This is something that’s kind have been buzzing around my head since Origins. It was a whole bunch of things, but basically it led to this kind of thought.
How do you split your genders when it comes to making pregens for your con game/adventure module?
If you’ll notice, when we did Critical!: Go Westerly, which is available for the low price of five bucks, Geoff made sure that there were 4 women and 4 men. Ultimate we ended with 5 women and 4 men, because of a quick of licensing that didn’t pan out we had already created one character and included her anyway because her origin story is pretty funny, which … kind is an anomaly when it comes to pre-generated characters. I just went through some of the “free” stuff that was nominated for an Ennie and saw that when they had a chance to do a 50/50 split the adventure modules … didn’t do it at all. There was usually just one woman character and the rest were all dudes.
This leads me back to Origins where there was a game that Geoff was running. He was running the introduction campaign with a table of 8, which is the maximum that the game will go. That means that there were 4 characters that were men and 4 characters that were women. One of the players noticed this, and the first thing out of this mouth was, “Why are there so many women characters?”
Geoff replied, “Well, half of the population is made up of women. So, half of the population of the characters are women too. It only makes sense.”
To which the player scoffed, “Not in gaming it isn’t.”
Which is of course, patently bullshit. You didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to notice that there were a wide variety of people, all of whom where there for gaming in some form or another.
We talked about it later at Big Bar on 2 with Amanda Valentine, who played in the intro game the day before this all happened, and she commented that she had instinctively picked up one of the female characters, and then a second one and stood there contemplating her options before she realized that there were two other characters she could pick from. I believe, and she can correct me if I’m wrong here, she said that “One is usually all I get, two female characters is usually decadent.”
Having two options is considered to be decadent. Think about that statement for a moment, and then realize the fundamental absurdity of it. I know if I have a stack of pregens put in front of me, I’m probably going to have more than two choices.
I leave this to you know, fellow game designer people. If you’re going to make a set of pregens for a game, a sourcebook, a campaign, or whatever. Let’s at least try to start making sure that we provide some equality here. It’s not that hard really, just make your characters and then sit back and look at them and count how many of each gender you have. If it’s not a 50/50 split then you should probably fix that.