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Calling All Women!


AlphaKennyThing
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Ladies (and participating gents),

I'm after your thoughts. Recently my wife has started making terrain as a side job, as she's pretty darn good at it. She figured that in order to better make terrain for games, she'd better learn to play the games, so she'd know what people were after. I of course have no complaints here, as that means I have someone to play against at home! Given my wife thought I was a right man-child for liking tabletop wargaming for the last 8 years, this is a tremendous turn of events.

So, off we went to Games Workshop for a paint re-stock and she decided to have a look at some armies. Whilst wrestling a Mortarion box out my 2 year old's clutches, I heard my better half asking the store manager where all the female models were. Obviously this caught him slightly off guard, but he went on to explain that a lot of armies contain old models that were designed without female audiences in mind, but newer ranges had more included and future ranges should do too.

I had a walk round with her and she pointed out she had two choices, Stormcast, wearing complete plate armour with little variance, or totally naked Daughters of Khaine, which she described (probably accurately) as 'a nerd's fantasy of a female Elven warrior'. I pointed out the Darkoath Warqueen, but she was equally unimpressed with her choice of armour. 'Show cleavage, tummy or leg, but never all three - it's tacky' is apparently a rule that I remained blissfully unaware of as a male.

So she sadly concluded that her choices were Warcraft Paladin lookalikes in the armoured equivalent of turtlenecks, or dagger-wielding High School cheerleaders. I didn't really have much of an answer to that. That said she did think the Stormcast were decent, the aesthetic just didn't float her boat.

Shortly after, the store manager fired up the Wanderers page on the GW site, and Jen's eyes lit up. An army that included females in practical, functional armour that looked natural and capable. She immediately decided they'd be her army, which was great.

They didn't have any in store, so she settled for picking up a Darkling Covens Sorceress and some Green Stuff. She used said Green Stuff to make a full dress for the Sorceress, as apparently she was making a cardinal sin going to battle in basically a bikini.

On the journey home she raised a good point. There are lots of females into fantasy stuff nowadays, thanks to Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Warcraft, a resurgence in games like D&D and many other things that have lessened the 'stigma' of the genre. It is a great time now for GW to capitalise on the other 50% of the human population by designing some armies that are inclusive of female models that are appealing to female players. I'm not sure if GW might lack some experience here, or perhaps need to have a big consultation with some newer female gamers (or potential gamers) and work out what would be the best approach to get girls young and old interested in picking up an army and getting involved. Had Wanderers not been the perfect balance of feminine yet warlike she simply wouldn't have bought an army. Obviously the Nighthaunt has some Banshees, but a dead thing is a dead thing really, regardless of gender.

So, ladies, or blokes with similar experiences with partners, do you think GW has enough out at the moment to interest and entice a female audience, and what sort of army do you think needs to be designed that would tick all the boxes?

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a thread to discuss opinions on the inclusion of females in warfare, it's a fantasy game and they already are included in the setting, so that ship has sailed. The idea is to get opinions on what would be great moves by GW to get more females playing, which may end up being a good thread for GW designers to peruse once it gets going. Mods please feel free to robustly moderate any replies that stray from the goal of the thread, which is to include, not alienate.

I want more people playing!

Edited by AlphaKennyThing
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They definitely don't have the range yet and it's a shame. I can totally understand that it takes ages to create a new line and they're still trying to get all the current ranges up to scratch so expecting things to be fixed overnight is asking a lot but yes, certainly when my wife and I went down to get her some models she wasn't blown away by the options (and she actually likes the ludicrous Witch Elf OTT style).

Honestly it's a no brainer I'd have thought, you just see how well received identifiably female Stormcast have been. Moves like that are what convinced me this game has a future when I started getting back into it.

Likewise racial diversity. Obviously you can paint your plastic any colour you want but that's a fudge and everyone knows it. Seriously if someone at GW isn't frantically creating a fairly lightly disguised Wakandan army they're leaving money on the table. Just think... armoured battle rhinos, dora milaje style ass kicking bald warrior women, etc etc etc. That's just money being left on the table (and a lot of good will and press too)*.

There's a million easier, less expensive and cooler hobby options out there, widening the appeal is never going to be a bad thing for all concerned. Even take away the 'diversity is just a good thing' angle that seems to upset some odd people, financially it makes sense. 

