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Naryt
06-07-2007, 04:26 PM
In the What are you playing? (http://www.cartographersguild.com/viewtopic.php?t=249) thread, I posted that I occasionally run Faery's Tale for my kids to which RPMiller said:


Faery's Tale!!! What do you think of it? Any feedback?

It has good entertainment value and my kids love it! I like the ability it has to run a fast paced game (key for young children with shorter attention spans). We play using the diceless option (we use black and white stones pulled from a bag for determining success) as noted on P34.


Do you have any play session write-ups?

No write-ups. They have managed to save Jack from the Giant though. I made heavy use of RPG-SoundMixer (http://www.rpgsoundmixer.com/) to help create atmosphere for that tale. The Giant snored loudly; birds chirped, frogs croaked, and bees buzzed as the faeries walked/flew through the forest; and Jack's village was full of farm and people noises.

The next tale saw them rescuing twins from two goblins and a swamp troll. The two Sprites sacrificed themselves distracting the troll while the children and two other faeries (pixie and brownie) escaped on a pooka turned horse (I play the pooka, a sidekick to the pixie). The children were cowering in their home (a little hut) in the corner, under a table with their parents equally terrified and they could all hear the troll finally coming up the way. The pixie was down to 1 Essence and the brownie had no idea what to do (she's 4 after all ;) ). The pixie, in a grand epiphany, turned to the pooka and asked, "Can you be a big scary bear?" The bear barely managed to best the troll and send it packing (down to 1 Essence for the pooka). The sprites revived and reached the hut just in time to learn that Jule, the brownie, had revealed herself to the family and so would have to find a new home. The other faeries are now trying to figure out how to find Leanan to ask her to allow Jule to remain with her human family.

The next little jaunt will see them at the Tournament of the Fey where they'll meet Princess Joy of Merry Brook. If all goes well, the faeries will end that jaunt as Knights of Merry Brook, with a promise from Princess Joy to intercede with Queen Leanan for Jule and with a hint that "something dark" lurks in the heart of Brightwood.


Do you play using the Dark Essence at all? How do your kids do with that aspect?

Yes we use it and three of them are horrified that their precious pixie (sprite or brownie) might become a dark faery and so avoid even talking about {breathy whisper}Dark Essence{/breathy whisper}. The fourth, however, is lovingly known as Gozer, has a penchant for the dark (Darth Vader was his hero for a year or so) and is fascinated by what Dark Essence might do to his sprite, Cort. So far, they've all managed to avoid gaining any Dark Essence.


Do they have a favorite type of faery? Would you have any interest in adventures, settings, or *ahem* maps for it? Do you have any questions about it?

The boys both like sprites (but not pookas), one girl likes pixies and the other brownies. Personally, I like pookas.

I would LOVE more adventures, settings and (oh yeah!) maps for it! I am actually in the process of making a map for Brightwood as I'm going to need details on where Merry Brook is or where Jack's villiage was or what lies around the "Heart of Darkness" in the center of Brightwood that is slowly becoming corrupted.

RPMiller
06-07-2007, 05:46 PM
That is really great feedback thank you very much!

pyrandon
06-07-2007, 06:36 PM
I enjoyed reading that, too, Naryt. My kids, unfortunately lost interest in the game--well, mainly my son (age 5) who could never get excited about playing a miniature faery; I think, unfortunately and despite its nice, simple mechanic, this game is a tad girl-centered. Perhaps a stereotypical thing to say, I know, but in my one case it was true. I found myself trying to go the Peter Pan-ish sprite route for him, introducing creatures and "higher" adventure, allowing my son to be as macho a sprite warrior as a miniature figure can be (even allowing him to be an otter, one of his favorite animals), etc.

I have toyed with the idea of modifying the game to be less "fey" and more fantasy, but I think I will create my own game instead. I'm not sure why you're asking about it, RP, or if you're thinking about freelancing on that game, but I think a niche the game may be able to expand into is leaning toward more "boy-centered" adventures. A tough sell, I think, but worth the time.

RPMiller
06-07-2007, 10:03 PM
Thank you for the feedback as well Don. Pat Sweeney and I are friends. I've worked on several of Firefly's projects either play-testing or even co-authoring. That's all I'll say about that. ;)

We played sessions of FT with my kids (boy 11, girl 12) and several adults and had a great time. My son enjoyed it, but he is already a roleplayer so that might have something to do with it. Pat ran the game, and it didn't really have a 'girlish' slant, but there was a fair amount of action going on as well.

