Gamer Stats From White Dwarf in the 80s
  • Gamer Stats From White Dwarf in the 80s


    Phil on Twitter has posted a few interesting stats from White Dwarf back in the 80s. These include what games were being played in 1987, and a letter about male/female ratios in the same era. Short version: mainly D&D, very few women.


    "Fascinating stuff - what RPGs were being played in the UK in 1987 ... T&T higher than you might've thought. Indiana Jones too!"



    "I know people say women have always been in gaming, and that's true. But this single stat highlights why for many of us seeing a female gamer in the wild was unheard of until the Masquerade began to change things... Average readership of White Dwarf in 1987 was 16.08... Which means they'd now be 48"

    Comments 177 Comments
    1. JonnyP71's Avatar
      JonnyP71 -
      UK player here, I was 15 (maybe 16) when that article was published - depending on when in 1987 that was printed (tick)
      We mainly played AD&D (tick), with some D&D, Paranoia, Marvel, MERP, and tried Toon - probably in that order in terms of frequency.
      I went to an all boys school, though it was located opposite a girls school, many of us travelled to school together on the same train across town. We got mocked for playing RPGs on the train - mostly by the girls - who showed no interest in joining in!
    1. jmucchiello's Avatar
      jmucchiello -
      I'm blanking on GH. I'm sure it'll end up being something I go 'oh, of course' but at the moment, No idea.
    1. Hussar's Avatar
      Hussar -
      Heh, funnily enough, Paizo did a similar sort of reader poll back in the oughts and the stats weren't all that different. Average reader age was like 21 and only about 10% women. I really need to dig that issue out for the exact numbers.
    1. Jer's Avatar
      Jer -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmucchiello View Post
      I'm blanking on GH. I'm sure it'll end up being something I go 'oh, of course' but at the moment, No idea.
      I think, given that it's the UK in the 80s, GH would likely be Golden Heroes - a superhero game published by Games Workshop in the 80s that AFAIK is pretty obscure outside of the UK (I only know of it because I love superhero games - I've never seen a copy myself.)
    1. Von Ether's Avatar
      Von Ether -
      Who published the Ringworld RPG?
    1. bedir than's Avatar
      bedir than -
      Were these polls done by requiring someone to mail back a response?
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      Quote Originally Posted by bedir than View Post
      Were these polls done by requiring someone to mail back a response?
      Snail mail was pretty much it in 1987. WD was a print magazine. The only other possibility than the mail would be from conventions. No phone polls for this. So, self selection by mail in responses.

      *Edit* I remember reading this and similar polls in various magazines back in the day. I never participated. I would have been 28 / 29 at the time... my brother owned the local FLGS and I bought Dragon, WD and a few other magazines regularly. Never had a problem getting stuff special ordered either
    1. bedir than's Avatar
      bedir than -
      Quote Originally Posted by R_Chance View Post
      Snail mail was pretty much it in 1987. WD was a print magazine. The only other possibility than the mail would be from conventions. No phone polls for this. So, self selection by mail in responses.

      *Edit* I remember reading this and similar polls in various magazines back in the day. I never participated. I would have been 28 / 29 at the time... my brother owned the local FLGS and I bought Dragon, WD and a few other magazines regularly. Never had a problem getting stuff special ordered either
      Which means the marginalized will be less likely to respond than their numbers should indicate
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      Quote Originally Posted by bedir than View Post
      Which means the marginalized will be less likely to respond than their numbers should indicate
      Pretty much. I only knew one female gamer at the time, but most of the people I played with were + / - 5 years of my age and I doubt any of us replied to this type of poll.
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      Quote Originally Posted by Von Ether View Post
      Who published the Ringworld RPG?
      Chaosium iirc. Not sure if its still available. I didn't play this one although I have a number of their other games (Runequest, Stormbringer / Elric, etc.).
    1. jmucchiello's Avatar
      jmucchiello -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jer View Post
      I think, given that it's the UK in the 80s, GH would likely be Golden Heroes - a superhero game published by Games Workshop in the 80s that AFAIK is pretty obscure outside of the UK (I only know of it because I love superhero games - I've never seen a copy myself.)
      I was wrong. Never heard of it.
    1. Andrea Rocci's Avatar
      Andrea Rocci -
      Quote Originally Posted by Von Ether View Post
      Who published the Ringworld RPG?