 

 

* that's of course assuming the sculpts, lore and narrative surrounding them are handled with a modicum of taste and respect.

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My partner played a mixed order list comprising of the older Aelven factions, there’s some great sculpts in there between sisters of the watch, sisters of the thorn, wanderer range, mistweaver etc. These days she’s on to death because they’re cool, I think assuming people will only play models of their own gender is a little short sighted really, with Sequitors and the new Stormcast GW is moving to a fairer representation where appropriate but a lot of the races are so far removed gender is irrelevant (Daemons, Orruks, Gross, Ogors, Seraphon, Sylvaneth) or so armoured you couldn’t tell the difference (Kharadon)

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Idoneth Deepkin have both genders represented fairly. 1/3 eel riders are female, 4/10 nemarti, 1/4 ishrann heroes. I believe there is a female model that comes with the turtle.

It may be difficult to tell with the akhelians because they all wear the same armour. There isn't any boob or excessive flesh being shown at all, which is likely due to the fact that over half of them are blind and all of them are pretty keen to avoid intense sensual experience. 

If you look at the new sculpts GW have released for sigmar this year all of them have female representation. Even the ghosts got banshees and a lady hero. 

That said I don't think they should be including diversity for the sake of it. For example I'm quite keen not to see female dwarfs, ogors and greens kins as they don't fit with the setting and established lore. 

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40K side my impression is that there are quite of lot of women who game with Tyranids - certainly the Hive forum tends to have more women around than many other wargame sites (accepting that many might be unknown simply because of their choice of username)

I think part of it is that there is a general lack of women speaking in the hobby to voice their desires and that when they do speak its often unheard or its a small voice against the tide of male opinion. I'm not saying that guys are forcing things their way, but that with fewer women (esp traditionally in the past) they've simply fewer voices to make their point heard. Also we can't overlook the fact that some will like cheerleader dagger wielding armies, so its not as if all womanhood present a united front. GW side we've seen a lot more women in their open design team and structure over the last year or so now that they've opened up way more with their community interaction. I think that women working for GW is nothing new, but what is new is that we are seeing them as opposed to the closed shop view that the old management had. I think that's a big thing and I really hope that they push more into the forefront positions. GW has been really luck with Duncan and how he's not just a good painter but a natural people person and presenter, they could do with steadily finding a few women like that to not just get regular slots and have regular content, but just to be a face on the screen (without forcing it). 

I also agree with @JPjr that just because women are women doesn't mean that they "need" an all women force; nor that every army needs women in them. It works great for Stormcast because they are an army not  comprised of a people, but of powerful souls who reached out for revenge against Chaos and called to Sigmar for that revenge. So men and women makes sense in their ranks. In other armies there's no barrier or reason not to have women whilst in others they are all women and in some there iwll be a social reason why there shouldn't be any women. Orks are basically near genderless but mostly macho-male in their outlook; meanwhile if they re-introduce human factions they could easily add a Chivalrous based faction (new brets) who have no women or just a Joan of Arc hero since their faction structure would be different. To me that is the important thing, that GW doesn't just push female models in everywhere,but that the game retains a strength of its own lore and that each faction is dealt with on its own terms. One big power of AoS is that the realm system means GW can shoe-horn in almost any faction they want now so they can cater to specific markets - if those markets rise up to have their voice heard in unison. 

I think the story and lore side and also the fact that different factions attract people for different reasons. Gender is just one aspect and shouldn't be the dominant  consideration.

 

Anyway that's enough guy rambling *quickly hides*

Heck @AlphaKennyThing it would be great to hear from your wife here on the forums under her own name and account :) Great way for her to present her hobby terrain and such (might want to talk to mods before doing that since it could count as advertising). 

 

 

 

 

As for women in wargaming they've always been there! My view is more gamers the better and I don't care if they are guys, gals or identify as a potato (as long as they don't protest the eating of chips). 

Edited by Overread
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@Overread hmmm, I was with you up until that last paragraph which I have to, respectfully say, I believe is way off the mark. Yes there have always been women involved in wargaming, RPGs, fantasy etc etc but the idea that these things have only become an issue in the past few years because of uppity women is a swing and a miss. 

