in womens' lives... in a pretend world. It's nearly impossible to get men to understand it in the REAL world.

Now, in a truly historically accurate setting, how many women will have to die in childbirth? Not out fighting alongside their comrades in battle, but simply die in childbirth? How many female players are you going to ask to do this? Womens' lives are not glamorous. Aside from the types of examples I've mentioned above, they *never* were, and even those examples always came with a price. I see the banner ads here talking about 'lording over dynasties' and 'ruling with an iron fist' and whatnot. If you seek true historical accuracy, you are asking women who STILL fight for equality, who STILL fight to be taken seriously in the workplace, who STILL have to choose between childcare and their career, to take a step back to when they didn't even have THIS much say over thier own lives.

Where would it end, in this 'accurate' historical setting? Rapes depicted graphically in poses, so that your female pbase gets to feel THAT (again) whenever you choose to 'have your way with the wench'? Die rolls to determine if however many years plus 9 months of RP is destroyed bringing a NPC child into the world, by the death of the character? Beatings? Numerous NPC children to be tended, so that the female player never has time to interact with other adult players? There's your accuracy, right there.

Women don't want to play in a pretend world where they have no opportunity for greatness. NOBODY does. Some people may be content to play 'lesser' characters, non-nobles, etc, but if 'historical accuracy' is imperative, and women are to be 'kept in their historical place,' well... then... don't expect 21st century women, with hundreds of years of womens' advancements to want to step back into that. The fact is, we don't *want* to be treated like chattel. Whores, maybe, because then, WE get to define what we do. But property? Less than property? Less than human?

No.

We've come too far.

Now, many of the ideas in this thread so far, i.e. arachnid races that favor the female, human races where a female has an opportunity to succeed through use of extra charisma, that can work. But if you are looking to make MU* life 'historically accurate,' then, some male players need to take the female roles, the roles that make a human being 'less than' other human beings, and see how THEY like it.

In a historically accurate setting, NOBODY would want to BE a woman. Life has traditionally sucked for females across cultures and time. Why, when we are still fighting this 'equality battle' in real life, would we want to spend our free time doing it? It is dehumanizing, in a world that *can* make people feel superhuman.

If you want historically accurate females, make NPCs. Let your real female pbase *have* the ego boost that a game can provide. Don't reserve that privelege for your male pbase, or force female players into male roles so that they can be treated as equals. Or, don't expect accuracy. Nobody wants to be a serf forever.
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Old 06-18-2005, 07:15 AM   #7
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I have to agree with Earthmother, I think when it comes to the roles of women in a historical context, you need to be exceedingly careful. Realism is not always a good thing - even if it's a RPI MU* playability is still more important.

Some things are acceptable, such as this strength/charisma balance you've talked about, as there is still an overall equality. However, Earthmother is entirely right that 21st century women will not take kindly to playing in a setting where there is not any overall equality, as there was not in most historical cultures.

Even in the honoured positions you spoke about, such as the women's council and High Priestess, they never had any choice in the matter. They were even selected from birth in the case of the High Priestess (in many societies). In a European history context, men could be farmers, warriors, a politician (most villages had a mayor), women did not have all of these choices. They helped with whatever their husband did, that was it.

Realism versus gameplay is a tricky balance at the best of times, with something that directly affects your playerbase in everything they do in the game, it's all the more so. Be careful!
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Old 06-18-2005, 09:03 AM   #8
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Armageddon employs a simple solution, even if it's admittedly not perfect (particularly in the case of newer players) - men and women are completely equal, physically and socially. Women still get pregnant and can die in childbirth, but I've never heard of this happening against the will of the player.
The basic concept of it all is that life is so cheap and so hard that nobody really cares if you're a man, or a woman, or both. In theory, a damsel in distress will receive no more help than a dude in distress. Again, sometimes a newer player might have a bit of difficulty adjusting, but eventually they do.

Armageddon has no real world racism (sex, coloration), but plenty of IC racism. Like half-elves. Nobody likes a half-elf.

I think that's about as good a solution as you can get. Making a real historically-accurate RPI probably isn't all that good an idea anyway. Want to repeatedly kill off your entire playerbase because of the black plague?
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Old 06-18-2005, 01:05 PM   #9
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This came up as an issue on Chia not that long ago, on the message boards.

Chia doesn't have an equal society. The army won't accept females at all, the church army doesn't like males much (although eunuchs are okay), and especially in lower nobility-type circles there are a bunch of social strictures. If you're powerful enough, or inconsequential enough, no one much cares about female decorum, though.

