Hand Her a Sword: Instilling Confidence in Girls Through RPGs – 2018 PAX Unplugged Panel


I’m Ethan Schoonover and this is “Hand
Her a Sword: Instilling Confidence in Girls Through RPGs” This is the recording
of a panel from PAX Unplugged in 2018 in Philadelphia and I’d like to start by
saying a quick thank you to my co-panelists: Kate Welch, Satine Phoenix,
BJ Hensley, and Dr. Megan Connell. They’re amazing people; they’re inspiring women
they’re a big reason that we see greater inclusivity in the role-playing games
community today and they really bring all of the passion and drive and energy
to this panel which you’ll see in a moment. I’d also like to say thank you to
Andy A. who is an audience member he was gracious enough to share his own
personal audio recording of this panel with me when he found out that our mix
aboard recording failed Andy thank you that really saved the day a note I’ve
turned on captions for this video and I’ve tried to clean them up but if you
notice any inconsistencies there please let me know or submit via the youtube
caption community caption submission tool and finally a note regarding
language in the beginning of this panel I talked about inclusivity and I used a
clumsy phrase and I knew it was clumsy at the time but I didn’t have a better
phrase to hand the phrase specifically was girls who identify as non-binary and
I wanted to say a big thank you to Sam and Ollie from the prism pals podcast
they came up to me afterwards and they gave me better words and the better
phrase would have been people assigned female at birth who identify as
non-binary so Sam and Ollie thank you so much for that I really appreciate the
feedback and check out the prism pals podcast so with that if you have any
questions thoughts comments feelings reach out to me on Twitter at Ethan
Schoonover I’m always happy to chat hey glad you guys could come by I mean
you’re early they ran so this is awesome that
shouldn’t still confidence right there we’re done so this is hand her a sword so just a little bit of housekeeping you
see a hashtag up there hashtag hand her a sword if you want to tweet like you
know photos or thoughts and feelings about this panel please feel free to use
that as a hashtag if you search for the hashtag you will find a post that I’ve
already put up online that has all of our Twitter handles because you don’t
know any of us and we’d like to follow us on Twitter so let’s go ahead and jump
in I’m gonna just get rid of some some housekeeping stuff here and give
everybody a chance to sort of a chill for a moment and I’d like to start by
saying that girls and I realize I’m speaking for the panel so like you guys
can jump in with your thoughts but girls is an inclusive work in this context if
you identify as a girl then this panel is for you and you are and this is a
kind of clumsy way to say this but if you were a girl who identifies this
non-binary or and all those for you I don’t have
better words than that I apologize for that but I hope that you sense the
intent behind that yeah and Ally is right yes yeah first
sirens of the realms it was an all-girl barred ban but now I’m it’s all girl bar
ban and friends like the whole thing is so inclusive and we have all these
wonderful men and non-binary who want to support all the girls on the show and
it’s just like and Jason Charles Miller is an honorary siren I think that’s the
things way of saying I get to stay up on the stage so let’s let’s start with you
guys I’d say you’re the important ones here and we want to ask you guys some
questions so I think how is hands do you think or crab claws were in the crab
claw here grab Gandhi are you a woman that has been playing RPGs for more than
ten years who raise your hands raise em high
right on I wanted to ask that question in particular let’s have a round of
applause for all you are you yeah do you run games that
include girls alright a deal spoiler do you run a play in an
all-girls camp awesome do you run her play an all-girl scheme podcast or
screen so let’s go ahead and meet the panelists you know some of the panelists
up here most likely so we’ve decided to spice things up and make this the
panelists that give me secrets we’ll start with the team do you wanna give us
a quick bio I am the community manager for Dungeons & Dragons and the
co-creator of maze Arcana we do a lot of live streams that are all based on
inclusivity I am the founder of celebrity charity and D slash d23 flip a
lot of games where we raise money for childhood literacy program called reach
on read comic book artist actress model all the things whatever makes my heart
happy that’s what I did amazingly talented this time for the hidden secret
what was the teens first album hey Chris Crosby Christopher Cross and see Milli
Vanilli okay and the answer is it was a double tape DJ already do I am the vice
president of lone wolf development the makers of here lab and the founder of
playground adventures playground adventures is a company that helps to
provide social toolboxes and skills to autistic and ADHD children and and
really people in general through day me we also do educational gaming through
fun and facts which teaches children you know math and reading and a variety of
problem-solving things they learn a lot of puzzles but they’re also doing it
while they’re playing games which is cool um I’m an author and artist I’ve
done cartography some podcast I try to avoid those I just like satine I think I
just kind of hump around and do whatever makes me happy at the time and whatever
I can do to how children I speaking a lot of empowerment and I wasn’t that
kind of stuff I just I’m a little bit of everywhere all the time
awesome and BJ’s first album was a handsome Bob be Metallica or see REM I’m
gonna give you guys five seconds to think the answer PJ is not gonna make it over
here dr. Megan Cannella I’m a psychologist
and therapeutic dungeon master I am the GM for clinical role a game where we
have all therapeutic Dungeon Master’s playing I am also the co-founder of
