“I’m not sure that this is going to be your kind of game”. It is a statement that I frequently run into at game stores and conventions. To be perfectly honest, I completely understand why. I am a young woman, who frequently goes to stores in my work attire. Not exactly the picture of a heavily competitive player. There are many times that this is said when I am looking at someone playing a heavily combat based game, or a complex time consuming game.
This is not to say that the board gaming community has not been welcome to me as a woman. In fact, the community has been more than welcoming, and I do feel comfortable being a young woman spending a lot of time by myself in game stores and sitting down with random people to play. However, sometimes predisposed opinions can put a person in a position that they don’t feel welcome to learn more about that game.
At first glance it would be impossible for someone to know I grew up with two brothers, played video games into the early hours the morning, and nerf battles were a daily occurrence. However, those things make it so that I am highly competitive and frequently do enjoy more direct combative player interaction.
I have also seen this happen to men as well at game nights. Some of the more vagarious men were told that they probably wouldn’t like whatever euro game we were playing that night, despite it being their first time attending the game night.
The same thing goes for children. I know I am guilty of sometimes groaning internally when a child sits down at the table to play or comes over to ask questions. Most of the time I feel like young children may be too distracted to play, or if they’re asking questions they ask too many and it makes it difficult to focus. That being said, I have seen seven year olds focus more readily on Scythe than some adults.
It is human nature to make assumptions based on what people look like, but it is also important to consider that there may be more to them than meets the eye. Instead of saying I don’t think you’ll like this game, take a moment to see what games they do like. It doesn’t make an immediate assumption, and won’t put that person in an awkward situation if they do want to learn more. That conversation could mean bringing someone new into the community or helping someone make that decision for themselves.