This leaves room for players who want to play independent females - church knights, for instance, are strong female warriors, while there is political room for various kinds of strong female personalities in high-ranking noble circles, and commoners can kinda slide by however they want - but it also leaves room for people who want to play a bit more of the restrained, constrained female roles.

When this came up on the forums, it was decided that an active social structure was important. Chia is very heavily drama- and interpersonally-centred, so gossip circles, sewing circles, and child-parent RP (some families have three generations represented by players, and arranged marriages &c add spice to that) give a canvas for 'feminine intrigues' take place.

So: give places to RP for people who want to do feminine stuff that isn't fighting (as in, actual rooms, events, things to do), give some female roles that aren't submissively or constrainedly feminine so you don't get people who want to play females forced into the constrained roles and then trying to rebel against them, and definitely make multiple chars an option. Almost all the people who sucessfully play females over the long term also have a male char tucked away somewhere, even if only for the occasional rainy day when there's nowhere females can go that also contains people.
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Old 06-18-2005, 03:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (dragon master @ June 18 2005,01)
you could have a more insectoid/arachnid race where the females are the stronger ones.
The Drow of D&D fame have a social structure in which women tend to have more power, being the only ones eligible to be Lolth's priestesses.  I'm a bit disappointed that this is not shown in most MUD's with Dark Elves, they usually ignore the whole unique social structure and make them another generic race alongside normal elves, dwarves, and humans.  It's sad that unique races with decidedly different ideals and societies are reduced to this caste of generic humanoids where the only noticeable difference is that one of them is better at "magic" than the other one.
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Old 06-18-2005, 03:52 PM   #11
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Greenstorm and Chia's ideas are right on the money. If you want women to play, you have to find ways to acknowledge their contributions. You have to understand a woman's world. You have to value the things that they do naturally: interaction, community, housework, raising children.

I suspect it helps to have women on staff. I also suspect that it helps to acknowledge the importance of emotions within females. The 'little things' that males blow off can be some of the most IMPORTANT things that women deal with.

The town gossip is a staple of ANY community, no matter how poorly she may be looked upon. Hookers will tell you that 3/4th of their job is *talking* to the guy, not the sex. Women function one-to-one very often, men tend to depersonalize situations, so that they don't HAVE to deal with others' emotions. (Example: war. 'nuff said.) The old saying that, "Behind every great man is a good woman" has great truth. I applaud Chia for giving these 'women's roles' the importance and recognition they deserve, and for giving them playspace within the game.
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Old 06-18-2005, 04:36 PM   #12
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It's funny you say that, Earthmother, about whores. I actually run brothel and church-type areas of Chia's world, and just realised that both of those are woman-centric in that world. Hadn't realised what the link was before.

As for customers there to talk, whew! Too many men have watched Pretty Woman.

Re: Drow, back a bit, I remember that being one of the most interesting aspects of the society, back when I was looking into D&D-themey-stuff. Is there any roleplay-immersive sort of place that has a working drow society?

As an aside note, too, on what keeps women happy: I mentioned the family with three generations of PC characters. What I didn't mention was husbands. Right now, eligible men get snapped up quickly, because kids/parents/husbands are the three Big Important Bits of a woman's life. Anyone wanting to play any of those roles is in high demand, but few people want to play very young or relatively old people (though with marriage as young as 14, you can be a grown-up's mummy and not be totally decrepit). This, husband-wife is the default Big Important Relationship in a woman's life to roleplay.

The world is strange. I remember playing on so many places where I, as a female char in most cases, was a hot commodity.
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Old 06-18-2005, 04:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Earthmother @ June 18 2005,03:23)
Wise women of the tribe, elder women, in many human cultures have held a positon of high authority.

These can take many forms, whether it be a High Priestess, an elderly (eccentric?) witch, or a tribal council of women as was found in (what is now New England) North American native tribes. Women have held property, Queendoms, and power. Consider the contributions of Egyptian women of nobility, or of any nobility structure. Making these sorts of opportunities available to a long-standing female character would be a good way to keep some accuracy, and give females a worthwhile role to play.