You say no one cared, but more likely no one was listening. what you have is women who are now feeling empowered to speak their minds more and demand better treatment and who have support networks to boost those voices and a culture more open to acknowledging their existence. the idea though that 'the war is won' is nonsense, on a macro level women still put up with a hell of a lot of unconscionable ****** from men all day, every day.

and any percentage who are against "all forms of sexuality and expression" are a minuscule number. most just want to be treated with respect, have more options than just naked sex priestess and be made to feel welcome. 

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Aha I'm convincing her to get stuck in to the forums so she can showcase some of her handywork. It's pretty impressive for a first go!

@Marc Wilson this is seriously not designed to be The Becca Scott Thread Mk.2, it was more me trying to find out on my wife's behalf if any other girls or partners of members found the current range of armies slightly limited in terms of getting girls interested.

Having just sat and had a chat with her, she doesn't want an all female army, though appreciates some people might be huge fans of Daughters of Khaine. She reckons the Stormcast line is getting it just right in terms of adding everyone in, she just thinks an army of human/Elven types that aren't blind/dead/made of wood/rotting would be a great entry point for people dipping their toe in.

For example, Darkoath including some badass Shieldmaiden types, or the new shiny Aelves that are due sometime in the future having some fantastic angelic models that are wearing more than their underwear. Alarielle is a great model in this regard.

Idoneth Deepkin unfortunately got a firm pass from my missus when she saw them riding eels and the like. That's obviously more on her than GW.

Anyway getting back on track, does anyone have any opinions from partners or ways of coercing them onto the forum to have a chat about it? I'll be getting Mrs AlphaKennyThing involved later on when she's free.

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@Overread fair enough! if your gaming groups have been beacons of equality then great, and to be honest as I've re-immersed myself back in this hobby I've been impressed with the strides that have been made from when I first got into it back in the late 80s. things are moving in the right direction and getting a lot better, just if we want this past time to keep growing and just be a nicer environment we should acknowledge that we still have a fair way to go.

I mean in comparison to a lot of other places online that focus on this kind of niche hobby this community seems remarkably well adjusted, but even here a fairly innocuous post about female representation is so far (and yes it's early days) it's solely a bunch of blokes discussing it, we've had the skeletons are gender neutral canard thrown out, one slightly dismissive 'oh this again' and "1/3 eel riders are female, 4/10 nemarti, 1/4 ishrann heroes" being held up as an example of gender equality. Now that isn't to say any of the above are meant particularly maliciously or whatever but still we should be aware of what kind of environment we create and how that will affect others.

Really I just say has anyone ever walked into a darkened, musty games shop, taken a big lungful of air and thought to themselves what this place really needs is more unwashed ballsacks. Maybe it's just me but I'd take being a small part of a happy, outward, fun and open community over being king of the ragebeards any day.

Edited by JPjr
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2 minutes ago, JPjr said:

@Overread fair enough! if your gaming groups have been beacons of equality then great, and to be honest as I've re-immersed myself back in this hobby I've been impressed with the strides that have been made from when I first got into it back in the late 80s. things are moving in the right direction and getting a lot better, just if we want this past time to keep growing and just be a nicer environment we should acknowledge that we still have a fair way to go.

I mean in comparison to a lot of other places online that focus on this kind of niche hobby this community seems remarkably well adjusted, but even here a fairly innocuous post about female representation is so far (and yes it's early days) it's solely a bunch of blokes discussing it, we've had the skeletons are gender neutral canard thrown out, one slightly dismissive 'oh this again' and "1/3 eel riders are female, 4/10 nemarti, 1/4 ishrann heroes" being held up as an example of gender equality. Now that isn't to say any of the above are meant particularly maliciously or whatever but still we should be aware of what kind of environment we create and how that will affect others.

Really I just say has anyone ever walked into a darkened, musty games shop, taken a big lungful of air and thought to themselves what this place really needs is more unwashed ballsacks. Maybe it's just me but I'd take being a small part of a happy, outward, fun and open community over being king of the ragebeards any day.

I think that's quite unfair. Firstly in regard to the gender of posters, just because one does not start a post with "I am a woman" does not mean they can be assumed as male. 