Naryt
06-08-2007, 01:12 PM
The book is exceptionally girl centric so my first concern was "How do I run this with boys too?" [Ahem] I was ranting so I'll just say that the perception that girls are good, magical and beautiful and that boys are non-magical or homely or evil that comes from the book was really off putting at first. Otherwise, I love the whole thing. If I were to suggest a way to mitigate that perception, it would be to give equal time to boy pixies and brownies as well as girl sprites and pookas. Also, making one or two of the goblins or dark faeries as girls would also help. It just needs a bit more balance...oops, ranting again.

Thinking about where the story will go from here, I'm leaning toward exploring the impact of Dark Essence more. It seems Boan, Lord of Gloaming Glen, needs help as someone has blocked the Gloaming stream and his beautiful glen is withering away. The Princess Joy gives the quest to the newly made Knights of Merry Brook. Unbeknownst to the knights and Princess Joy, Boan is already tainted by Dark Essence and by the third day, visible signs of change will creep into Boan's appearance. Will the knights be able to save Gloaming Glen? Will they be able to help the once noble pixie lord, Boan, to purge himself of the Darkness growing in his heart?

RPMiller
06-08-2007, 03:44 PM
Regarding the gender bias, that is an interesting perspective and one that should definitely be fixed. I hadn't noticed any sort of gender bias personally, but then I would be looking at it differently. It is feedback like this that really helps make a game better so I appreciate it as will Pat.

Could you tell me more about where the perception of gender bias comes from? Is it the character stories, or examples, or something else?

Regarding where you are going to be taking the story, it sounds like a lot of fun. I hope you'll share more of it with us.

pyrandon
06-08-2007, 03:55 PM
Well, RP, I am definitely not slamming the game, that's for sure. :) Tell Pat I like it; I bought it "cold" & never regretted the purchase.

It's just that I think the very notion of miniature faeries is the "culprit"; this is built into the milieu, the concept itself. My boy somehow, by nature, is very "boy"--sports, wrestling, etc. are his thing (& it's odd, because neither my wife nor I are Joe America six-pack NASCAR construction worker types [although I have close friends who are] who fostered this; it's just him, just the natural make up of male vs. female.) My son would love "D&D" type fantasy, & I may go that route someday, but since he's only 6 I wanted to hold off on that for awhile yet.

Anyway, the mechanic behind Faery's Tale is so age-appropriate, clever, & clear that I'd like to see it reworked. If you have seen the "Zorcerer of Zo", this sort of literary fairy tale setting is much closer to non-gender specific, I think, & would be a great for Sweeney's game mechanic.

(& as a side note, it really cheesed me off when I tripped across that "Zo" game, because I was about 10 pages "in process" of creating a world exactly like that, thinking that for once I had come up with an original rpg idea!! I hate being beaten to the punch--and every single time, too! It's just like the time in the 70s I had the idea for computers to talk to one another over phone lines...)

RPMiller
06-08-2007, 05:07 PM
Oh, I didn't think you were slamming it at all so no worries.

I'm just really curious about where the gender bias is since that never once came up in our play-tests or personal games. I'm wondering if perhaps it is the adults that are creating it more then the kids thinking there is one. ;) Of course, another interesting approach would be to not show the book or talk about its name to a child. Just mention generically things like "you get to play a wielder of magic who can ride steeds and joust and fight monsters". If you never say the word faery until you are well into the adventure I wonder if most kids would ever notice? Anyway, as I said I'm really curious about this observation and I have invited Pat to come take a look at what is being said. Perhaps he'll make a guest appearance. :)

pyrandon
06-08-2007, 10:54 PM
I know this is kind of off-topic for our forums, but it's a nice conversation; if Pat decides to show as well, that would be great, too. As I said, it's a good game.