However, generally, the main function of women has been and is the rearing of children. Many female players are young women, who are idealistic, and are yet without the RL responsibility of children. It is not surprising to me that this discussion is being held by males so far. "Why aren't women content to play a truly accurate historical role?" goes the cry.
"Why do they threaten to leave? That's how it *was*."
Actually, in all those examples you gave, men still held power even if it was passed through the female lineage.  As for a few exceptions in male-dominated societies, like a couple female pharoahs, they had to assume the trappings of a male (even wearing the ceremonial beards) in order to rule or played upon their femininity to secure the power they had.  Cleopatra for example romanced both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony (by the way, based on coins minted by Cleo, we know she was anything but physically attractive so it leaves the question of what methods she used...she must have been talented in some areas best not discussed here).

I'm reminded of a friend who took a medieval literature class and the professor instead assigned the students feminist literature.  He was pretty upset since as a medieval historian, he wanted to study medieval literature, not 19th and 20th century feminist literature (that professor should have been fired, never found out if they were though) and finally he couldn't contain his anger any more.  After the professor lectured one day about "matriarchal societies in history", he raised his hand and asked her with all the self-control he could manage, "Name ONE matriarchal society in history."  Alas she could not prompting his reply, "That's right, because historically there weren't any."  Then he marched out, contacted the Registrar's office, and dropped the class.  But I digress.

I'd personally challenge the statement of "...that was how it *was*" as well because that's still how it is in some ways.  The glass ceiling is still in place and sexism is sadly just as prevalent now as ever.  Studies have shown that women continue to earn less than their male counterparts for the same work.  It's not right and I agree that such discrimination should be actively stomped out.

But believing that women have to take a step back when playing a historical MUD is overlooking reality in more ways than one.  The players should be treated equal even if the characters aren't.  They're all held to the same standards and enforcement is static across the board and regardless of gender.  And in the case of most RPIs, characters are discriminated against in all sorts of ways.

If the game has nobility, the commoners are in no way equal to nobles.  If the game has clergy, the clergy may well have rights that the laity don't.  Any game that features a power structure of leadership puts some players at a disadvantage.  The case of nobility, as noted above, is the best example since nobility invariably have rights and wealth and power that the commoner simply can not and will not ever have.  Additionally, there's also nothing which prevents a male player from taking a female role or vice versa so just as a player wanting a position of power would have to begin as a noble, it's just as feasible to use gender instead of social standing in that context.

Fortunately, in the setting I'm working with, physical strength isn't that important and hence either way, be it equal or different, male and female characters would be on the same playing field for the most part.  The social structure is what causes problems.  I'm hoping to avoid knee-jerk reactions like Earthmother's but alas I'm sure someone will draw offense from a semi-accurate (going to try and find ways to equalize it a bit, but doing so really does damage the social structure so I've got to be careful) setting.

Fortunately, looking at the social setting carefully, one does find social constraints upon both men and women, simply of a different nature that most people tend to overlook.  Additionally, for the poor and even the middle-class, despite a couple differences, greater equality is definitely seen in most societies.  However, the inequality becomes far more visible at the top of the social structure and there lies the problem.  Of course, initially, PCs won't begin anywhere near the top of the social structure so the problem could easily be pushed aside and dealt with later.  Despite my well-deserved reputation as a procrastinator, I'm choosing to address it now in the VERY early stages rather than later.

As genders tend to equalize far more at the bottom of society than they do at the top, it seems obvious to start at the top where the problem is the greatest.  However, without securing a foundation, building the top of a structure inevitably leads to collapse.  Things being far more equal at the lower levels of society, we still find that some problems can occur.

Abuse, quite rampant in most societies regardless of the social attitudes toward it, occurs.  This is rather easily solved by a "mutual consent of RP" policy for the game (which many RPIs have) in which both parties must agree to the RP of such actions before they can take place.  Then, there should be a cultural response to such actions within the context of the game's society.  If abuse's considered a crime, there should be a societal reaction to it.  This is where that double-edged sword called chivalry, double-edged because it tends to divide men and women socially but fortunately puts strict regulations on the behavior of both, can be effective.

Now what of opportunity?  Well, this is a bit more difficult not to mention expansive.  There are many different types of opportunity across a wide array of fields.  Let's begin with economics.  Now we begin to see some discrimination.

At the bottom of the economic ladder, men and women tend to be more equal.  Anyone of either gender, to say nothing of children, have to contribute to the generation of income if survival is to occur in some societies.  While even in the most primitive clan-based societies, men will boast of being hunters but it is in fact women who do most of the food providing.  Meat tends to be emphasized, but most cultures throughout history have not depended upon meat to any significant degree for sustinence (only within the last two-hundred years does meat start to take a larger role in people's diets, a fact most "medieval" MUDs miserably fail to take into account).  It is the cultivation of grains and other crops which have fed the populace (note that hunter-gatherer is never associated with civilization while the first cities and states invariably cropped up around the fertile lands near rivers).  So we tend to achieve economic equality when it comes to the lower classes merely for the need to generate the income needed to survive (child-raising often put women out of this process, but only until the children were old enough to begin contributing themselves).  But what of the situation as we climb the economic ladder?

