After I wrote this post about sexism in gaming and other male dominated things I was a little anxious about going to buy a copy of Call of Cthulhu See, I want to a game again. Like I said before, I know the chauvinism exists and I'm tired of fighting the fights but I won't prevent me from doing the things I love.
I ran a game in Manchester for the vampire LARP we used to play and god I loved it so much. It was one of those times where you really love your hobbies and remember why you do them, instead of a lingering sense of obligation. My game was atmosphere and puzzle heavy, my players had a direct influence on their environment and a world to interact with that had it's own personality. I was inspired by the Buffy Joss Whedon style of world building. Manchester was how it is, just a little bit worse.
That policeman over there? He's part of an anti-terrorism task force and is trying to root out extremists, if you cross him he will kill you under lenient UK directives. The canals harbor an angry spirit of a woman who committed suicide and was frozen in ice in the 19th century.* And inspired by my amazing friend Matt's ideas about a spirit embodying the city, I had two. Both were on opposite sides of Manchester's Peterloo Massacre. The darker, draconian and vicious spirit was one of the Calvary that slayed the demonstrators. The other was a woman that was killed when they charged.
Depending on how the players interacted with the environment, one or the other would appear and talk to them. If they showed malice, they represented the Calvary. If what they did was pushing the city to greater things, it was the old woman slain. My favorite part of running games was seeing how people could impact that environment and how they dealt with the world. Did they accept they were authoritarian monsters destroying everything around them? Were the comfortable with being activist innocents?
We had two friends come to visit us in May for my husband and I's vow renewal. They're still very much involved in that LARP. It made me want to run a game again, to see people get enjoyment from something I created and they interacted with and changed. I prefer horror to sci-fi and fantasy genres and Call of Cthulhu seemed a logical step.
So the contest between how satisfying storytelling was and my trepidation about what I'd have to deal with weighed on my mind. I walked down to Guardian Games to get my books, determined to let it slide off. You know what? As much as my women in gaming post is true, it's also a little bit false. The response I got when I was browsing was a customer service-y "can I help you find anything?" Not a note of condescension. When I went to the counter the guy helping me was talking to me about the game, supplements and how much he liked it.
As much as there are still things to rail against, there are also little pockets of acceptance. Women cam game! Women do run games! And sometimes we have a place to go.
* I wish I could remember the source for this. It's a true story I pulled when I was researching the history of the city.