geeks like us where we are having professional geeks help mentor and
inspire the next generation of geeky creators and then I also run an host a
show called psychology at the table that’s about how to be more inclusive at
your gaming table all these women are always album a season Vega B Terminator
2 Judgment Day original motion picture side back Farsi Nine Inch Nails terminators oddly specific I also
somehow my way to running a D&D Club and actually teaching GED classes there microcell mom was he the prince laurie
anderson or INXS so it was actually all of the above hi okay I am a game designer I’m
Dungeons and Dragons I play a character called Rosie B singer on acquisitions
incorporated see Tina and I have been I think my qualification to be on this
panel is that I have gone and talked to dr. mr. s great mysteries classes at
Lake Washington girls middle school several times they are incredible so I
guess I’m here to talk about that experience first album here we have
either a Alanis Morissette B Morrissey or C Morris Dance classics one of these specifically jumping in
girls and RPGs that’s why we’re here just uh this is why I’m here actually
this is my group that I started in 2017 started with six girls they’re awesome what else is there to say about this job
we have a table lamp they’re jumping yeah we have a head
banger they’re jumping up on chairs this is from what did you see up a dig killed
something as a group yeah and this is from the summer the
technique actually came to the summer camp and these are two girls that played
bards and they put together a song and dance routine and I’m going to skip this
one just short of time and this is today in 2018 instead of six girls we don’t
have 26 and it’s not we’re not just talking about
teens and tweens although they’re super important to me personally obviously
these are dr. Megan and I did just get a text when they’re done saying he had to
take away their swords so this brings us to our quest these fine folks come back
to us if you are here in the audience with you raise your hand if you’re any
one of these people Wow so thank you to all of these folks here’s a picture
though first up Kate and Kate I want to say this is 95 degrees in this room it
can be a hundred it was super hot I think you were demonstrating how to
choke a foe the second time that I came and they this what was amazing to me was
that this was a group of girls who I think we’re giving up a free period to
come hang out with a summertime yeah yeah so this was I think I was talking
to them about a game game design job at Wizards or something here but the best
part about talking to these girls is that they are so incredibly attentive
they want to know everything they want to ask me questions they wants you there
clearly learning actual useful skills I think you told me you’re using it to
teach them science and math now and there and they’re so curious and their
questions are hilarious because I’ll be in there I’ll give them like a five
minute talk on being a game designer on D&D and then one of them will be like
mystery has this like cursed Ruby but my my crewmates won’t let me how do I talk
them into it I’m probably here giving them advice on how to betray their
they’re incredible they’re so they’re so cool like they I wish that there could
be like a documentary about these girls because they’re incredibly inspiring
there’s not many of us like 100 girls in the whole school right 120 so when you
think about that his earlier figure of 26 girls who are participating in that’s
like fully a fourth of these some of these girls are all planked up to the
Dragons and it’s amazing vehicle they all but they’re also like self possessed
they’re not shy like every time I come to give you know me they’re so excited I
do want to say that they know Keith because Keith and Jeremy also came at
one point and they remember Keith really well and I have for my W Jeremy so I’m
gonna jump into the questions yeah turn off my mic back on first question I’d
like to ask is pretty general yeah little boy what specific benefits for
girls can art DG play provide and I’m just going through this way
well so the therapy group I run is all girls and it’s focused on empowerment
and helping girls feel empowered through playing Dungeons and Dragons and so one
of the things that Eaton really teaches them is that their voice matters that’s
one of the biggest takeaways that I want girls to have when they come to my
gaming table they want I want them to feel like what they say matters and what
they do matters in the world and also their that they have this freedom to say
yes and no and that their knows matter and it’s been such a powerful thing to
see these girls take those lessons and also learn how to work together
cooperatively my groups go from ages of 13 through about 18 that we do have some
younger girls in there too but it’s about learning how to work together and
so to not be competitive but to be cooperative and to engage with one
another to get to a shared goal and the skills and the confidence that these
girls have been developing through it it’s just amazing to see even my most
confident girl in the class or the group she recently started a Dungeons &
Dragons group at her school and I don’t I don’t know that she would have done
that had she not you know started a group at all had she not gotten the
confidence from playing and getting to know these other girls and doing all
this it’s very cool I think that kinda like what she said inspires so much
confidence and it allows them to form a bond together because one of the things
you see in school so very very often especially you know for all kids but
amongst girls is there’s a lot of thinking at each other because it’s what
our culture started to talk them to do when you create a group and you set them
down and they start working together the way they treat each other just changes
into something beautiful and you see it not just during the day but outside of
the game you know they start to to sort of be their own little bit