I am surprised the gender bias never crossed your minds--and even more surprised it never appeared in playtesting. In fact, when I first "found" the game I was convinced the design concept was to manufacture a young girl-friendly rpg. You may be right, RP, that I created a bias in my trying to compensate for that with my son, who as I said, is very "boy." I'm not sure. I should say he did not dislike the game, for he chose to play a (guess what..?) warrior sprite, so I had him confront a troll, use his feats of power as much as possible (which equals tons of dice rolling!), etc. But it was (in his words) "not Lord of the Rings". Maybe I'm just a crappy GM. :(

RPMiller
06-09-2007, 12:36 AM
Well we are in the General Discussion topic and as I mentioned a while back you need to have a free for all conversation area to make the forums feel more homey and show people that they can hang out and just chat. :D

I got an email back from Pat and his schedule is very busy, but he has read through the posts and will try to visit.

No, I highly doubt that you are a bad GM. You are far too creative. I think the trick is to make the setting more Tolkien like if that is what he wants.

Naryt
06-11-2007, 12:53 PM
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a qualified person, although I do play one at work.

The first nine pages do fairly well keeping the setting very gender neutral. We do see good Queen Leanan and evil King Slaugh and all the art shows somewhat gender ambiguous male and female faeries. The pixie description even does well right up to where "Late each night, a pixie curls up inside a friendly flower to sleep. The petals close around the pixie, protecting her while she dreams, and open to greet the sun at dawn." I definitely can't read that as is to my boys and have any hope of them playing pixies. "Late each night, pixies curl up inside friendly flowers to sleep. Across Brightwood, petals close around the sleeping pixies, protecting them while they dream, and open to greet the sun at dawn." None of the flavor is lost and yet I now have a chance to get my boys to be pixies without having to reword what is written. Also, the only art for a pixie is a classic "Tinker Bell" style pixie.

Page 11 "Faery Lore: Pixie Led" has the pixies misleading a female traveler. Also, the description on Brownies suffers the same issue as pixies: "Brownies are sensitive folk, and a brownie who feels put upon by her adopted family usually turns to pranks to even the score; stacks of dirty pots mysteriously fall over, clean clothes are found spattered with mud, bowls of porridge are upset, and so forth until the brownie feels satisfied." It's easy enough to just write "and brownies who feel put upon by their adopted family usually turn to pranks . . . and so forth until they feel satisfied." Again, the only brownie art is a pointy eared little woman.

On page 12, we again have a Faery Lore box, this time Cold Iron "instantly drains a faery’s magical life force, causing her to fall into a deep healing sleep" instead of "instantly drains the magical life force from faeries, causing them to fall into a deep healing sleep." Another female human falls victim to faery magic via Faery Rings.

The sprite description has "Dancing gracefully through combat, a sprite parries and strikes in perfect time to a joyful song of battle only she can hear . . . ." It could just as easily been "Dancing gracefully through combat, sprites parry and strike in perfect time to a joyful song of battle only they can hear . . . ." Despite this, we do get the idea that sprites can be male from the art on page 13.

The pooka description on 13 states, "She gains the abilities of the chosen animal . . . ." Again, why not use "They gain" to keep thing gender neutral? The pooka is also described as giving human travelers wild rides before "dumping her [the hapless human] into a distant pond or lake." As with the art for the pooka is likely male,it is somewhat ambiguous but if that's a womans face...eww! :)

I could go one with each page but will, instead, summarize: Not once, excepting in the story and narrations, is a feary described as male and yet throughout we have descriptions of female faeries. Other than the two male faeries in the narration, we have the Goblin King and the visible villains of the narration, the troll and goblins. The art is better at portraying male faeries but by the time we see those images, faeries being female is already fairly well entrenched but even the art is slanted. There are 18 pieces of art (two are repeated). Three (one repeated) show a male faery only (assuming the pooka is male). Four more show definitely male and female faeries with one male goblin thrown into the mix. One is ambiguous enough to pass either way but leans more toward the feminine side. The other nine show only female fey with one hag thrown into the mix. The art falls, roughly, with seven for the males (with one evil goblin in there) and thirteen for the females (with one evil hag in there), better but still nearly two to one.

The good vs evil, female vs male issue is not nearly as stark but with the above slant in place, it seems more evident. King Slaugh is evil, the evil troll and goblins in the story are all male. True, page 14 says of faeries who become goblins, "She loses her former form and gifts, taking on the hideous shape and awful powers of a goblin." Again, though, this only increases the faeries are girls feel from above. Hags are also inherently female so that does help balance this some but the ultimate incarnation of evil is the Goblin King and the ultimate incarnation of good is the Faery Queenx2, Leanan and Selene.