Secondly, I wasnt trying to be dismissive with my comment about deepkin. I was simply stating an army that was recently released which, in my opinion, has a good variety of male and female models as well as dressing them both appropriately for combat. 

Thirdly, its natural for people of both sexes to enjoy activities which are in a majority same sex environment. The way we behave as people around a group of friends of the same sex is often different to when in a mixed environment and these kind of relationships can be very satisfying. 

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4 minutes ago, JPjr said:

 

I mean in comparison to a lot of other places online that focus on this kind of niche hobby this community seems remarkably well adjusted, but even here a fairly innocuous post about female representation is so far (and yes it's early days) it's solely a bunch of blokes discussing it, we've had the skeletons are gender neutral canard thrown out, one slightly dismissive 'oh this again' and "1/3 eel riders are female, 4/10 nemarti, 1/4 ishrann heroes" being held up as an example of gender equality. Now that isn't to say any of the above are meant particularly maliciously or whatever but still we should be aware of what kind of environment we create and how that will affect others.
 

Yes I was slightly concerned this may be the case. I am seriously keen to get the female view on things, even if that information is second hand from a sideways glance to people's partners and asking 'What sort of thing would get you into tabletop wargaming?'. Amongst the replies of 'a million bucks' or 'nothing, I'd rather watch paint dry' there are bound to be some interesting replies!

So as much as I'd love to hear your opinions in every other thread on this forum, in this instance I'm after those of your wives/girlfriends/friends/siblings!

To repeat the question clear and so give a theme for people's replies:

As a female, what sort of thing would get you into Age of Sigmar?

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Hi @HollowHills, sorry if that came off as unfair. I wasn't trying to make out you were some terrible person but just saying it shows where we're at that fractions like 1/3 and 1/4 are considered equal. Now you can totally make the case that these things are incremental and take time to change and expecting 50/50 parity now (or indeed any time soon) is unrealistic (or I would happily say in many cases undesirable) but we should still be aware that the disparity is there.

As for it being natural for people to enjoy same sex environments, well I'm very sorry but you'll have to speak for yourself there and most importantly surely if that was the case that's for your private gaming group, not the hobby as a whole. Keep women (or men if that's the case) out of your gaming groups if you really want (and tbh I could understand women creating women only groups) but don't make it harder or less welcoming to enjoy the hobby itself, all I'm saying is listen and consider what people unlike yourself are saying.

Anyway I wasn't trying to call you out just saying we should every once in a while stop to examine our views because we all hold ingrained prejudices that we're often not aware of, I know for sure I do and it's something I'm trying to do better (and not always succeeding, such is life) .

Edited by JPjr
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1 hour ago, AlphaKennyThing said:

Obviously this caught him slightly off guard, but he went on to explain that a lot of armies contain old models that were designed without female audiences in mind, but newer ranges had more included and future ranges should do too.

I think he got the gist of it. If you look at the newer ranges (check out Idoneth for example, their battleline is mixed sex) they are definitely making the right effort. Might not be there yet but it's getting better. 
Some goes for the changes to the stormcast range since the start of AoS. Big improvement in that sense. 

As for me and the missus her opinion. Her first response to my witch elves was WTF. With the background of the lore, it was a fine choice and her choice of faction in an upcoming Skirmish Campaign. Context does matter!
But yes if you need to read a 100page book to understand the metal bikini's the balance might be a bit off ;) 
Also when I showed some of the ranges she ended up liking Seraphon the best. Don't know what that says about me...

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After having discussed this post with my other half:

Not being referred "a female" might be a good start, not sure about around where you are but my other half prefers to be referred to as a woman (much like we say a bunch of guys or men in a room, not bunch of males)

When my other half plays its in creative, or narrative events because its much more about the story and the enjoyment than it is about a bled competitive game to the death, however I must stress this varies as much from person to person regardless of gender. We all derive different enjoyment of the hobby as individuals not as a specific "Me man, me likey hitty things"

Things that have been a deterrant in the past:
- Forced inclusion (You came in with your partner, you must try this now, you MUST)
- Poor humour (Some gaming groups become cesspits of "banter" that is insulting and drives anyone away regardless of gender)
- Stop sterotyping (You're a woman, here's a box of women, here you must like them because they're your gender)
- Don't hard sell. This is a niche hobby, people either like it or they dont, never assume gender was an impact in the fact that some people just dont like wargaming.