As we move up the economic scale toward specific trades beyond labor, we begin to see opportunities diverge.  Some fields tend to be dominated by men, others by women.  This is often the earliest point at which the cry of inequality occurs, since it is clearly the point in which inequality begins to factor in.  However, this inequality swings both ways, since some fields are dominated by men while others by women.  However, it is true that those dominated by women tend to be fewer and less lucrative than their counterparts'.  How then to solve this problem?  I have to admit I don't have an easy answer to this question for if I did, I'd not be bringing this topic before the forum for discussion.  The only fault I can see in many MUD economies is that they fail to diversify the economic field wide enough to accomodate those fields which provide more opportunities for women.  Regardless, economic opportunity at this level can be widened a bit while still remaining within the cultural model without damaging it as long as it's done carefully.  Alas, some differentiation will still have to exist, but if the diversity of opportunity is wide enough, a few exceptions will likely elicit far less rejection.

As we climb the economic scale, the problem only grows larger.  And yet, we find a bit of a solution as well.  Gone are the trades, for in many societies touching money and working were considered below one's station if wealthy.  As wealth often equates to power, it is here that economics and class converge and so attention must now be turned to social inequality as it relates to power.

At the bottom of society, power is limited.  However, power is relative and even within a social class there is stratification (only egalitarian socities, which very few MUDs implement and very few players adequately understand the concept of, would be exceptions to this) to some degree.  In other words, there's usually a pecking order of some nature based on other factors.  As such, it is the inequality within social class that most affects power since a noble, regardless of gender, has rights and privelages of station not shared by those beneath them.  Thus, we must look outside of social power and to political power.  Here too, social standing plays a role for most political power is wielded by the "upper classes".  Barring noble peers though, we do find men have the advantage by a great margin.  Throughout history, societies reserved the avenues of power, economic and political, to men.  Suffrage was one of those methods (though the observant will note that economic power was just as important in this regard as well since even in "democracies" like the U.S., there were restrictions on who could wield power based upon such things as ownership of land, etc.) by which equality and political power was restricted to men alone.

So, do we extend the vote to women in a MUD set in a time period where no such concept was thought of, much less debated?  I have often found that the problem with power as depicted by MUDs and, even more so, demonstrated by players is that they don't understand the nuances of power and that one need not have an ability to exercise that ability.  A wealthy woman, for example, could easily have political influence without the right to vote through the application of her wealth upon those who do have that right.  Again, you see that power is relative.  

So the question remains with the best possible answer being summed up by a friend of mine.  "The players that want to RP in [a specific historical] setting will want the realism," she said.  Of course, one should try to make it more available by lessoning some of the harsher inequalities of a historical setting, but bending completely out of the setting makes the setting irrelevant.  A historical setting that does not employ the culture, even if modified slightly, of that given time might as well introduce lightsabers and Klingons.

Thoughts?  Comments?

Take care,

Jason
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Old 06-18-2005, 05:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Earthmother @ June 18 2005,16:52)
Greenstorm and Chia's ideas are right on the money. If you want women to play, you have to find ways to acknowledge their contributions. You have to understand a woman's world. You have to value the things that they do naturally: interaction, community, housework, raising children.

I suspect it helps to have women on staff. I also suspect that it helps to acknowledge the importance of emotions within females. The 'little things' that males blow off can be some of the most IMPORTANT things that women deal with.

The town gossip is a staple of ANY community, no matter how poorly she may be looked upon. Hookers will tell you that 3/4th of their job is *talking* to the guy, not the sex. Women function one-to-one very often, men tend to depersonalize situations, so that they don't HAVE to deal with others' emotions. (Example: war. 'nuff said.) The old saying that, "Behind every great man is a good woman" has great truth. I applaud Chia for giving these 'women's roles' the importance and recognition they deserve, and for giving them playspace within the game.
Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. Most MUDs, and many players, fail to create a realistic environment on every level, specifically in regard to aspects and roles that women traditionally held (and valued).