Why do I feel that any perceived gender bias is a big issue in this? Because, as Don noted, faeries are most often seen as being either female or feminine. Tinker Bell, Winx Club, fairy godmothers, fairy princess and the list continues. Do an image search on fairy or faery, how far do you have to dig to find a masculine fairy? OK, how much further do you have to look to find a masculine fairy that isn't simply a girl fairy without the curvy bits?

Intentionally, maybe, or unintentionally, more likely, the manual follows the feminine fairy motif and adds a very mild dose of women-good man-evil into the mix. Balance out the feminine fairy motif and the good/evil dichotomy will disappear completely into the background. Keep the genders neutral and you'll have masculine pixies and feminine pookas and everything in between.

Having written all that, I do love the setting and the rules. I could go on at length about that as well but I figure that you've heard enough from me today!

Naryt
06-11-2007, 01:02 PM
Maybe I'm just a crappy GM.

Garm rend me limb from limb if you're a Crappy GM! You know better than most that not every story will appeal to every reader and the same is true of game settings and just about every other thing.

Any GM that allows a true n00b player's character to die AND still manages to make the player excited about the scene, the game and the new character he'll be playing certainly cannot be labeled as crappy.

RPMiller
06-11-2007, 01:58 PM
Thank you very much for that thorough review on the gender issue.

I think I've discovered why I didn't see the gender bias as well.

It has been common place these days, both from WOTC and from White Wolf to use the female gender as often, or in some cases more often, than the male gender. This is some sort of 'neutral gender political correctness' that they seem to have embraced and I'm not positive why. Some have said it is to make it more appealing to females. I think it is something else. Anyway, now when I read "her", I give it the same level of gender neutrality as I gave "him". That said, I can very much see where the bias is coming from especially when you take kids' reading comprehension into account, and this is something that I definitely see as an issue that Pat should address to open the game up to all genders.

Thank you again for your post, and hopefully Pat will grace us with his presence soon. :)

pyrandon
06-11-2007, 02:23 PM
Wow--Tyran, that was an amazing analysis. I was just going by "gut feel" & experience with my son vs. the bias of the text itself, but now that I read your & peruse through my book I think you're right. Also, your point that "faerie" in the modern culture implies "female" is also well taken; it would take more power than rpg games can muster to change this (I actually remember reading some text either by or about Tolkien, who was able to do just that for elves; hard top believe that before he came along elves were much like faeries!)

RP, you bring up a good point about the growing use of "her" as the neutral pronoun in writing today. This is an issue that is becoming universal, & that I have (as an English teacher) read a bit about. I think your political correctness explanation--repugnant as I find it--carries much weight, although it's tough to blame Sweeney, you, me, or any other modern writer for following the powerful trend. But perhaps that's a topic for another thread :)

Interesting stuff. Good discussion!

PS: Thanks too, Tyran, for the GMing compliment. Sometimes I wonder, so it's nice to hear. :)

Naryt
06-11-2007, 04:41 PM
[Roll vs your obsession with mocking all things PC]

Naryt: Mock PC Obsession (12 or less) [3d6.skill(12,0)] => [2,2,6] = 10 vs (12) or less Success! by 2

Phew!

Anyway, most welcome for the analysis. Bah, I just have to say something. Unless one has an extremely high opinion of politicians, why would one want to be like them and be [b]politically correct?

As to the GM comment, you well deserve it Don!

Firefly Games
06-18-2007, 07:39 PM
Hi folks,
Thanks to Rob for cluing me in on the conversation - it's very interesting to see how others view Faery's Tale. Thanks for your interest in the game, and I hope you're enjoying it. :)

I don't think Faery's Tale is biased against boys so much as it tries to avoid conventional gaming assumptions that only boys wiill be playing. I recognized going into the project that, at least for younger players, faeries are going to appeal more to girls than boys. So, first I tried to be sure to include things that might appeal to boys, such as sprites, who are faery warriors, and pookas, who can change form into animals, along with pixies & brownies. (Though I have had girls play pookas & sprites, & boys play brownies & pixies, so I tried not to make too many assumptions). I also decided to treat the inherent appeal of faeries to girls as a feature rather than a problem, & went an extra step to make the writing more friendly to girls by using the non-standard female pronoun for generic references. (References to specific male or female characters use the appropriate pronouns, of course). This choice also seemed to fit the tone of the game, and helped it stand out from the pack of other rpgs a little more.

