Tag Archives: Gaming

Conventions in Gaming – The Female of the Species


This was always going to be something that came up, however, we may not be discussing what you think we are. I could also start by saying that all three authors here at 6 Inch Move are involved with members of the opposite sex, two of us being married for a number of years. My intent here today is not to discuss the abject look of horror that crosses most ladies faces if they have to step foot in their local Games Workshop while every face stares at them in confusion as to what this figure is that has invaded their sacrosanct domain. No, more about the way in which the female form is represented through various mediums in game terms. We’re going to touch on stereotypes for sure, it would be difficult not to considering the genre and the male bias that our hobby most definitely caters for.

As you are more than likely aware if you check out any of the plethora of Fantasy movies that came out during the 80s (to be honest, probably the only good things to come out of the 80s were a lot of sci-fi/fantasy movies) women are portrayed in one of only a couple of ways. These include; being draped over some (no doubt well paying) gent, a girl who has no idea of the outside world and is therefore completely dependant on the hero (normally she’ll end up naked at some point too) and the warrior women that can kick anybody’s butt and normally does it while half naked and without getting so much as a scratch on her. OK, I’ll admit that Conan doesn’t wear much but if you read Howard’s work it fits the background, although in most of the stories the chicks are the second type listed and they pretty much are all naked half the time.

You may notice a theme developing here, this is no doubt down to the fact that products in the Fantasy realm are normally aimed at the male half of the population and are also created in the majority by those men. Now, I’m not dumb enough to postulate that these characters fulfill the whims and lusts of the creators who have a lack of experience in dealing with the female half… I don’t think that’s it at all, even though we can all picture a stereotypical gamer locked in his parents basement fantasising about conquests with amazingly hot women. We’ve all been teenagers after all. Yet, being in my third decade upon God’s Earth I obviously have different sensibilities than when I was younger and still, even though I know a large portion of gamers exists these days that are not in their teens, many have even left the confines of parental subterranean domiciles, we find that a large proportion of models showing females are less protected than might otherwise be reasonably expected. Whether this is a mere continuation of something that has existed since gaming first crept from the fiery chasm whence it came or a deliberate design philosophy is not something I am in a position to declare, but in Fantasy in particular, this theme occurs again and again. I know of a great many companies that make astoundingly detailed models and yet when you get down to representations of women, well, they must spend a lot of the time a little on the chilly side. My wife tends to be cold when we set our central heating to “African Summer” so I can only imagine what these poor model ladies go through if their physiology matches that of my wife and other ladies I know.

In Sci-fi things get a little better. The Sisters of Battle for 40k are equipped in the same kind of armour that protects perennial GW favourites the Space Marines, but even here we have a unit of silk shrouded lunatic chainsaw-wielders in the form of the Sisters Repentia. Filling a stereotypical need? Maybe, the models are good but the rules suck so you don’t often see them. Privateer Presses Iron Kingdoms universe with its Steampunk theme also means that we get women who wear a little more, however, as anyone who plays Cryx knows, that doesn’t hold true for all factions. Most of the Cryxian Warcasters are a little less armoured than other factions and we even have a triumvirate of teenagers with side-boob capacity the envy of women twice their age.

Is it purely down to male flights of fancy that all these female figures are defined by a pretty standard set of guidelines. They are invariably thing with large chests, many of these bosoms on display as part of the model, sometimes even fully exposed rather than just a prodigious cleavage. Is there a need for it? I don’t think so, I am sure that sales of female figures would not dramatically decrease if we suddenly saw a reduction in the output of such things. Do we want to see fat chicks modelled? Well, probably not, we play in a stylised environment that is heavily male dominated. Male figures with wang all over the place would not be nearly as endearing to the female audience as busty beauties are to men. We use these games as an escape from our humdrum every day lives and therefore having scantily clad babes all over the place caters to the most base of male instincts. It’s amusing that a hobby that has matured over the years still sticks with those themes that may have piqued the interests of those of us who still play during those formative teenage years. Things probably haven’t changed to entice a new generation of players. It amuses me though that we can still stick to these things that inevitably draw criticism from other quarters regarding the portrayal of these characters. Now, it may be that women in the universes we play in are happy with their lot but if we want to encourage ladies to engage in our hobby and not feel objectified as soon as they step into a store perhaps we need to change how they are portrayed upon the tabletop?

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Conventions In Gaming – Sportsmanship


You can’t really discuss gaming without, at some point, ending up talking about what this post is all aboot. (See what I did thar?) This topic can bring up  a lot of disagreement as well as a lot of sagely nodding of heads and “hear hears” from those of us who have been around long enough to think of our gaming groups in a similar vein to gentleman’s clubs, just without the sitting around in silk smoking jackets with a cigar in one hand and a brandy in the other.

