Women in wargaming

In every edition of the Great Wargaming Survey, a small number of the respondents identify as female. That small number usually works out to somewhere between one and two percent of all participants, so it’s not much to go on. However, as there are now three editions of the survey (it’s open till August 19th if you haven’t filled it in yet!) and as a substantial number of participants both in 2015 and this year indicated they had not taken part earlier, there is perhaps enough data to compare over the years and say something moderately sensible (sensible from a data point of view, not necessarily when it comes to my conclusions ;-) ) 

In the open ended questions, it’s remarkable how many respondents of any gender either state they would like to see both more minorities and women in the wargaming crowd, or observe to what degree wargaming is a white-male dominated hobby. Well, from the survey’s results, it’s obvious something can be done about that. To take care of the obvious first: no, ‘mansplaining’, boys-club-behavior, grumpy old men and bad hygiene, all those do not make your wargaming club or FLGS more inviting. Female wargamers are at the club, at the store, or at your game for the same reason as any other wargamer: to make new friends, roll some dice and let the story play out, and see who has the best tactics.

Female wargamer preferences are slightly different though. When it comes to the various aspects of the hobby, they love hanging out with friends and playing the games as much as anyone else, but take painting over researching background information. And although they’re not fanatical about it, making scenery and preparing scenarios are both much preferred over collecting rules, calculating the optimal army list, or tinkering with rulesets. 

When it comes to the setting, the overall picture is a bit different as well. Science Fiction and Fantasy are at the top of the list of favorites, immediately followed by Pulp Gaming in 2015 and 2016. ‘Pirates’ is in 5th place this year (7th last year), whereas normal stalwarts such as Napoleonics and ACW trail the list. That matches a (slightly) larger preference for smaller games.

What would they change? Not that much, really. Compared to the general responses, female wargamers want very similar things: to be good to one another in the community, have fun, have more wargamers of all stripes, and yeah, maybe a few more realistic female figures.

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