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I originally found this on the (now defunct) Women In Gaming website. I think it makes for excellent and informative reading for any man interested in cross-gender roleplay.

*Cyjqim's Manual (yes *man*-ual, it's for you males) to Playing Female Characters*

by Lesslie Gibson
© 1997 by Lesslie Gibson. Originally posted on the champs-L mailing list.

OK guys, I feel sorry for you, I'll break the unofficial code of silence and explain:

Rule One: This is the "two out of three ain’t bad" rule. If you are totally clueless how a real woman functions, (and trust me unless you grew up with at least four sisters and/or are married you're clueless) then play your character for, well, character. Concentrate on her nature as a human -pain, love, hate and taxes, are all pretty much universal. Focus on her career – a 'Senior Sanitation Engineer' faces much the same professional challenges whatever his/her/its gender. After you've mastered these elements of your character's life, if you foul up her nature as a woman at least you have a 2/3 valid person -which isn't anything to sniff at.

Rule two: Don't obsess on the female anatomy. A super powered woman would not say "keep leering at my breast that way and I'll clean your clock". She'd clean his clock, and explain why afterwards -if she felt like it (Admit it, girls - if we could we would.) We don't stand around discussing breasts, bras, or PMS unless we're in groups of four or more and we've been consuming perception-altering substances like Beer or Pizza.

Rule Three: Don't obsess on the Male characters either. I realize you may be playing with a bunch of self-designed and designated love gods, but trust me, your character won't think so. (Unless she's been mind-wiped and taken over by an invading alien).

Rule Four: If you're worried about authentic female character play then...Recruit, Recruit, Recruit!! Having an actual female around will do more to improve the quality of your female character's play than any book could. Move the frequency of your showers from seasonal to once a week, :), and start looking for female members to join your gaming group. Hang out in book stores and watch for women buying - oh say, Bradley, McCaffery, or (heaven help you) Cherryh. When you find one, strike up a conversation as a fellow reader (and you better be or she'll see through you in a nanosecond). When she figures out you're trying to invite her to gaming if she doesn’t start to walk away - you're golden. If she does walk, falling on your knees and begging will probably work at least once. It might even help if you tell her I sent you . . . there is a conspiracy, you know.

-Cyjqim

Comments

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morinon
Dec. 4th, 2004 07:08 am (UTC)
*smirk*
fireez
Dec. 4th, 2004 09:35 am (UTC)
*g* essay love! Especially the third part, now that's something gamer guys should really try... talking to an actual living, breathing female.
justric
Dec. 4th, 2004 01:52 pm (UTC)
What a great idea! I'll talk to my wife and see what she thinks of it!

*grins*
fireez
Dec. 4th, 2004 04:16 pm (UTC)
*rofl*

... ok, I should have added "them who need the advice given in the essay". Who, at least in my experience, are also those who don't have much of a clue about women outside the sphere of gaming.
justric
Dec. 4th, 2004 11:25 pm (UTC)
LOL - That's okay. You should have seen me before I met her!
meepeek
Dec. 4th, 2004 09:24 pm (UTC)
I hate to be the lone dissenter, but I find it rather condescending. I mean, I'm a woman, and I usually don't play women. Where's the treatise telling me how to play guys? Or am I just supposed to be better than men, and not need it when they do?

I've seen women portrayed fairly accurately by both straight and gay men, no bouncing boobies, no tight skirts and high kicks, etc. OTOH, I may just have been lucky in which guys I've gamed with, dunno.

*eyes second paragraph* Altho the description in the above might work if you were playing BESM. ;)
(Deleted comment)
meepeek
Dec. 4th, 2004 10:41 pm (UTC)
If you are totally clueless how a real woman functions, (and trust me unless you grew up with at least four sisters and/or are married you're clueless)

I believe it was the above that caused me to feel it was condescending. I would sincerely hope that no one would actually believe this. The above, to me, sounds very 'you're not bright enough to figure it out' toward any male who hasn't been married, or lived with "at least four sisters". I find that condescending. YMMV. :)

I knew one player online who was so good at it, no-one ~knew~ it was a guy playing the female character. There was also one that came across more like a drag queen than a real woman. But there was no focusing on things inappropriate to the RP. I'm pretty sure that if such a thing happened at a table top game I was in, I would burst out laughing at the stupidity. I mean.. what could possibly be going on that would require someone to talk about her PMS in an RP session? Nothing I can think of. It would be like a player/character of either gender suddenly talking about their bathroom habits or such. *shakes head*

Sorry to hear about the player. I hope it works out.
(Deleted comment)
meepeek
Dec. 5th, 2004 12:22 am (UTC)
Understandable. However, I just took it as an attempt of humour. *shrugs* And, said half-serious, half-in-jest, I've been married, and I still don't understand women. ;)

My dear man, I ~am~ a woman, and I still don't understand women. *snicker*


thegamemistress
Dec. 6th, 2004 07:42 pm (UTC)
I've seen women portrayed fairly accurately by both straight and gay men, no bouncing boobies, no tight skirts and high kicks, etc. OTOH, I may just have been lucky in which guys I've gamed with, dunno.
I think you *have* been lucky. :-) In a good number of the games I've been in, I've seen female characters played by men in ways that made me want to either toss my cookies or burst into hysterical laughter. Some of the more memorable examples included the Setite who went around in leather dominatrix garb 24/7 (complete with 5" heels) and assured everyone she was looking for some ass to kick; the female Corax with the huge guns; the macho troll schoolteacher who tried to intimidate everyone else in the game, and the big-breasted lesbian Amazon who makes men salivate and other women jealous.

OTOH, I have seen women play men as overly-sensitive, weepy, emotional "chick-with-a-dick" types....
meepeek
Dec. 7th, 2004 11:18 pm (UTC)
I think you *have* been lucky. :-) In a good number of the games I've been in, I've seen female characters played by men in ways that made me want to either toss my cookies or burst into hysterical laughter.

Were any of them, male or female, able to rp as their own sex? I can only think of one time I've seen something like this, and he was just as lame as a guy, so I didn't think of it as 'he can't play women', I thought of it as 'he really sucks as a roleplayer' :)

I was pretty much basing my opinion on online games, to be honest. Perhaps when you see your idiocy in text, it makes it difficult ~not~ to see what an ass you're making out of yourself..?
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sarahgilly
thegamemistress
The Geek Queen
This LJ chronicles my experiences in geekdom. Feel free to read, but beware of falling dice!

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