in school and in sports and whatever they’re doing I I’ve definitely noticed
it definitely inspires confidence i I think educationally from an educational
perspective I’ve noticed that girls start becoming more and more confident
about their own intellect even like if you’re giving them puzzles and they’re
solving things and they’re working through it they learn to be proud of
their talents and they don’t hide them they learn to just let them you know be
and to be who they are and I think that’s really important the voice it is
so interesting how many when I say women girls women just you know you find
confidence and then something happens in your voice goes away and then you if I
have to work through it in find confidence and then all of a sudden
something happens in your voice goes away so that I just want to triple down
on that you we find our voices through RPGs more on just to add something
different exploration of ideas a safe place to explore your ideas maybe it’s
personal identity maybe it’s I have an idea of how I want to act in the real
world but maybe I’ll practice that here and it really creates a safe space so
that when you do go out you’re like it gives you the confidence to be able to
be yourself this might be somewhat unscientific but there’s also a
confidence that comes from knowing knowing a rule set or right yeah yeah to
know that if someone is if you get you the opportunity for someone to stay like
okay do I talk about Dungeons and Dragons you
have a you have this oh yeah I play dungeon darkness I love it let’s talk
about it and to kind of like have those and and dungeon dragons is more popular
now that it has ever been in its entire history so having that kind of
conversational ability with a game like Dungeons and Dragons means that you have
something that you can talk to you know 10 million people about instantaneously
yeah that goes for girls it goes for boys it goes for everybody but it in
particular young girls have this think that like they have something that they
can relate to people of all ages which i think is kind of rare for young girls
across the spectrum of age and ethnicity demographic this is something that you
can relate to so I would like to advocate and address the issue we don’t
actually have a question about this upon the slides but whether what the right
role-playing game is to reduce girls who want to play a role Lincoln
what would that be and i you know i when i started my candy club it was not D&D
club it was sort source reasons sword sorcery and statistics I felt like this
was maybe more palatable title for parents and also with our administration
my fellow administrators in school we’re it’s more cool with the idea that there
was statistical but you I really thought about what game
and I named it that also because I wanted to be flexible I wasn’t sure if I
would do DD right away other systems I should look at and I feel very strongly
at this point that Dean D was the right choice for a number of reasons and chief
among those is I is the idea of ownership you know I I grew up in the
70s and 80s in rural Wisconsin which was sort of the birthplace of D&D I was like
the target market for D and E so it looked totally accessible to me right I
have a total sense of ownership of this game because of that despite the fact
that I took like decades off playing I still have this like weak sense of
entitlement is right and what I’ve tried to do is give the girls in my groups a
sense of ownership I want them to walk out the door with ownership of this game
this is now their game I had a girl who said to me in the original club she
when before I started playing D&D I was really unsure if I would like it I
thought it was just my dad’s nerdy game yeah I know I said so what about that
and she said now it’s mine dirty and I think if you’re if you’re choosing a
different system that’s fine but you just have to understand like introducing
like some you know a niche or an indie game it could be great but the great
thing about GED is they can walk into a game store or any bookstore now which is
amazing and they they can walk over to that section and say that’s my game I’m
just gonna say real briefly this is a one of my original players who had a
cleric of the first session what are they here’s equipment what are the most
important aspects of do you need it to be focused on to make young women feel
uncomfortable in the first session maybe we’ll do a reverse initiative the the
most obvious went to me and the one that I always tell everybody nur is that you
can’t play wrong like it you really can’t if you if you get a rule wrong it
doesn’t really matter if you’re Dungeon Master lets you get away with it then
you’re playing the game right the rule of cool we call it and so
that’s I think when I had I tried to teach my stepkids to play D&D and they
took to it pretty well and they were but they had the same clear of like what if
I do it wrong I’m not sure what to do when you grow up with video games which
have this rigid code structure the things that you can do are very tightly
gated right but in Dungeons and Dragons the code is imagination and kids don’t
grow up with that kind of boundless imagination unless they’re invoking it
themselves in their own play but with games with rules they’re not used to it
so letting them know that there are there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s
this is my number one rule and get excited about it like I love it when my
players roll a 1 and I make them take damage and I make them tell me how they
feel they love it like and I just choose to fill this the plane with other people
it’s easy to play video game like World War Craft or these MMOs where you’re
playing against other people or you’re playing against the computer and you’re
kind of wondering listless but in D&D people get really stuck on their
character sheets and then the fear of failing but teaching them that you
should be responding to the people around you like it’s what they do that
