Shakespeare at least had Viola.

Apparently, I’m exercising the power and privilege of my gender by criticising the idea that we should actually de-cliché a cliché in order to make everyone feel secure about themselves. (Question: if a cliché is de-fanged, doesn’t it become meaningless?)

The author goes on to criticise my statistics because the sample size is not representative and I wasn’t scientific in my evidence gathering. Is the author actually going to refute the statistics or just the method of gathering? Is the author going to provide information that tabletop gaming is NOT dominated by the male gender? Because this post is to discredit mine and yet proves nothing of the sort. My statistics may be off, but not by an order of magnitude. Come on Andrea, rather than attacking the method, attack the result. I don’t need to count people at my local club in order to obtain the result that tabletop roleplaying is dominated by male gamers. If you want to prove me wrong, get some proof.

The author admits they “can’t speak for tabletop gaming” but then goes on to compare the situation to that of videogames.

Not the same thing. I’m not interested in the video game community so I’m not going to bother going to the links provided which will tell me how women are starting to become a larger percentage of the video game industry (which, by the way, is a way of admitting they don’t dominate it without actually saying that). It’s irrelevant anyway.

In a video game, a designer might fill the game with cheesecake art and then expect you to play through it. The gratuitous boob and crotch shots are something that are in your face all the time. You want to play the game, you vew the graphics. Part and parcel. This isn’t the case with a tabletop roleplaying game. In many games, you read the book once, then put it down and reply on your imagination to pull you through. Does the reading of the book pollute your imagination with cheesecake art so that you’re so pre-occupied with it that you cannot roll a dice, act your way through a scene or enjoy a social activity with some friends?

See, it’s not the same situation as a video game, this is tabletop roleplaying; an area the author admits they “can’t speak for”. She criticises that I compare this game to literary works. The game we’re talking about is a direct homage, a game set in the world of these literary works. That fact that the game is filled with clichés that are representative of the literary genre is relevant. If you change them, they stop being clichés.

Our author, Andrea Rubenstein goes on to say that I’m being non-inclusive. That I’m being a callous asshole. She furthers her ignorance of the subject by claiming that I’m a jerk telling a woman to basically shut up and realize that gaming is for the boys. She probably doesn’t know that I’ve created gender-inclusive games (at least by the standards of the piece). she doesn’t even know what being “inclusive” means in terms of tabletop roleplaying so quick is she to compare it to a competely different medium.

So why get involved in an argument when you don’t know anything about the industry?

To grab a headline. Duh.

Andrea doesn’t realise that tabletop roleplaying games are literary works. She doesn’t realise that reading through many games is the same as reading a short novel. They tell a story and provide a framework designed to inspire the imagination. This is completely different to her straw man about video games which are a passive form of entertainment (yes, videogames are interactive but only in the sense that certain actions allow the story to be told. You’re limited to what’s presented to you on the screen. You’re not required, or in many cases able to use your imagination. But ignorance of the medium of tabletop roleplaying is central to Andrea’s assertion that I’m a jerk and an asshole. Central to her argument is the assertion that tabletop roleplaying must be the same as video gaming.

Andrea Rubenstein is not stupid, nor is she a jerk, nor an asshole. She’s just ignorant.

If she and Mary are going to criticise roleplaying games for their content then they really should start criticising other literary works for their content. Let’s start with the works of Shakespeare, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming and J. K. Rowling. Each of them has almost a monopoly on male protagonists with women having secondary, weaker or evil roles.

Shakespeare at least had Viola.

About matt

Gamer. Writer. Dad. Serial Ex-husband. Creator of The 23rd Letter, SpaceNinjaCyberCrisis XDO, ZOMBI, Testament, Creed. Slightly megalomaniac
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12 Responses to Shakespeare at least had Viola.

  1. Mark says:

    Jeepers! You’ve caused quite a stir.

  2. matt says:


    The ignorant are always the best experts.

  3. Mark says:

    Arg. No. It’ happened again! Any chance you could stick that damn “challenge” above the submit button. I’ve lost my comment twice thanks to not thinking of filling it in.

    So, keeping it short this time. Wanted to comment on her post, but I’d be breaking at least two of her “discussion rules”. 🙁

    Second. The source of this blog-arguement, Spirit of the Century, is based on source material that is sexist. The authors are now trying to head that full-on with a new product, a gaming supplement about sexisms, racism, politics and the dirty history of the pulp era (it’s called New Horizon btw).

    Oh and the last thing I wanted to say… some female gamers weigh in on irishgaming livejournal.

  4. matt says:

    Thanks Mark. I’ll work on moving that challenge field on Monday. I don’t have the l33t skillz but I know a man who does.

    I’ve blogged on the irishgaming journal. Not sure I should respond…been a while since I’ve been on livejournal.

  5. Mark says:

    Go for it. TBH the “community” as such needs a good shake up every so often and you seem to be causing a nice stir. 🙂

  6. matt says:

    I’ve not been around the community for a while bit it does seem dead compared to 5 years ago…

  7. tekanji says:

    Matt, I am sorry that I didn’t better consider how you would feel based on what I was saying. I stand by the content of my post, but I do apologize for the way that I phrased things.