There's far more to medieval times, for example, than knights and warfare.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 06-18-2005, 06:08 PM   #15
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[quote=Earthmother,June 18 2005,03:23]
Quote:
Originally Posted by
In a historically accurate setting, NOBODY would want to BE a woman. Life has traditionally sucked for females across cultures and time.
I think by modern standards life sucked for the vast majority of people, male and female, for most of history; and in the poorer half of the world still does. I don't think that the problem is so much that women have had it harder (that is a discussion I don't feel qualified to debate); I think for MUDs the problem is that a traditional woman's "role" is one that doesn't make for interesting game play. For example in 1916 I'm pretty sure it's fair to say that being a young man fighting in the trenches of France "sucked", but I bet it would be easier to make a MUD where characters were WW1 soldiers than one where you played the role of a woman living out her life in 1916.

It wouldn't be impossible to create a MUD where gameplay revolved around the role of a woman, although it might be harder. Truth be told though it wouldn't attract much audience. A friend recently told me that women's ambitions to be housemakers and mothers are at their highest since the 1950s. This may well be true, however I'm not sure that the same could be said of MUD players - and besides I don't necessarily want to play a character with the same aspirations as me so why should any woman?

The way I'd look at it is that PCs should be able to be something more than the normal person. Afterall that's what makes the game interesting. Even if you play an ordinary character you'd want them to experience extraordinary circumstances. Why else would you play? Most men spent their lives farming, fishing or some other mundane activity, few spent their lives adventuring. So even if you want historical accuracy your PCs don't have to be the norm.

As for making women not so fast/strong and making up for it in other ways is easy enough. To do that accurately though might be hard in a combat heavy MUD (sniping is the only military activity I know of where women usually match men).  However you may not need to make them unequal, I have observed that female characters (and even more so female players) tend to advance more slowly in conventional MUDs. I'd guess this is because they spend more time in social activities and less time sitting and killing things (they seem to make friends faster). That might be enough to create a realistic difference. I like the idea of races where females are stronger than males. I'd be interested to see if female elves would be more popular than female spider-people even if the latter were significantly more powerful.
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Old 06-19-2005, 12:20 AM   #16
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Aw, I forget which philosopher said that human life is "nasty, brutish, and short." English dude, I'm not googling it.

*HE* was right on, too. Life sucks for everyone, and in the immortal words of Denis Leary, "Get a F*****g helmet."

Prof1515, you seek to smooth out something that is impossible: you seek 'realism' and yet claim my (or other womens' ) reactions are 'knee-jerk.' Guess what... *that's* how women function.

You and Maraz are very correct in saying that life is/was pretty crappy for all involved. I've been trying to point out that the inequalities *still* exist. But on a fundamental level, realism in a game means that life's gonna suck for EVERYONE. Prof1515, I've no idea what your game is like, and if it is as in depth as you describe, then, why are you *worrying* about what females think? Why are you trying to cater to that demographic? They will either like/accept the world you have, and play there, or they won't.

Chicks will suck it up, just like the guys will. They will find the way they fit into the world, into the economy, and they will do it in as 'realistic' a fashion as your world allows. MU*s are not a democracy... they're a dictatorship. The owner/head IMM has final say. Shoot for the 'accuracy' that *you* perceive is necessary, and let what players who will come fill out the roles there are for them.

And if you don't like/expect knee-jerk reactions, then, don't try and cater to women. Put the roles of each gender/race/anything as YOU see fit, and those who agree with you and are willing to play what is there will play. Women know what they do. They know who they are, and what roles they are willing to accept. Don't short-change your realism, if it gives you heartache, to try and placate the 'fairer sex.'

Prof1515, your response to my 'knee-jerk' reaction just saddens me. Watching you miss the point what I'm trying to get across makes me sigh. You, like so many men, still today, think 'power' IS wealth. See, me, *I* think 'power' is getting my husband to help with the dishes. Women's power *is* their emotional and mental grasp of relationships and societal responsibilities. Women and men's very CONCEPT of 'power' differs. A female in a game can wield a LOT of power, through the things she does entirely behind the scenes. This is not so much different than the 'woman behind the man' who smoothes his troubled brow late at night, when he comes home from the politician's (or whatever 'high-powered position) office.  It is not so different than the reasoned-if-emotional response a woman gives to a man, when he has a troubling situation that he needs to talk out.