I don't think it's the case that Faery's Tale portrays all males as ugly & bad, and all females as beautiful & good. Two of the four iconic faery heroes, Flynn & Gimlock, are male. Some of the antagonists directly encountered by the heroes in the adventures & story are male, but in several cases the adventures are set in motion by a hag - in the story, a hag is behind the kidnapping of the little girl, and in The Mute Minstrel, a minstrel has been cursed by a hag. In several cases, the faeries can find positive male allies, such as Jack in Jack & the Beanstalk, and Barnabas the Bear in The Mute Minstrel.

It's true that we haven't yet had a direct foe who's a female so far, other than the queen's ghost in The Haunted Castle, & both she & the king are more reluctant adversaries, but we've only published three adventures so far. :) Some of the adventures we'll be publishing to support Faery's Tale Deluxe will have female adversaries as well as male ones.

Anyway, I hope that provides some insight into our thinking on some of the gender issues in Faery's Tale.

pyrandon
06-18-2007, 11:59 PM
Thank you very much for your reasonable, well-written response, Patrick.

I must admit your rebuttal does not (for me) shed new light on the game's gender question, for I think most intuitive readers can see what you were trying to do with the game. For example, the description of sprites is obviously intended to offset the "fey"/feminine structure. Even the pronoun issue was obviously deliberate.

I do wonder if you found Naryt's specific comments (or my son's reaction to play) at all surprising? Revealing? Interesting? While I agree your intent was not an "anti-boy" biased game, from a few of your comments above I'm guessing you realized in design that it would basically become a "girl-centric" game; do you find that a weakness or a strength?

The true worth in the game (and yes, my daughter & I do enjoy it, thank you for asking :) ) is 1) in the ability to play with younger children, and 2) the clever dice pool/essence mechanic. These elements fit together so well, are so entertaining/suspenseful in play, and they allow a conscientious parent to do so much... It's not often a game creation this clever works so well. Do you plan to expand from "the fey" into other arenas using the game engine? I am creating an alternative world for the game to work with both my kids, but I would be very happy if Firefly Games gave me more material too...

Thanks again for responding, Patrick. Good discussion.

sandy
06-19-2007, 06:53 PM
Hi,

A co-author of Faery Tale here. I'm not the definitive word, but I recall we did aim to make the book gender-neutral, rather than assuming it a boys or girls game.

In the toy industry, boys will only buy boys toys, while girls will buy girl toys or boy toys. Therefore, toys tend to brand towards boys (feature 'he', boys on the packaging, etc) unless they are specifically aimed at girls. As a result, toys that show girls are assumed to be aimed 'at girls only'.

RPGs tend to follow this habit, so to some degree the bias of Faery Tale is "by not aiming specifically at boys, we will likely be called a girls game".

Cheers,
Sandy
sandy@rpg.net
freelance

RPMiller
06-19-2007, 08:08 PM
So is the goal then to only market to girls and hope for a scattering of boys here and there?

Based on the above post, it would seem logical that more sales would be obtained by marketing to boys and then picking up the fringe of girls.

I'm just curious.

Firefly Games
06-19-2007, 09:21 PM
I do wonder if you found Naryt's specific comments (or my son's reaction to play) at all surprising? Revealing? Interesting? While I agree your intent was not an "anti-boy" biased game, from a few of your comments above I'm guessing you realized in design that it would basically become a "girl-centric" game; do you find that a weakness or a strength?

It's not so much a girls-only thing as a slightly higher hurdle for younger boys - you really have to push the sprites & pookas & fighting angles to get over the "But Tinkerbell faery stuff is for girls" reaction from 6-9 years old or so. :)

It's not surprising - I knew in writing the game that was going to be one of the challenges. It's always interesting to see different reactions & interpretations of the game, though.


Do you plan to expand from "the fey" into other arenas using the game engine? I am creating an alternative world for the game to work with both my kids, but I would be very happy if Firefly Games gave me more material too....

For Faery's Tale, we are planning new books on Norse-Scandinavian faery lore - dwarves, gnomes, etc. - and on the Fey Court - elves & sidhe. I'm also working on adapting the rules to a pirate game. None of these are on a production schedule yet, but I'd expect to see 1-2 next year.