      Chaosium. It was based on their BRP system. Pretty cool game.
    1. Paul Farquhar's Avatar
      Paul Farquhar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jer View Post
      I think, given that it's the UK in the 80s, GH would likely be Golden Heroes - a superhero game published by Games Workshop in the 80s that AFAIK is pretty obscure outside of the UK (I only know of it because I love superhero games - I've never seen a copy myself.)
      I used to play Golden Heroes, I reckoned it was pretty good. It has convinced me that the idea that player characters need to be "balanced" is complete hogwash. A random number of randomly rolled superpowers, and the player had to come up with an origin story to explain them, and discard any they couldn't justify. You ended up with wildly different power levels of player characters, which was fine - compare Hawkeye with Captain Marvel in the MCU.

      It also used "frames" rather than rounds and actions to make it feel more like a comic.

      Of couse, White Dwarf was a Games Workshop mag, and it was a Games Workshop game, so there might be a selection effect.
    1. Zardnaar's Avatar
      Zardnaar -
      Mid 90s I had 3 female players for 2E circa 96.

      Had one female left after one of the players dated one and then the other and things kind went to crap.

      They tended to play elves.

      Most groups at the flgs are 1 DM 6 players. Usually 1or two female players per group. On female DM she basically has revolving short term games of ten sessions for new players. Think she is into her third group with new batch starting soon/now.

      Of the 3 I have talked to they are all playing Elves, 2 in my group the other is a Drow in a Planescape game. Elves the more things change, my wife likes half elves a lot as she likes skill based classes and charisma. Bard was her favorite class in 3.5 lol.
    1. JonnyP71's Avatar
      JonnyP71 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bedir than View Post
      Which means the marginalized will be less likely to respond than their numbers should indicate
      Marginalised?

      That seems overly dramatic.

      The girls I knew were simply disinterested in geeky games. This included computer games.
    1. Paul Farquhar's Avatar
      Paul Farquhar -
      Quote Originally Posted by JonnyP71 View Post
      Marginalised?

      That seems overly dramatic.

      The girls I knew were simply disinterested in geeky games. This included computer games.
      But if one did happen to show an interest in "boys games" they would be bullied unmercifully. Just because you didn't see it happen didn't make it not happen.
    1. JonnyP71's Avatar
      JonnyP71 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Farquhar View Post
      But if one did happen to show an interest in "boys games" they would be bullied unmercifully. Just because you didn't see it happen didn't make it not happen.
      That may well have been the case - but it wouldn't have been us boys who did that, it would have been their own social circle... girls were certainly more vocal when teasing us for playing the geeky games.

      I often see the males who played the games being blamed for the lack of female players. In the case of teenage groups, I can't help but feel that potential female gamers were discouraged more by their own peer groups. We were the misfits, it simply wasn't cool to be seen with us.
    1. Venley's Avatar
      Venley -
      I was in the UK, bought every White Dwarf till it became a magazine promoting solely Games Workshop games, was 27 at the time and had been playing for 8 years and did not reply to the poll. I remember being appalled at the gender percentages. While at university my experience had been 2 female players out of GM & 6 but since then about 15%, ie usually just me.

      Female, almost always played humans, GM'ed half the time we played. Was running WFRP, AD&D & Rolemaster and playing Rolemaster & Spacemaster at the time. Owned Runequest & Harnworld too but had not yet started running them.

      And frequently ignored (or harassed if I ventured in alone) in games shops until the owners realised I was the one making the purchasing decisions not my husband. Had stopped going to conventions due to harassment.
    1. Paul Farquhar's Avatar
      Paul Farquhar -
      Quote Originally Posted by JonnyP71 View Post
      That may well have been the case - but it wouldn't have been us boys who did that,
      No, it wouldn't. Its generally people of the same gender who use bullying to enforce gender stereotypes.
    1. Zardnaar's Avatar
      Zardnaar -
      I remember very few girls were into video games pre PlayStation. It was a male/geek thing.

      The odd exception in my experience was girls into PCs/Amiga in both cases it was due to Dad and no brothers. First time online was at her house and her dad gave me a beer just to see how I would handle it (age 17).

      I don't remember the guys excluding the girls deliberately just different social circles. They weren't very impressed when we set up Megadrives. Mate brought in one girl and she brought her friends.

      PlayStation started changing things, I suppose Crash Bandicoot was more appealing than Steetfighter II and Mortal Kombat.

      Arcades and takeaway joints with arcade games didn't have good reputations when I was a kid though. We got into D&D via old books and games like Eye of the Beholder and Warriors of the Eternal Sun.
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