<edit>
Upon re-reading your post, I see that on some level you *do* comprehend this. Your problems seem to come from not being able to make women understand that this is how they really function. I can understand your frustration with this situation, as a lot of women I know don't know how to use or wield their own personal power. If you want your game to encourage this, make sure the behind-the-scenes things get some in-game reward.
<end edit>

So, build your realism. Maraz is *right* when s/he says female characters tend to advance more slowly, and the reasons s/he gives are right, too. The things that female players *do* in-game are not the things that tend to be part of the game's advancement structure. But, you all seem to want us there, nonetheless. We *add* that social dimension to the game. It seems to be difficult to quantify that added value, since it tends to be more private. I find myself in this hole on my home game: I spend a LOT of time 'telling' to folks, because THAT is what I do best. I HELP them, but silently. That time cannot be captured in my session, and in fact, in my game, it is *detrimental* to my character, because time spent killing is a valid 'toplist' ranking, and my chat time drags down my kill ratio, thus aging my character without the amount of kills that male players might have made within that same time frame. My game and its toplist rankings are male-centric, not because they *meant* it to be, but because a guy coded what he could QUANTIFY. I'm pretty dang sure he didn't *mean* to hold back female characters/players, but in essence, quantifying what the code can capture has simply put chatty females at a disadvantage. (We're hack-n-slash, we should be out killing, not interacting, so this is a valid thing, and I don't complain about it in-game. But it IS an example of how male coders work with the quantifiable, and how difficult it is to reward the intangibles women provide.)

My basic point is this: it is very difficult for men to acknowledge and reward the contributions of women, whether the setting is whatever historical time period, or the world we live in right here, right now. We *do*, as Greenstorm mentions, look for a mate/husband, and we use our power and influence over that ONE man. And, men are HAPPY to BE the center of a woman's attention. You can give a man all the power in the world, he's still gonna leave his semen on some intern's skirt, because she told him how wonderful he is. So, make your world what you want. Adjust it as problems arise. You may find, to your surprise, that the women will cope and play, no matter how much forethought you try and put into it. Toughen up, man. When the chicks whine about 'inequality,' say what you'd say to a guy: "This is MY game, if you don't like it, find somewhere else to play."
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Old 06-19-2005, 07:01 AM   #17
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"nasty, brutish, and short." - Thomas Hobbes I think.

The points made about MUDs typically rewarding male activities is something that is an interesting issue. I find it odd that text based games are not more popular with girls. Girls tend to read more, and I would have thought that most of them would apreciate the community aspect of online games (Guys I think like the competition). I think any designers should keep in mind that there is a large female audience out there which could be potentially attracted by changing the emphasis away from looting and combat. Of course you'd need to think about how to target that audience with advertising etc.
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Old 06-19-2005, 08:51 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Earthmother @ June 19 2005,01:20)
Aw, I forget which philosopher said that human life is "nasty, brutish, and short." English dude, I'm not googling it.

*HE* was right on, too. Life sucks for everyone, and in the immortal words of Denis Leary, "Get a F*****g helmet."

Prof1515, you seek to smooth out something that is impossible: you seek 'realism' and yet claim my (or other womens' ) reactions are 'knee-jerk.' Guess what... *that's* how women function.

You and Maraz are very correct in saying that life is/was pretty crappy for all involved. I've been trying to point out that the inequalities *still* exist. But on a fundamental level, realism in a game means that life's gonna suck for EVERYONE. Prof1515, I've no idea what your game is like, and if it is as in depth as you describe, then, why are you *worrying* about what females think? Why are you trying to cater to that demographic? They will either like/accept the world you have, and play there, or they won't.

Chicks will suck it up, just like the guys will. They will find the way they fit into the world, into the economy, and they will do it in as 'realistic' a fashion as your world allows. MU*s are not a democracy... they're a dictatorship. The owner/head IMM has final say. Shoot for the 'accuracy' that *you* perceive is necessary, and let what players who will come fill out the roles there are for them.

And if you don't like/expect knee-jerk reactions, then, don't try and cater to women. Put the roles of each gender/race/anything as YOU see fit, and those who agree with you and are willing to play what is there will play. Women know what they do. They know who they are, and what roles they are willing to accept. Don't short-change your realism, if it gives you heartache, to try and placate the 'fairer sex.'

Prof1515, your response to my 'knee-jerk' reaction just saddens me. Watching you miss the point what I'm trying to get across makes me sigh. You, like so many men, still today, think 'power' IS wealth. See, me, *I* think 'power' is getting my husband to help with the dishes. Women's power *is* their emotional and mental grasp of relationships and societal responsibilities. Women and men's very CONCEPT of 'power' differs. A female in a game can wield a LOT of power, through the things she does entirely behind the scenes. This is not so much different than the 'woman behind the man' who smoothes his troubled brow late at night, when he comes home from the politician's (or whatever 'high-powered position) office.  It is not so different than the reasoned-if-emotional response a woman gives to a man, when he has a troubling situation that he needs to talk out.

