Yesterday, +John Stephens drew my attention to a conversation started by +Stacy Dellorfano and her blog post about the new Swords and Wizardry cover. ( Let me say I think this cover is cool, graphically interersting, and I'm glad to see her discussing it -- but it's the rest of the post about her experience as a female in gaming that made me want to respond in more length.

I didn't want to hijack her thread, and decided to post some things here. Then I realized I should post it on my own blog ( is woefully overdue for a post anyway).

I find myself often drawn into these conversations, or asked to speak on panels, since I started working professionally in the game industry by 1977 (illustrator, designer/developer, editor). I believe my first panel on "Women in Gaming" was at a GenCon around 1980. I'm scheduled to be on another at TusCon in November. After 36 years, we're still talking about this? Evidently, we have to.

While women were less commonly seen in the first days of RPGs than today, they/we were not not-there. Stacy linked Jon Peterson's article on the First Female Gamers I think Peterson's assertion that science fiction and fantasy fandom brought a different number of, and attitudes about, females to gaming is correct. Those sf/f fans did not so lightly put up with the overly sexist bullsh*t -- neither the males nor the females.

One of Peterson's commenters says "women gamers have been under-reported" and I definitely think that's true. My master's degree research suggested that labels matter, yet people I'd easily call gamers don't call themselves that -- and neither did women in the 70s. There were the wargamers -- not "gamers" -- and there were fans. People like me were fans first, and we played games with the guys (even regular wargames) but we didn't self-identify as "gamers" or wargamers, because our hobby focused on science fiction and fantasy, and (while not everyone will agree) the wargamers and proto-gamers were included in that big tent definition. So were the Trekkies/Trekkers, the SCA people, the readers, and the Star Wars geeks. It was all (ahem) one big happy family ... for some definitions of "happy" and "family." It was, regardless, ==my tribe==, and I was at home in all those venues.

That's why I was bemused by Stacy's comment in her blog about, "if you got into gaming early, I want to meet your family." Yes, I played "family games" with my family -- bridge, cribbage, backgammon, all manner of such -- but it was the "tribe" of sf/f fandom that introduced me to such games as Risk, Regatta, and Diplomacy before D&D was even invented. Our fannish group included Ken St Andre whom Peterson does not name, but who extracted the wargaming elements out of the earliest D&D to make a pure RPG game for him and his friends -- one of whom was me -- and that was Tunnels & Trolls. I was no one's girlfriend or wife; I was a fan and only later came to self-identify as a gamer.

So rather than ask about my family, I would say you'd have to ask about my friends. Some were female, some were male, and the key element was to have fun socializing together. Gaming became my business, my career, and my passion, and remains so after more than 40 years.

I'm glad I was there early on, and did not face the kind of bull I hear too many women faced later, and face today. I am variously bemused, shocked, bewildered, and often angered by how the community changed. (Society too, I have to add.) It has, but it isn't a necessary element integral to the hobby as I have known it.

I'm going to leave this here. I may have more to say on my blog.
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