make you do the next thing and when you learn how to look at other people in the
eye and listen to them and anticipate them and kind of do things for the group
knowing that your value is like you are valuable to the group is really
important I think one of the things that I try to establish you’re in early
and every game is that it’s just something to be you a lot of people they
said a group down of people or young women or young girls and they you know
encourage them to be the Amazon fighter or you know Wonder Woman the hero or and
and I think that sometimes that can be difficult for the girls who are more
fashion-forward you know it’s okay to be unmentioned high heels and a mimic
handbag okay to be you and I think it’s just so crucial that they said and that
people remember that because it can be just as easy to a maybe somebody’s
person and who they are and imaginary games as it as it can be in in the real
world and that’s that’s something that should be remembered I think I
everything that you guys have said like that and it’s just that installation of
fun I want the I want to see a smile at like my personal goal is a dungeon
master in every game I run is to instill delight in my players and so I tried to
if I can get that in the first session just a little bit yeah hundred percent
lake as long as they walk away if fed in a blast they’re gonna do it a second
time and then you can get into more than any gritty I mean like I’ll tell you
like for the first session for me with new players at the school
hello is just skip most of the rules yeah and will we will fill in usually
like the name of their character probably the race of the character and I
won’t even help me pick a class I’ll just give them a random background and
it will be something like yeah you were like you were a farmer or you were like
a librarians assistant you know you shoveled coal yeah they love those like
weird and you know I really thought they were just like throw away things but
they build immediately the elaborate backstories around them and it also
gives them the flexibility to play it out as they wished you so they could be
like yeah I was a librarians assistant but I was dragon boring and I used to
settle the books on fire or they can play like they can play more
feminine right and they can yeah any soy there’s no expectation on my part like
how they want to express that and I also make it very clear to them that they can
choose a pronoun if they wish to and they can also change it later and I
don’t have some gender of their characters just in the first session I
think that’s important yeah the moment you start limiting I’ve
watched it happen over and over someone has this idea they’ve never played
before I had an ex he wanted to be a vampire and he was so excited and he
told the game master and the game master said no and he’s never and even you have
done a curtain even wrong I had this memory of the girls telling me that you
did like at least one session zero where they didn’t even have they didn’t have a
class at all yeah like they they had to earn the class right yeah I usually do
this like it’s actually kind of so me but I made the girls like in my first
group I was like you’re gonna play as level zero and they never played D&D
before so they’re like okay and we played like sessions hero for
like later at level zero not sessions here but level zero right so like no
class like negative experience points like you gotta dig out of this hole
girls we didn’t ever like six weeks like six weeks later they leveled up to
level one and it was like we had a big ceremony and I give them yeah I gave
them these late coins these fantasy coins that you know I like to work on
writing on them yeah it’s like cool chord these cool knots in it and I
presented it to them and they all wear those coins to this day by the way how
do you feel knowing that I made you play through level zero and they’re like we
loved it we feel like we really were in their class and they also gave them a
chance to really connect like do they want to do like magic fighting so I it’s
very loose basically the rules are super light I keep you know I introduce like
new rules every time first session was like race class stats no modifiers like
they know nope efficiency don’t nothing like that you get a frying pan that girl
who it was the food cleric she started off as a cook and she had a frying pan
and they didn’t know like do I need a weapon do I not he would weapon I just
was like okay something bad happened I introduced Carol immediately the first
session so we had some lake wolf riders come to town what’s a wolf rider I don’t
know and you know just like and then they flee the town and they they have to
like they didn’t go with battle and they have to like improvise weapons or he
provides solutions and they often do provide solutions that are nonviolent
which is another thing about girls which I find very interesting which we will
come to but that’s that’s it and I encourage this and just eat with kids in
general especially with middle school aged kids that I’ve been playing with
session zero the sessions where you gradually introduce the rules it
eliminates that whole I mean these are big books I’m looking at eight
yeah way to do a thing where we would do basically creative storytelling so the
best way to start like little kids especially into this is to tell them
like a choose your own adventure story it’s great for road trips so you’re in
the DN so you kind of have to make more of the decisions but they don’t know cuz
they’re little kids so they’re like well I don’t try to do this and you just have
to basically make the decision of how that goes and that too can get them into
sort of finding different character niches and what it is that they’re most
interested in a lot of fun just a picture of my class the DD classes the
first step okay there’s only is there a need or utility for running a girls-only
gaming group path picture because you just see this when we you get into
mixed-gender groups a lot of times where the girls will let the guys just