And thanks for the welcome! It's a very interesting topic for me, so I enjoy the chance to talk about it.

sandy
06-20-2007, 08:55 AM
Hi,

> So is the goal then to only market to girls and hope for a scattering of boys here and there?

Well, I can't talk about the marketing, only the creation. But saying "we are not specifically focusing on boys" is different from "we are only marketing to girls". That's the very fallacy we're being faced with-- the perception that not aggressively marketing it as a boy's game means it's a girl's game. It's not our intent, but people may mistake it as one.

What it is, is a game children can play. Ascribing it as aimed at a specific gender is a reflection of the bias of the individual reader, based on their perception of the product and/or genre.

We did not intentionally create a gender-biased game, but by not deliberately stamping it as 'a boy game' or 'a girl game', each reader will probably assign it to their own category according to their own gender perception.

At the risk of being tangential, it's a bit like how people react to my name, Sandy. Sight unseen, they often ascribe a gender to me and then intepret my correspondance in that light, and occasionally are surprised when we meet face to face. Hazards of a gender-neutral name are the same as hazards of a gender-neutral game. In the absence of a clear gender stamp, the reader usually will presume a gender (then interpret accordingly).

In retrospect, Patrick probably should have released two editions of the same book, one with a blue-tinged cover and goblin artwork called 'Faery Tale', and the other with a pinker cover and all-pixie artwork, called 'Fairy Tale'. Then release a later 'Deluxe Combined Edition' that is, in essence, the original book :)

Cheers,
Sandy
sandy@rpg.net
freelance

sandy
06-20-2007, 11:56 AM
Hi again,

As an aside on the issue of intended gender perception in FT, I'm curious if people on this site are more likely to pick up on gender issues in books like FT (relative to general readers).

Cartography is about using effective symbology. Since FT doesn't have a deliberate gender focus, then the reader will derive one from the symbology-- text choice and graphics choice. So a symbologist (I suggest) has more skills to bring to bear in trying to determine if there is an underlying gender bias.

Just musing. I'm enjoying this thread and hope I'm not being too noisy with it (plus I found out about rpg soundmixer from here!)

Cheers,
Sandy
sandy@rpg.net
freelance

pyrandon
06-20-2007, 12:29 PM
Interesting, Sandy. Thanks for the comments. What I think we're coming to here is the heart of the debate: as you call it, "gender perception."

On this issue I'm guessing you and I would perhaps disagree with the nature of gender. You claim that gender in the game is rather neutral, that the biased individual perceives and creates their own meaning for gender. You believe the game is gender neutral (much as your name--good example!), that readers look at its features, assume it's a girl's game due to their own perception of what "girlishness" is, and then react accordingly. In other words, there is nothing outside the viewer's worldview in the game that is inherently girlish. You are, by the way, in good company thinking this, for it's what the dominant postmodern culture by-and-large assumes to be true.

I, on the other hand, think there are rather solid features that are hard-wired into boys and girls. (And these are wonderful features of our gender make-ups, beautiful in their distinctions.) Faery's Tale displays "girl features" in abundance. And it's not just the pink or blue colored cover; Naryt's list is a clear starting point, but also just the idea of minuscule faeries (even if warrior sprites) in general. There is a reason the fey have been associated with girls for centuries. By the biological and spiritual nature of boys and girls, your game is in the female realm more than the male; this is deeper than personal response, cultural milieu, or other neutral forces.

Of course a boy could (and should!!) enjoy Faery's Tale as well, but it's a much harder sell. It's like marketing Barbies to little boys: boys could have fun with the doll, but "action figures" are a much easier sell.

So, I think you are making light of the fact that there are real differences in the attitudes, thinking, and hearts of boys and girls. Sure these differences are not static and as solid as stone, and some boys like girl things and visa versa, but these are exceptions. Brightwood falls farther into on the feminine spectrum than the male, and while a parent/GM could tip the scales to even them back out, this would not happen on its own. (My own son is a good example.) The consumer of your product's "bias" is not as much an issue as the nature of the product content itself, and the fact that the designers/publishers did not label it as a boy or girl game is rather irrelevant. (Go ahead and put a sticker saying "Now for boys, too!" onto a Barbie...)