<edit>
Upon re-reading your post, I see that on some level you *do* comprehend this. Your problems seem to come from not being able to make women understand that this is how they really function. I can understand your frustration with this situation, as a lot of women I know don't know how to use or wield their own personal power. If you want your game to encourage this, make sure the behind-the-scenes things get some in-game reward.
<end edit>

So, build your realism. Maraz is *right* when s/he says female characters tend to advance more slowly, and the reasons s/he gives are right, too. The things that female players *do* in-game are not the things that tend to be part of the game's advancement structure. But, you all seem to want us there, nonetheless. We *add* that social dimension to the game. It seems to be difficult to quantify that added value, since it tends to be more private. I find myself in this hole on my home game: I spend a LOT of time 'telling' to folks, because THAT is what I do best. I HELP them, but silently. That time cannot be captured in my session, and in fact, in my game, it is *detrimental* to my character, because time spent killing is a valid 'toplist' ranking, and my chat time drags down my kill ratio, thus aging my character without the amount of kills that male players might have made within that same time frame. My game and its toplist rankings are male-centric, not because they *meant* it to be, but because a guy coded what he could QUANTIFY. I'm pretty dang sure he didn't *mean* to hold back female characters/players, but in essence, quantifying what the code can capture has simply put chatty females at a disadvantage. (We're hack-n-slash, we should be out killing, not interacting, so this is a valid thing, and I don't complain about it in-game. But it IS an example of how male coders work with the quantifiable, and how difficult it is to reward the intangibles women provide.)

My basic point is this: it is very difficult for men to acknowledge and reward the contributions of women, whether the setting is whatever historical time period, or the world we live in right here, right now. We *do*, as Greenstorm mentions, look for a mate/husband, and we use our power and influence over that ONE man. And, men are HAPPY to BE the center of a woman's attention. You can give a man all the power in the world, he's still gonna leave his semen on some intern's skirt, because she told him how wonderful he is. So, make your world what you want. Adjust it as problems arise. You may find, to your surprise, that the women will cope and play, no matter how much forethought you try and put into it. Toughen up, man. When the chicks whine about 'inequality,' say what you'd say to a guy: "This is MY game, if you don't like it, find somewhere else to play."
Bond: This gun, looks more like it was made for a woman.
Largo: You know a lot about guns, Mr. Bond?
Bond: No. But I know a little about women.

In response, Earthmother, I'm trying to create a game that people will enjoy while simultaneously maintaining a culture that fits with the approximate time-period it's set in. Now, the game will be RPI, so in other words, the goal is not most of the male-centric mechanical rewards that most MUDs offer but rather role-play of the type that accurately maintains in-character behavior according to the setting. Nevertheless, one wants to create a game where the harshness, while representative of historical setting, is not too hindering so as to make the game unplayable. Although, I might point out that if an RPI's too soft on the harsher aspects of reality I've found that many PCs tire of it...they like the challenge of overcoming some harshness to create and role-play their character...adversity really does add to RP.

And I do understand the concept of power and how it is, as I said, relative. Sadly, I doubt that all PCs do understand that and I'd like to make them understand it better.

In regard to "knee-jerk reactions", I meant it pretty much as you reacted. As you said, upon re-reading my post, your impression was different. My goal is to try and avoid responses like your initial one because I truly agree with your perspective and am not trying to make the game unfair.

In fact, I spent about 30 of the last 48 hours (a guy's got to sleep, eat, and check his email after all) thinking about ways to incorporate family structure into the MUD in a manner that would encourage PCs to look into a more realistic portrayal of it. Additionally, I toyed with many different ideas to facilitate that aspect of role-play, since it is rather vital to many facets of life in the historical setting I'm working on.

As for in-game rewards, good RP is always to be rewarded and there won't be an exception here either. In the aforementioned 48 hours, much of my thought has been directed with the intention of methods of rewarding and advantages of such rewards for the role-play and recognition of family as it pertains to the setting and how to reflect those advantages without imbalancing the setting and the game (this is after all, not a H&S, so rewards like equipment are out and non-combat equipment or money would simply imbalance the economy).