naturally lead and they will let the guys tell them what they they’re
supposed to do and what they should do on each turn and it tend to be a lot
more timid whereas if they get that grounding experience of learning the
game when they’re just around other girls they start to gain that like
you’re talking about earlier that boy it’s the confidence to be able to say no
this is what I want to do this is how I want to play and you know I think we
want to get into you know mixed gender men groups eventually but I think for
starting especially with younger girls to have that all-girl experience can be
really powerful I think that’s true and I think it
applies I don’t like girls but boys as well I find if I run a group of girls
and I run a group of boys and I separate them for a while they have very
different lay styles but then they get enough polish and confidence and and the
boys spins together and they’re a little bit
more accommodating of their own differences I find that to be really
important yeah girls they’re it’s really hard for girls
to trust it’s really hard for girls to trust other girls and just on a primal
level and watching a group of girls bond and maybe that takes 12 sessions so when
you have girls a lot of times the girls want to save the Goblin they don’t want
to kill the Goblin they want to make friends with the Goblin and take him
home and create a little city full of all the creatures they’ve collected
along with their friends and I say this because I am that player but also
because many of the girls that I that I have ran for are the same way
and I find that actually if they’re given space where they’re not talked
over and they’re allowed to gain the confidence to speak for themselves then
they will start making decisions but the decisions they make are different from
the boys I find that when you have a young group of boys and you set them
down it kind of looks like I owe you so so the boys you have to sort of
encourage them whether you’re encouraging them by giving them
experience for making nonviolent decisions and not all boys are like this
not all girls or the other way but there is definitely a theme there that happens
a lot and if you work with them individually doing games like that are
tailored to them because gaming it gives you the ability to teach people things
it’s the best part about it it’s a wonderful tool for
and so the boys you have to teach them to tone it down a little but the girls
you generally have to teach them to be more confident you have to teach them to
go out and sometimes the solution actually is that you have to attack the
thing which can sometimes end in people in tears so you do have to be careful
with that too so there’s just different rules there’s different things you have
to be careful of the boys often tend to like the dungeon crawls better but at
the same time I love a good dungeon crawl so again nothing is a constant but
if you give those ones that need work in certain areas that time to build the
confidence to learn how they want to game to learn if they like and then you
put them together there’s like just this magic thing occurs where they’re
considerate and they’re kind and they’re like oh what do you want to do and then
they wait they wait for the other people so I it just seems to work out really
well well it’s pretty basic there’s the hierarchy of needs right and
once you understand what humans hierarchy of needs are women’s are
different than men and know I got two girls supported but yet once you
understand maybe that is something in here a game master to look into to
understand the players at your table of course experience will change different
things but when you have a young girls only group it is more primal and base
it’s just different things they want to do like some of them want to go shopping
for an hour and a half and that’s a great fun adventure but you know some of
the other people at the table might get really over that and just finding like
I’d kill the shopkeeper you know and create my own drama we need
different things and especially at the younger ages I think it’s important that
they have time to develop themselves and if I can’t I wouldn’t jump into a little
story time here is my group so I have been running
a basically thang arise at EMI storyline where the cult a team I was trying to
bring her back to the Material Plane and the girls had found out through their
adventure that there was a green dragon that was the one leading all of this and
eventually through all of their adventures they befriended several more
powerful heroes and they figured out that the green dragon was hiding in a
humanoid form and they figured out how to corner her into attackers they’ve
developed this very smart plan to take care of her and they had spent time
building allies and gathering their resources and so they had to very high
level and PC paladin’s come in and helped them because their characters
have taken time to build those relationships and then they also asked
and then when this final fight happened it was not an easy fight so I think
there were nine but there are nine characters out on the field so six of
them where the no seven where the girls and then two of NPCs and they were
fighting an adult green dragon on the highest level where to level eight there
and most everybody else with level three or four yeah they got to the end of the story faster
what was amazing that was because they had these powerful allies in there that
you know it was a little bit even more even of a playing field and they got to
the point and their Rogue actually was the one that got the killing blow by
throwing a dagger and hitting the dragon and I was expecting in the room to erupt
in tears because this has been nine or ten months of story we’ve been building
up to this moment and they got there and all of the girls burst into tears they
were all crying but it was a wonderful thing they cried and they were hugging
each other and one of the girls was finally able to cope I’m gonna cry now