Through all this, I want to reiterate that 1) Faery's Tale IS a great game, and 2) I'm glad we are having this discussion! Very thought-provoking. :)

Take care

RPMiller
06-20-2007, 12:39 PM
Hi again,

As an aside on the issue of intended gender perception in FT, I'm curious if people on this site are more likely to pick up on gender issues in books like FT (relative to general readers).

Cartography is about using effective symbology. Since FT doesn't have a deliberate gender focus, then the reader will derive one from the symbology-- text choice and graphics choice. So a symbologist (I suggest) has more skills to bring to bear in trying to determine if there is an underlying gender bias.

Just musing. I'm enjoying this thread and hope I'm not being too noisy with it (plus I found out about rpg soundmixer from here!)

Cheers,
Sandy
sandy@rpg.net
freelanceI wouldn't say that it is the members of this forum specific. There are other examples from other people that found it to be female biased. I think gamers in general tend to be smarter per capita then the general populace do to the amount of both imagination and cognitive reasoning that has to be done when roleplaying. There are many very intelligent people in the RPG community and I have been somewhat surprised over the years to find just how intelligent the community is as a whole.

With that intellect comes perception. As Sherlock Holmes said, "A great detective relies on perception, intelligence, and imagination. " Combine this with what I've learned from the business classes I've taken and I have come to realize that when marketing to gamers one has to be very careful and observant with what is being presented. I've read many a gamer's blog or forum post where they are berating some game publisher for the lack of giving gamers what they want or trying to pull the wool over they eyes.

With regard to FT, there is definitely a perceptive bias toward girls whether intended or not. I didn't realize it personally since I had the "inside" information on it all along and did some of the early play testing without the published book, but after the really well written analysis above from Naryt it really opened my eyes to the perception that people will have of the book and more importantly the perception of the children who would be the target market as they are going to be far more sensitive to the gender issue than many adult gamers who play the opposite sex with very little hesitation.

In retrospect, Patrick probably should have released two editions of the same book, one with a blue-tinged cover and goblin artwork called 'Faery Tale', and the other with a pinker cover and all-pixie artwork, called 'Fairy Tale'. Then release a later 'Deluxe Combined Edition' that is, in essence, the original book :)
I think this is a really great idea!! :idea: I'm betting that this would have made some difference in the overall perception of gamers.

RPMiller
06-20-2007, 12:45 PM
>Snip<
Excellent post as always! Those are some great points, and I agree wholeheartedly with your last points. I think that is why we are having this discussion in fact. If we didn't think the game was great we wouldn't care if it succeeded or not, and the fact that we care enough to discuss it shows that we very much want to see it be as successful as it can be. :)

sandy
06-20-2007, 05:11 PM
Hello,

I wouldn't go as far as saying gender is purely relative to each reader. Rather than the post-modern "the interpretation is the thing", I think there may be an excess of 'girly' aspects in FT in three ways:

* visual elements that were not intended to be gendered, but as a whole create the view that it's a girly game. Many people here seem to suggest this, and I think cartographers would be more skilled at judging this than writers, This was an eye-opener to me.

* cultural cues that different people interpret differently (the 'are faeries intrisically girly or not' bit), Which could be an interesting thing to tackle in future works, as Patrick suggests.

* the commercial tendency in the toy industry to aggressively gender-market items, leading to a customer expectation that toys are gendered or not, which is hard to address if one wants to make a both-gender or gender-neutral product.

* different conceptions of what is boy or girl and whether it is hard wired or cultural, which is a debate that probably will never be answered.

Hmm... there I go again, more than three items. Anyway, the first two are, I think, fairly concrete, well substantiated by the comments in this forum, and something FT does need to address. Hopefully Patrick will not address it by firing me as co-writer :)

Cheers,
Sandy
sandy@rpg.net
freelance

pyrandon
06-20-2007, 06:06 PM
...Hopefully Patrick will not address it by firing me as co-writer :)

I hope not too! :)

Great response, Sandy.

RPMiller
06-20-2007, 10:09 PM
My personal experience with my kids, one boy, one girl, is that there is some hard wiring of gender. My wife and I made a conscious effort to not treat either of them as a specific gender and allow them to play with whatever toys they wanted.

With only a few exceptions when they were with a sitter or relative we adhered to this rule and I have to say that before my son or daughter were old enough to appreciate marketing they were both very much a boy and a girl.

We actually found that very enlightening. Of course this wasn't a completely scientific study, but it seemed fairly conclusive to me.