    Please understand that it was not my intent to attack you personally, and if I were to do it again I would be more mindful of the way that I said some of the things that I said.

  8. matt says:

    No offense taken. This is a conversation. We can disagree and still function. I’ve replied again on your blog but it had a couple of links in it so it may have been trapped by your antispam softare.

  9. Revena says:

    Well, I’ve got to admit right up front that your posts on this subject have made me furiously angry with you. So angry that I don’t feel confident that I can really get into why, because I’d end up doing some of the very same name-calling stunts that you’re pulling that are pissing me off.

    So I’d decided not to say anything at all about, knowing I was too mad to be clear and rational.

    But there is one thing here that, as a gaming woman, I feel I -must- speak to. You can call tekanji ignorant all you want (and I think you’re quite wrong to do so, frankly – it is my opinion that her comparison between types of rpg is just as valid as yours between tabletop rpgs and literature), but I’ll say right up front that I have been playing tabletop rpgs since age seven, and I know what I’m talking about.

    YES, CHEESECAKE ART DOES MESS UP MY GAMING EXPERIENCE. And so do gendered class names, and sexist backstories. Why? Because it feeds into the sexist culture of gaming that allows perfectly nice, not necessarily sexist guys like you to say things like “why bother making games that appeal to women? It’s not like women even play!” without even blinking. We do play, damnit. And we’re not making shit up when we say that sexist stuff in sourcebooks can flavor – and therefore sour – a whole gaming experience for us. It effects the whole subculture.

    And don’t even think about telling me that I should be focusing on something more important than gaming, or critiquing stuff besides just games, as you start to do to tekanji and Mer in your last paragraph on this post – I am, and I do. And so do they, actually (it’s really cute how you get mad at tekanji for not reading your whole entire blog, and then seem to have missed the -great wealth- of stuff beyond just games that she critiques on hers).

    But even if we -weren’t- doing stuff you consider more valid or important in addition to critiquing games, what makes you think it’s ok for you to tell other people where they should be directing their critical energy? Did you -read- tekanji’s post? Because you’re still doing exactly what she pointed out.

    I hope you won’t take offense at anything I’ve said in this comment. My goal is not to attack you. I really shouldn’t even hit submit, because I know damn well that I’ve let my anger get away with me a little bit, here – but I’m hoping that you’ll read what I’ve said, step back from it a bit, and think about the ways in which my anger is valid.

  10. tekanji says:

    I’ve replied again on your blog but it had a couple of links in it so it may have been trapped by your antispam softare.

    It did, thanks for the heads up. I already had 200 pieces of spam (and I emptied it out when I replied to your comment…) so it would have been totally lost otherwise.

  11. matt says:

    Hi Robyn,
    I don’t think I’ve done any name-calling to piss you off. I identified Andrea’s ignorance OF THE TOPIC we’re talking about as she was too quick to compare it to video-gaming, which like rap music, car advertising and hollywood movies, promote very negative gender roles (often for both sexes). the wealth of stuff that Andrea talks about on is not relevant to the case at hand any more than your own web site might be. Her ignorance of the topic at hand is the only relevance in this rebuttal of her ad hominem attacks. And I highlighted the difference between tabletop and video games. Does this mean I have to trawl through every article on shrub? I hope not, much as I don’t expect Andrea to trudge through my meanderings.

    It’s not okay to criticise roleplaying games for emulating a genre without actually criticising the genre fiction from which they draw their material. The genre is about clichés. If you need your genre clichés sterilised, then again you need to look within to see where there’s a problem. The 1930s were sexist. The genre fiction of “pulp” was sexist. No, it’s not okay and we’ll all be mindful of the wrongness of it. But does that mean we should rewrite history to pretend it never happened?

    You have the right to be angry about something you read, it’s your head after all. I also have the right to laugh about it and do nothing. That, however, is not the course of action I have resolved to take long before your angry post which refers to me as a “perfectly nice, not necessarily sexist guy”. Do I take that with condescension? Or just a pinch of salt?

    I suppose I should reply to these missives with aggressive, anti-female insults so you can label me as a “not so nice, most definitely sexist”. Would that make it easier?

  12. Revena says:

    You may take it however you like. I assure you that I meant it sincerely – I have no reason to go into a discussion with you assuming that you’re anything other than a perfectly nice guy who happens to have posted some things that made me angry. Nice people can have disagreements, right? Even people I care for very much can make me angry.

    You’re not understanding where my anger is coming from, and that’s my own fault, for which I apologize. I’m not able to articulate any more clearly at this time my sense of what I refered to as “name-calling”, and I’m sorry for that as well.

    I don’t want you to make forming an opinion of you as a person “easier” for me. It’s not even my intent to form an opinion of you at all, quite frankly. That’s not in any way what I wanted to accomplish with my comment – I just wanted to voice my well-informed, not-ignorant-of-tabletop-gaming opinion that sexism in the hobby does indeed impact my enjoyment of my game.

    I don’t think I’ll check this thread, or your blog, again. That’s not a personal judgement or attack – I just don’t feel welcomed or comfortable here, which is at least half because I’m bringing my own history to the discussion. I’m only mentioning this because if you respond to this comment, and are hoping for further response from me after that point, you’ll need to email me for it.

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