Oh put words to what was going on for them she just looked up just like look
what I can do what I have with my friends what and this is a girl who had
been horribly bullied at school and had like any definition of Mean Girls of
like I’m gonna be your friend and then I’m gonna get you to tell me all your
secrets I’m gonna tell everybody your secrets that happened to this kid and
like it was the most amazing and powerful thing to see just to see these
girls connect and to cheer and to just like go I’m unstoppable when I’m with my
friends I read some research about girls in
schools obviously something to where they
divided they actually surveyed students and they asked them to identify you know
popular girls and different different groupings of girls and they kept
riesling those popular girls that they were scared of so meeting girls
basically popular girls who were kind and quiet shy girls who were kind so
they had these rough three tempers and they found that the the popular girls or
and I shouldn’t say that they were tied with it if I the popular girls who were
not mean shared all the same qualities as girls who were categorized as kind
and shy the only difference was that the kind they popular girls that were nice
were kind that they were that they were sort of I think that they had
assertiveness so that sorry that was a clumsy way of saying this but the point
was is that the popular girls in the school that were not mean had voice they
had assertiveness and this is one of the things that I think and I I wouldn’t say
that this is based on research but I know yeah I shouldn’t that mean has to
do it’s absolutely true what would your character do is a great way to help you
become assertive like that there’s like it when you really take like any of you
work with a lot of girls who have struggles and things and and being able
to help them work through the men come out on the other side with strength
in the boys just just a shot up a drill drawing on a white border that just
played to point out that this is a dragon and he likes cheese puffs lots of white words in this bowl of
noodles dirty game mastering and he sits for encouraging and helping girls take
on the role of game master yeah get your answer uh my my advice might not be
gender specific but Mike usually when when people
express concern or nerves about Game Master a dungeon mastering I assure them
that it’s very easy because it is it’s actually super easy how many of you have
never damned orgy on coke or keep your hands up if it makes you nervous to
think about doing it that’s everybody okay so I was you not too long ago and I
was terrified to DM and then I tried it and it is so great because you run the
show like yes it is your show you don’t mess up
because you’re the arbiter of the rules baby there’s nothing that you can mess
up and and as long as you seek to give the people at your table a good time as
long as you that is your primary goal you are going to be an amazing dungeon
master and that’s it that’s it I mean the knowing the rules is helpful very
helpful and but but I don’t have to yeah at the end of the day the rules are
yours and every single instance of Dungeons and Dragons belongs to the
group that is playing it every single game of DNA is different from every
other one so you don’t have to worry about believing to some absolute correct
way to play and I guess that’s exactly what I said
earlier about just playing Dungeons & Dragons is that there’s no wrong way to
do it but as a dungeon master it’s actually I think it might be my favorite
thing to do it’s it’s so fun to delight the people at your table so yeah not
really gender specific but that is my advice like I can’t even believe we’re 2018
I’ve been playing since I was eight years old and playing for 30 years and
like had the craziest messed-up childhood and I had like I had a D&D
from the moment that the crazy started and I wish there was a group of people a
group of strong women who were there that I could listen to and like all the
stuff that we’re all doing is freakin amazing it is really just all beautiful and
strange actually ready a book about this whole process like girl to woman player
exploring who your character is becoming the person you are and then evolving to
game master facilitating delight and people making a space confidence and
making a space for other people but that is so important it’s amazing and the
amount of women that you see in gaming today is phenomenal I’ve been gaming for
thirty years thirty years and there was not that late like you said there there
was a lot of women there there was you were taught by a bunch of men or male
relatives or all people might have forced my way into it yeah well and I
remember I remember going and being told no this isn’t for you you can’t you know
even at game stores they were kicked out a lot and now we have this phenomenal
amazing world where women can gym and women can play and and you look when I
walked through the con halls you see so many of us it’s just it’s it’s
phenomenal because I remember like so many times when I was younger feeling
like I was the only person who went to the class five years it’s just these
like yeah the last five years has been amazing all the new women and and it’s
not like we weren’t always there because we’ve always been there we really have
but we were mice in the background I’m afraid to go out and and in public or be
out in the world I obviously still am some fun but it takes that one game s
yeah the one woman that one girl to step forward and then that just it’s a
confidence in me no one leads to an to another as for the question yeah and
I think like her this works for anybody so all the children at my table that I
deal with anytime they’re they’re shy about jamming or express interest in to
me one of the things that they always say is it’s so hard you know I get to
remember all the math and I get to remember this and I actually encourage
them to try them before they know the game really well and the one thing I