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1 hour ago, AlphaKennyThing said:

So, ladies, or blokes with similar experiences with partners, do you think GW has enough out at the moment to interest and entice a female audience, and what sort of army do you think needs to be designed that would tick all the boxes?

I think we're already starting to see a shift in product ranges to make different model ranges more appealing to a cross-section of gamers.  I was up at WHW this weekend and would say that the Kill Team Open Day and Tournament had more ladies in attendance than I've seen at other similar events, which I felt was really positive.

I know from my own group of female friends that many of them aren't really interested in playing an army vs army style games.  The prospect of assembling and painting hundreds of models just doesn't appeal.  Some prefer a co-op game rather than PvP and certainly tagging the word "competitive" to a game system isn't going to help encourage play.  Equally some simply paint the models that appeal - quite often animal based ones.

AoS certainly has a really fine juggling act - you have to balance the whole partially clad stereotype with practicality and appeal.  If we're honest, bare chested Khorne crazed barbarians are almost as impractical as bikini-clad aelves, but both have a space within our background.  What I'd personally love to see is some new factions coming along rather than trying to "correct" other ones.

One real positive that I see is that we're finally seeing skulls being put onto less models for the sake of it!  If I had a pound everytime somebody I know went "Why is there a skull there" I'd be a rich bloke!

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4 minutes ago, JPjr said:

Hi @HollowHills, sorry if that came off as unfair. I wasn't trying to make out you were some terrible person but just saying it shows where we're at that fractions like 1/3 and 1/4 are considered equal. Now you can totally make the case that these things are incremental and take time to change and expecting 50/50 parity now (or indeed any time soon) is unrealistic but we should still be aware that the disparity is there.

As for it being natural for people to enjoy same sex environments, well I'm very sorry but you'll have to speak for yourself there and most importantly surely if that was the case that's for your private gaming group, not the hobby as a whole. Keep women (or men if that's the case) out of your gaming groups if you really want (and tbh I could understand women creating women only groups) but don't make it harder or less welcoming to enjoy the hobby itself, all I'm saying is listen and consider what people unlike yourself are saying.

Anyway I wasn't trying to call you out just saying we should every once in a while stop to examine our views because we all hold ingrained prejudices that we're often not aware of, I know for sure I do and it's something I'm trying to do better (and not always succeeding, such is life) .

What is the benefit to 50/50 equality? That seems an arbitrary target that would supervene itself against more important elements to consider, for example the lore and story of the specific faction involved. I think we should all be in favour of fair representation, rather than 50/50 equality. To clarify what I mean by that is that models in Age of Sigmar should accurately represent a diverse range of peoples in a way which fits naturally with the world which has been created. In that sense we don't need to argue for more male models in a DoK army, and it may make perfect sense for the majority of close combat fighters to be male as at least in the case of humans they are physically stronger, more inclined towards combat etcetera. This creates a game world which while fantastical does portray diversity equal to the world we live in. As another poster has mentioned, this needs to include ethnicities and cultures which are not designed to be exclusively modeled on European norms.

In the case of it being natural for enjoying same sex environments there are many examples I can point out, for instance the idea of a "girl's night out" often comes with certain connotations that express a different kind of experience to a mixed gathering. One which is entertaining and enjoyable for many women. Just as team sports, though traditionally more popular with men, resulted in bonds of brotherhood or sisterhood which cannot necessarily existed in a mixed environment. Anyone who has had social relationships of a mixed environment and a single sex environment can testify that they are different and scratch different itches when it comes to our existence as social animals. That said I would never dream of keeping any group of people outside of my gaming circle, I actively encourage the growth of my local community regardless of the attitudes, backgrounds and genders of those involved. However, that does not mean that there is no place for a few of us (men) to find enjoyment in having a laugh over Warhammer and a break from our (female) partners at home. This is male bonding and it isn't at all unhealthy.

Now back onto the topic at hand...

