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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.

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


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"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"

 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

JonnyP71

Explorer
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!
 

Hussar

Legend
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.
 

Jer

Explorer
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.)
 

R_Chance

Explorer
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 :)
 
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bedir than

Registered User
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
 

R_Chance

Explorer
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.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
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.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
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.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
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.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
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.
 

JonnyP71

Explorer
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.
 

Venley

Villager
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.
 

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