tell them is nobody can see what you’re doing behind your screen I guarantee I
can run an entire game without a book without ever doing any mess it is not
actually necessary you just have to make it look like you know my therapy groups
for are amazing because one of the traditions that this group has developed
is any time someone’s having a birthday is they host a sleepover for the group
and whoever’s birthday it is runs a game for everyone and they play their
characters they play and so like it’s just kind of been this organic thing
where they have come to support and celebrate one another and so then they
just run games for each other and so like they know I know from what I gather
from them cuz like I try to step back to and let them because it’s about
empowerment so it’s about them running it and not me pushing buttons on it so I
just kind of listed them a little bit but you know it’s nothing like they just
trust one another that it doesn’t matter if they don’t know the rules that it’s
gonna go and have fun and it’s like we’re gonna go through this tomb and
then we’re gonna find some stuff or go through the forest
my children go out and obtain other children go out on the playground
this game and the other how does this work throw a fireball at you and you
have to dodge I just want to mention like maybe three concrete things that I
have come to mind I just started running this year
Friday night club 26 girls and I decided I would have the girls DeYoung my
suggestions are as follows one support the girls that are support blue are
gonna play SDM if they’re gonna be a game master give them materials don’t
voice the materials on them don’t force them to use the materials but provide
the materials so I had again three DMS I gave them all the option of running some
adventures that I provide it to them they could choose from them or they
could choose to make their own I had one girl who modified an adventure I had one
girl who created the adventure from scratch threw away everything I gave her
and I never know who followed the adventure point for point so if you’re
providing those resources I think it’s going to be kind of a more easier on
ramp for them the second is kind of age their stress level DMing can be
anxiety-producing and you can get over that but it can also sometimes you don’t
get over it right sometimes it’s still like an ongoing anxious moment and you
want to be there to support that that student or that teen or between or girl
who’s running a game and make sure that they feel supported not alone in that
because being behind the screen can also feel alone and I would encourage all of
you if you you know if you have a girl in your life who wants to Deana maybe
she doesn’t taken that step yet Koecher be a coach you don’t have the DM
you don’t have you you know you can ask her like how accessible would you like
me to be show me to be there during the game you want me to be there
talk to you after the game before the game but just be a sounding board if
nothing else and if you can be a coach for that person
I think that’s gonna really help to get more girls into being Dungeon Master’s this is a my original group and I just
love the fact that this looks like straight out of the 70s skull lamp leave
by the way I asked them like you know lights on in the classroom but lights
off their the clicks off so this is kind of a complicated question and there’s a
lot of facets to this probably spend the rest the time talking about aggression
how do you encourage cautious or non aggressive female players to overcome or
unlearn those feminine characteristics of what they should do as a girl versus
a warrior or where did those girls prefer to lean into what they already
know and I kind of like also I’d like is that even something we should be
concerned about characters just is incredibly offensive right we should
encourage them to use those as benefits lean into this because they are
absolutely superpower I went to having it for Rebecca because I think that she
I mean she thought this question up at the last minute and I she doesn’t had a
chance for you crazy but I understand well make them frustrated so I one of
the first things that I ran my girls group through was a very intentionally
frustrating wizards tower and I stole this idea from Ivanova then I told him I
did this which you take a game board of chutes and ladders and you have it
behind your DM screen and every tower has ten buttons and you
have to push a button and sometimes nothing happens and sometimes the ladder
appears and sometimes the floor opens up and you slide back down and they get
very frustrated then when they get to the top they are very angry and then
there’s no they usually will just go and bully the wizard I like it when women
lean into their power you know like we wield creativity in a way that a lot of
people don’t understand and I encourage it with this is what they want to do and
then I ask them to elaborate like okay go further like okay I just kind of want
to go online and step well why are you going behind what is it about being
quiet like like kind of showing them that they boys showing them that they
are more creative and that it can be more interesting to leave into their own
personal power I might rephrase this is – how is maybe
how do you encourage girls to get out of their comfort zone and that and I think that that that would be
something I would love to hear from you through about because again I’ve the
only the only way I’ve coached young girls played Andy before and it was me
just giving her whatever she wanted which was super fun for her she was like
I want to be a unicorn I’m like well it’s not a playable okay but she and so
I was like okay well you’re walking through the woods and and she’s like I
want to shoot a tree with my magical horn like well alright she she’s not an
aggressive girl normally but she wanted to aggress and so I was like yeah
sometimes they just need to get that out you know that’s the one beautiful
wonderful thing about role-playing games is it as a place where you can get all