Yeah, I probably need more of a life but I figure that if I'm creating a MUD, I ought to try and do it as well as I possibly can and in a manner as enjoyable as possible for those who play it.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 06-19-2005, 11:09 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (prof1515 @ June 19 2005,09:51)
Bond:  This gun, looks more like it was made for a woman.
Largo:  You know a lot about guns, Mr. Bond?
Bond:  No.  But I know a little about women.
Point 1:  Funny you should say this, because it is my impression that 'a little' is what you know about adult women. And, citing that bastion of maleness, James Bond, pretty much shows me where you get your ideas about them. Your concern over 'chivalry' and the title of the topic also shows me a LOT about how you view women.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
And I do understand the concept of power and how it is, as I said, relative.  Sadly, I doubt that all PCs do understand that and I'd like to make them understand it better.
Point 2:  I have serious doubt as to how much you understand the differentiation in power: the 'rich' woman you cited early influences policy through her money alone. You have not yet dealt with the other ways in which women have power. I wonder how much you intend to try and teach people, and how successful you will be with it. Perhaps if you created the world, and then learned from watching how your players play, you could learn and teach at the same time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
In regard to "knee-jerk reactions", I meant it pretty much as you reacted.  As you said, upon re-reading my post, your impression was different.  My goal is to try and avoid responses like your initial one because I truly agree with your perspective and am not trying to make the game unfair.
Point 3:  Only my impression of your grasp of "womens' power" was slightly different after the re-read. I noticed you DID include a RICH woman, who uses her economic position for political influence. That is why I give you credit for understanding it 'on some level,' but that level STILL is an economic and political level, rather than an emotional and personal level. Furthermore, my initial response offered long-term 'goal' positions that a female player could grow into, which you blew off as 'oh, even these were male dominated,' and then went on to misconstrue and negate the rest of my post as 'knee-jerk.' I had intended to offer you some abstract suggestions that you could springboard off, and I had hoped you would take them and see that they were the kinds of things you could incorporate as 'long term rewards' for female players. You chose to view them as merely limitations. I was not trying to imply there had ever been matriarchial societies, rather, I was attempting to show you that womens' lives had been lived where the women living them grew into respected community positions. I also wrote that these enculturated inequalities still exist, in many forms. You would do better if you read and comprehended what is written, rather than assuming I was on a Feminazi High Horse. I really wasn't. I was only trying to offer suggestions, not make a case for the historical matriarchial society theory. Nor was I trying to imply that sufferage should be included in your world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
In fact, I spent about 30 of the last 48 hours (a guy's got to sleep, eat, and check his email after all) thinking about ways to incorporate family structure into the MUD in a manner that would encourage PCs to look into a more realistic portrayal of it.  Additionally, I toyed with many different ideas to facilitate that aspect of role-play, since it is rather vital to many facets of life in the historical setting I'm working on.

As for in-game rewards, good RP is always to be rewarded and there won't be an exception here either. Yeah, I probably need more of a life but I figure that if I'm creating a MUD, I ought to try and do it as well as I possibly can and in a manner as enjoyable as possible for those who play it.
Point 4:  If you give women the possibility of growing into something great, whether they are tracked into it from birth/character creation or whether it can be earned within the locality where they live out their peasant lives, they will accept all the limitations that come with it. That 'something great' could be variances of my High Priestesses, town gossips, brothel madams, or women's council who discuss matters pertaining to religion or town standards or whatever, or EVEN a mother with successful children, and a content husband. Women will enjoy playing these roles, so long as there is a social stratus to climb, and men to influence. Plus, if you build the world, leave some room for your female players to fill out the social strata. That's what they do best. Leave it open-ended, and SEE what they seem to want to become. Then, let them become it. *THAT* is true equality... giving women the _opportunity_ to become what they want to become. They're not going to destroy your accuracy, they will simply grow into the roles they choose there. It really MIGHT be better to 'procrastinate' this process, and see if it actually BECOMES a problem, rather than assuming it will.
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Old 06-19-2005, 11:11 AM   #20
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Nevertheless, one wants to create a game where the harshness, while representative of historical setting, is not too hindering so as to make the game unplayable.
I don't think that "harshness" is what makes the game unplayable but rather the mundane. While players may be happy to roleplay their character being tortured or being wounded in combat, they are less likely to want to roleplay an average persons life. In many ways I think this is why it is so difficult to portray women accurately - most of the exciting roles were played by men.

What kind of period were you planning on? I'm guessing medieval, but I don't think you mentioned the period.
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