Thankfully both of my kids are open minded enough and imaginative enough to try different kinds of RPG settings, and tackled FT with gusto. In fact, I think my son actually enjoyed the game more than my daughter. I think he even gave Pat a run for his money. ;)

pyrandon
06-20-2007, 11:22 PM
My personal experience with my kids, one boy, one girl, is that there is some hard wiring of gender. My wife and I made a conscious effort to not treat either of them as a specific gender and allow them to play with whatever toys they wanted.

With only a few exceptions when they were with a sitter or relative we adhered to this rule and I have to say that before my son or daughter were old enough to appreciate marketing they were both very much a boy and a girl.

We actually found that very enlightening. Of course this wasn't a completely scientific study, but it seemed fairly conclusive to me.

That is my exact same experience, too, Rob. :)

RobA
06-21-2007, 10:14 AM
My personal experience with my kids, one boy, one girl, is that there is some hard wiring of gender. My wife and I made a conscious effort to not treat either of them as a specific gender and allow them to play with whatever toys they wanted.

With only a few exceptions when they were with a sitter or relative we adhered to this rule and I have to say that before my son or daughter were old enough to appreciate marketing they were both very much a boy and a girl.

We actually found that very enlightening. Of course this wasn't a completely scientific study, but it seemed fairly conclusive to me.

That is my exact same experience, too, Rob. :)

Ditto. I have B/G twins and even though we always tried to treat them the same and provided the same toys/books/games, etc, they manifested what would be called stereotypical gender preferences.

-Rob A>

pyrandon
06-21-2007, 11:27 AM
Ditto. I have B/G twins and even though we always tried to treat them the same and provided the same toys/books/games, etc, they manifested what would be called stereotypical gender preferences.

This and the other testimonials above (plus those of the 99% of B/G parents I know) proves that differences between boys & girls are "hardwired." While the scientific community dissects and argues and publishes, and while the psychological/sociological community sets up canned study after study, and while social philosophers & radicals soapbox and lobby over what they want to be the case, in billions of cases all over the world, the truth is quietly manifested in home after home, despite them all. Not to downplay the search for solid facts, but when the search for facts blots the truth...

Okay, done pontificating now. :) Carry on, people!

RPMiller
06-21-2007, 11:55 AM
:D

Ok, back to the subject at hand. I think we all agree that FT is a most excellent game, and there really is nothing wrong with the game, it's mechanics or its setting. The only problem we can see is its slant toward girl gender bias. I have to say that if that is all we can find wrong with it, it deserves a place at or near the top of most RPGs.

I think it is too late for any "re-marketing" so future versions should take steps to definitely remove the only "problem" with the book. Obviously Sandy and Pat are now aware of the "problem" and are both intelligent enough to come up with a brilliant solution so I think it is now time to focus on something different. Something that we truly excel at. I think we should make a map of Brightwood. What do you all think?

Naryt
06-25-2007, 12:58 PM
OK...been away a week with my oldest boy (12 yrs) at Scout Camp. I've quickly read through the posts made while I was away and am now suffering from a bit of shell shock at finding Patrick and Sandy have both posted here. {Waves wildly for a moment.}

I just wanted to make a couple of quick comments:

First and foremost, I hope no one took any of my previous comments as being disparaging of FT.

As the father of four ( boy - 12, girl - 9, boy - 8, girl - 4), I agree with the "boys are boys and girls are girls" philosophy.

As to the main topic at hand, my personal interpretation of the "gender issue" in FT was mainly that it was likely an attempt to be gender neutral that became unbalanced. I based that on the even split between pixies/brownies and sprites/pookas in the rules and narration. Such a split clearly had to be intentional meaning the intent was gender neutrality but the rest of the text over-corrected and left the text seeming to be gender biased.

On the artwork, it's devilishly hard to find masculine faery artwork so even commissioned artwork would have to, quite literally, define the masculine faery world.

I'm a programmer by trade and often run up against the situation where my users interpret the "obvious" completely differently than I do; much the way that we, the readers/players of FT, have interpreted the mood of FT differently than you, the writers, may have intended. It's a difficult thing to step back from my finely crafted software and say not that I was wrong but that I did not fully anticipate or understand the expectation/need of the users.

The point being, FT is a great set of rules (as mentioned, the rule set is fabulous) but the gender neutrality is off center a bit as written.