of that out you know when you go through your day and all of these things happen
and as women we bottle it up and we bottle it up because we haven’t found
our voices or don’t want to use them in certain places and it can be really
great just to go kill a bunch of orcs really actually so my girls there’s half
of them are quiet and half of them are very outgoing but one of the things that
I’ve been doing is asking them outside of the game and I actually run I can’t
like a nonsense oh we’re at lunch or dinner and let’s just run through a no
dice like and like that’s a time for them especially on the stream it’s
really hard because there’s a lot of pressure of just do it do it if we can’t
figure it out we’ll just move on this is a way for them to actually look at their
character sheet and we’ve been for those who are quiet they’re like actually what
do you think about this and I created this really cool bladed scarf as two
ends and she had these really cool ideas and we were like alright let’s explore
that so by the time we went back to the regular game
she she felt more competition oh yeah check this out allowing the shiny people
to talk things over and not be put on this spot I think yeah sometimes being
quiet can just be really important because a lot of times when you’re
talking to a shy person or especially a little girls they might say um well I’d
like to and whatever that is but a lot of people will then jump in if you give
them a little bit of silence they’ll often expand you start like oh you
expect more so they’ll expand and there it is but one of the things that I
recommend and I think anybody who’s seen anything with me and it has probably
heard this to death and I actually am missing my little unicorn today but if
you have a game table with a bunch of kids you’re gonna have to I can’t you’re
gonna have a noisy kids you’re gonna have the kids that go oh she wants to do
this you know I implement a speaking stuffed animal you cannot talk or may
take your turn unless you’re holding it so that inspires people to be able to
take their turns without that interruption or being told what to do by
others yeah I do something uh where’s in combat I’ll often pair them so they roll
it’s two working together and they roll one initiative and then their characters
work together and so I’ve done that with the more experienced players with the
new players if they can teach each other but then it’s also really putting that
cooperation together yeah we invite parents to either leave the table or
play familiars so they don’t give full characters this is my brain going all the projects
that but like yeah and one other thing as Institue is like with not just the
aggression but like thinking about that finding a voice you know it because my
games are therapeutic and we’re trying to hit on things that are skills for
outside of the session I wanted to create things that the girls were going
to encounter in real life and so like I made a character who intentionally came
in and stole their thunder every time so we have to actually make them angry
because that’s how they learn to control themselves yeah yeah yeah ladies aren’t you glad I came in to save
you from that : no and he would go off and tell because he was a hero already
he was rich he was a retired adventurer hashtag not all chats he would come in
and they would be at the final boss fight you know they’re down on hit
points they’re down on spells and suddenly here comes Chet and his
gleaming armor to step in behead the final bit villain and go I saved you be
glad and then he would leave before they could and go tell everybody how he
wouldn’t rescue them why he was the way he was this is such a relatable scenario that I
wanted to just bring it up I am like this is from Carol
Carrie only at 13-under where I am a girl that I love playing dudes and
non-binary characters I get a lot of shit from people by the way girls what
students watching this mystery just swore so you all get inspiration yes I’m
a girl without bling dudes number finding characters and I got a lot of
shit from people do not like group about it when I see some of those same guys at
other groups playing he quotes sexy lady elf in a chainmail bikini character
point I just want to say guys don’t do that yeah
and if you make art if you can make women in proper armor like we have a
pretty strict policy on art this is a real thing for hip addition this was
before I joined the team but they they had a a policy that at least half of the
art would be not white dudes listen I love a chainmail bikini and boobs
yes a hundred percent but like if it’s all this boob armor with a with a window
of skin right over the vital organs she’s not gonna wear that y’all there’s
a place for these things too for this question it doesn’t matter what other
people think of your character if you want to play full armor cool if you want
to play bikini what we’re doing at Dungeons & Dragons is setting an example
of appropriateness for like the masses right we we have to but also yeah I want
to we encourage cooperative role play now
if your group wants to do something else that your groups decision if you want to
do something else that is your decision and you people should not judge other
people and/or their characters at they’re playing cuz it’s none of their
business well I think the best advice I can give this girl is find a new gaming
group because the bottom line is you should be able to play whatever you want
to play I don’t care if you want to play a purple non-binary elf whatever I mean
it really doesn’t matter it just doesn’t you can be whatever you want to be and
that should be supported by your friends your and you should stand up and tell
them that thank you everybody we’ve reached time more questions our way to use the
hashtag I’ll follow it and I’ll see if I can get to them and maybe other people
will too I’ll do my best I forget to Twitter
I’ll actually put it on the bunch of us was going show

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