Friday, March 28, 2014

Girls at the table, or different people play differently

Reblogging this article by Uri Kurlianchik, a gamer, youth activity director, and former writer for Wizards.  Per his words, this article got him blacklisted at Wizards for being scandalous.

So I read the article and kept waiting for the inflammatory part, or the controversial part, or the knuckledragging mouthbreather part. But couldn't find them.  That's because Uri works and plays with kids, observes kids, and like any good teacher or mentor, 'gets' kids.

This article likely rubbed folks the wrong way because some people have been conditioned to suppress the appreciation of differences. (I don't know the whole story, but knowing trolls and forums, can make some inferences...) There seems to have been an attempt over the last generation or so to downplay the differences between the sexes rather than accept them as being complimentary to one another.

That and the whole political correctness thing... 

Honestly, though, what what written here has been discussed ad nauseam through plenty of social studies, teamwork studies, education studies, etc. Boys and girls play and role-play differently. There is plenty of 'nurture' but there is still underlying personality and 'nature'.

Take a boy raised by hippie parents who gave him 'gender-neutral' toys and kept him off violence, give him a stick, and he'll turn it into a sword or gun. Likewise I recently read an anecdote of a dad who played with a firetruck for his daughter - she took it and wrapped it in a blanket, saying that it must be tired from all that running around... 

There has been a significant amount of discussion regarding making gaming and the culture more inclusive and inviting to girls/women - get over the sausage party stereotype of the Mountain Dew and Cheetos crowd...  This conversation has also been running for about a generation - and certainly inroads are being made. 

This is similar to the discussion of the math/science break with adolescence, where there begin to be a divergence of interests, even if male and female students are scoring similarly or have similar aptitude:

Briefly, adolescence girls tend to become self conscious at the same time that boys tend to become arrogant.  (Got one of those girls - who used to be unfiltered and fearless, now spends an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom, checking complexion and if she has a belly [she doesn't] and slathering herself with mysterious unguents, alchemical potions, kohl and carmine...)  Not that there aren't the quiet sensitive boys out there too. 

Similarly, take out 'boys and girls' and substitute 'extroverts and introverts' - the current pop-psych trend. They take different approaches to interpreting stimuli or information and problem-solve differently, as well. 

Excellent - people are not meant to be cookie-cutter souls. We complement one another. Any team needs leaders, collaborators, observers, etc. 

Your PC party? They are a team - often dysfunctional, squabbling, unfocused, but once motivated, they take on a problem or seek that goal. Just like in 'real life.'

So the moral of the story? Learn to recognize and encourage strengths, plus learn to interpret and read those of others.  If you are playing with kids, as Uri does (or even a beginning, self-conscious player), help them find their 'character', their voice, and their approach.  Different approaches are not weakness.

(By the way - daughter plays hard-charging barbarian, wife plays elf thief who takes stuff.)

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