My lovely partner has never shown any kind of interest in Warhammer, this is despite the fact she is very much into her fantasy video games and also enjoys a variety of board games. Ultimately I think it comes down to the fact that "construction" based activities are generally something which appeals to men more than women. There is possibly more overlap between the urge of a middle aged dad to put up a new shed and a teenager gluing his plastic men together than there is between a woman who loves Skyrim and the same teen. I would also suggest, again none of this is meant to say women of the opposite do not exist, that Warhammer is generally a competitive activity and competition is enjoyed more  by men than women. My partner tends to enjoy games where "winning" or acquiring points, directly competing etcetera are not important to the overall focus of the game. As an example she enjoys Carcassonne, a game where one can focus on building the map and developing one's own personal projects. I hope that provides some insight OP. 

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23 minutes ago, Melcavuk said:

After having discussed this post with my other half:

Not being referred "a female" might be a good start, not sure about around where you are but my other half prefers to be referred to as a woman (much like we say a bunch of guys or men in a room, not bunch of males)

When my other half plays its in creative, or narrative events because its much more about the story and the enjoyment than it is about a bled competitive game to the death, however I must stress this varies as much from person to person regardless of gender. We all derive different enjoyment of the hobby as individuals not as a specific "Me man, me likey hitty things"

Things that have been a deterrant in the past:
- Forced inclusion (You came in with your partner, you must try this now, you MUST)
- Poor humour (Some gaming groups become cesspits of "banter" that is insulting and drives anyone away regardless of gender)
- Stop sterotyping (You're a woman, here's a box of women, here you must like them because they're your gender)
- Don't hard sell. This is a niche hobby, people either like it or they dont, never assume gender was an impact in the fact that some people just dont like wargaming.

The female part of the question was dictated by Mrs AlphaKennyThing, this messenger shalt not be shot! Apparently the word woman carries far too much responsibility for her, though she's a mother of three!

She absolutely agreed with all your OH's points though, especially on the narrative/story side of things which is interesting. And the 'here's a box of women, you must like them' comment got a big 'absolutely' and sad face.

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2 hours ago, AlphaKennyThing said:

Yeah, every other female I know who has any interest in AoS has gone for Sylvaneth. Not sure what it is about them!

and most of the female players i know in 40k play tyrannid. Maybe they like to play a "natural" army with beasts or plants ?

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3 minutes ago, HollowHills said:

What is the benefit to 50/50 equality? That seems an arbitrary target that would supervene itself against more important elements to consider, for example the lore and story of the specific faction involved.

yes I actually agree and had edited my post to say that in many cases 50/50 might not be desirable, but across the range I hope they will continue to increase the numbers. 

Though I do say that I think appealing to 'lore' as a justification can be.... drumroll please... problematic.

After all we're dealing with a made up fantasy world, which especially in AOS has been presented as containing vast, almost infinite realms containing all manner of multitudes. At the end of the day lore is just what someone has made up and can (and probably should) be always open to reinterpretation and evolution.

If the majority of that 'lore' was chiseled into stone at a time when women were being excluded, intentionally or not, from the game then why not revisit it. 

Indeed I'd say that's one of the huge benefits that we can all enjoy from diversity (whether that's in gender, race, sexuality). More voices, with more opinions almost inevitably leads to more interesting stories and more interesting ideas. 

With AOS it looks like, to me at least, that GW wanted to try and start afresh, throw off the baggage of 30+ years of rules and lore and come up with some new ideas, yes for IP reasons but also because the tropes are tired. We've had decades of 'Dwarves' being miners, why not stick them in hot air balloons! Orcs & goblins always behave in the exact same way well maybe they don't have to.

What interesting stories can we tell if we refuse to be locked in to what everyone else has done before. Even something as simple as what would a matriarchal Dwarf society be like? Wouldn't you be interested to know? Would that not inspire some wonderful new models and stories?

Or what if the main human faction wasn't just the same renaissance era Germanic forces? What can you do with that that's fresh and exciting.

I'm sure if they could have GW would have liked to start AoS with all new armies and models, but obviously that's a non starter so they're having to slowly introduce these new things, but hopefully it will only get weirder and wilder from here on out with elves becoming angles/demon type characters and who knows what else.

Every time you take something that's been established and done to death and think well why does it always have to be this way, you open up the chance to create something new, that will move the game forward.

 

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