So, if this topic can bring up interesting debate, from what angle am I going to approach writing this post? Exactly the same way I approach all my posts, with reference to my own history and those people that I choose to spend my time gaming with. But we should perhaps try and start with a definition of sportsmanship, to avoid confusion let’s copy/pasta an official definition;

sportsman

(or sportswoman)

noun 1 a person who takes part in a sport, especially as a professional. 2 a person who behaves sportingly.

— DERIVATIVES sportsmanlike adjective sportsmanship noun.

Hmmm, still  leaves a lot open to interpretation doesn’t it? So, let’s try again;

sporting

adjective 1 connected with or interested in sport. 2 fair and generous in one’s behaviour.

— DERIVATIVES sportingly adverb.

That certainly helps to clear things up, when we play games we should be “fair and generous” in our behaviour. My own personal definition relating to Sportsmanship is that players on both sides of the table should both be able to have an enjoyable game whereby both parties profit from the experience and time spent together. Slightly different but nonetheless a valid extension of the official definition. Why is this aspect of gaming important? Well, if both players are not sporting then normally the game ends up with at least one of the players feeling like they’ve wasted their time and could have better spent it doing something else. Games are meant to be fun for both players and no-one wants to spend a couple of hours with their opponent bad mouthing them or telling them just how much fail their army list is composed of because they have taken sub-optimal units. Tournaments even tend towards having a Sportsmanship award these days to encourage people to be more sporting. Yet, if this behaviour is encouraged, what are some examples of sporting behaviour? Let’s have a look and then go on into a further discussion about how I see Sportsmanship, how I apply it in games I play and how I see it being applied.

Obvious examples of sporting behaviour is reminding your opponent that he forgot something, for instance “are you sure you want to move that unit before you declare charges?” or “I know you have no shooting but do you really want to go straight to the combat phase before casting any spells?” Both are mistakes I have made in the past few months, what can I say? I get excited when things get up close and personal. This isn’t the only aspect of it though, I am sure we have all been there when a unit has charged into combat to come up a millimetre short, in these cases it should be easy enough to let them charge on in anyway rather than failing. I have a comical image in my head related to this as I imagine this rampaging group of barbarians throwing themselves at an enemy just to stop within axe swinging distance and then having to walk back a few feet because their charge didn’t quite reach. I know that’s a rather simplistic view of the way the rules for Warhammer Fantasy are (after all each turn is just a segment of time) but I think it highlights the point I am trying to make.

Yet, should this be our behaviour all the time? I am not a tournament player and I can imagine a situation whereby a failed charge (even by that millimetre) could allow you a counter charge in your next turn that could turn a disadvantageous situation into an advantageous one. In real battle capitalizing on your opponent’s mistakes is going to help to achieve victory and simulated battles are no different. I reckon that all players, like myself, can come up with a lot of stories whereby they have achieved victory through a mistake an opponent has made, knowingly or unwittingly, but surely, by the letter of a sporting behaviour law we should offer advice and assistance to let them know what is going on?

This leads me to how I deal with Sportsmanship in my own games and with my friends. For me, it all depends on how familiar we are with the game. I have an abhorrence of cheating, it devalues a game for all that play it and getting one up on someone through playing outside the rules, well, you might as well not even bother playing the game in my opinion. Yet, when I am learning a new game it is inevitable that mistakes creep in as we familiarise ourselves with the rules, I normally kick myself after such games where I’ve done something wrong after going over the game in my head or even when I’ve forgotten something that could have saved my bacon. So, when we are learning something new (like Space Hulk and Uncharted Seas at the moment) I give and expect to be given some leeway in how we do things and a less rigid application of the ruleset as we get used to things. This is of course vastly different to how Gribblin and I play our Fantasy games. We have gotten to the point now where if I forget to declare a charge I have to live with it, if I skip a phase, that’s my error and the same is applied. This means our games probably come over as a little more competitive and they are, but regardless of the outcome we both enjoy ourselves and also end up having to remember and learn from the mistakes we make so that we do not make them again.

There is also normally some good natured trash talking going on during the game and always once we are finished we will review each other’s performances and offer suggestions on what went well and what didn’t, where we went wrong and how we could have done things differently. Normally, one of us blames some dodgy dice (me more than anyone else at the moment). I cannot recall any bitterness coming out of any of our games and therefore I feel that we have a pretty sporting thing going on. We all enjoy ourselves even come the points when we lose, if everyone has fun then it’s a win all around really. So I believe that you can still be sporting without giving your opponent free advice, sure if they are new then you’re going to give them some leeway and be helpful during a game, crushing someone who has their first game against you isn’t going to endear them to the hobby nor the people that play. However, any of us old hands can take things a bit more seriously and still find ourselves having fun, sporting and competitive games.