Here at the Malted Meeple, one of the key things we provide our guests is a friendly and open environment. This can be challenging when a game like Dungeons & Dragons has a mythos behind it of the group of nerdy guys sitting around a table with their pocket protectors and Doritos. These games can easily seem, much like poker night, to be a time when the girlfriends or wives aren’t welcomed.
For myself I can say that during college I had tried to delve a little deeper into this mysterious world of tabletop RPGs. I found it mostly confusing, and found that my boyfriend’s players tolerated my presence at the table at best. It took my now husband quite a long time before he could convince me to give these games another chance. I am really glad that I did, as these games have now lead to having a really amazing group of friends!
The Malted Meeple has played a large part in my own journey delving deeper into tabletop RPG games. A big part of that is the community of gamers that we have here. Of the varied RPG sessions that we offer, probably 30-40% of our players are women. Some came on their own looking for a group to play with, some came to investigate the mysterious place their boyfriend vanished to once a week. Whatever the reason for joining us, many have stayed and become an important part of our gaming community. For my part, I not only play RPGs now, but I actually find myself behind the Dungeon Master’s screen at the Meeple every Monday.
Being behind the screen for a tabletop group has definitely been a learning experience. My own Monday night group is pretty varied, and includes some couples who come to play together as well as some family members who were curious to see how I would do after watching me come into my own as a player. In my first games there was definitely a lot of anxiety on my part, being one of a very select group of women who have taken on the role of Dungeon Master. Even playing in such a welcoming environment for women, it felt like a lot of pressure at first – not necessarily to prove that a woman could run a game as well as any of the guys, but to hold up to the standards of women authors. Being a DM is a lot like writing a story; it’s a story where you have to be willing to let go of a lot of control (or at least let your players think you are letting go) all while wearing a lot of different hats to keep everything flowing smoothly. After relaxing a bit more into the role I realized that this could be a place where the ladies in a group really shine. Studies have found that women can be better at multitasking than men and I have definitely put all of that skill to use!
I can’t say that everything has always gone smoothly. One of the early DM secrets my husband shared with me was that you have to be willing to make a call that might go against the rules, but that fits in with where the players and the story are heading. I had to exert my own authority to make these calls, as my early players had a tendency to either question my decision or go to my husband, who also plays at my table, and ask him for his opinion on whether my ruling was correct. This took some time, and a few marital conversations, to resolve, but I now find that my players trust my judgment as DM. I’ve later thought back on those days and realized that most of this issue lay in my own self-consciousness, and not in fact that any of my players didn’t think I was up to the task as a woman.
I’ve definitely spent some of my time as a DM introducing other women to this game. It has been rewarding for me to watch their excitement grow as they learned that they could do, or at least try to do, anything they wanted with their character. We at the Malted Meeple hope that everyone can feel that level of excitement and enjoyment with these games. And although our hobby may not be for everyone, we never want anyone to be afraid to step through our doors and give any of our games a chance. Male or female, you might be surprised at how much fun you will have!
A romance that led to marriage brought Chrissy into full-fledged nerdom. She couldn’t help but dive head first into D&D which led to the wonderful world of board games and then ultimately an obsession with Geek and Sundry’s Tabletop series. Now she spends her time doing what she loves, making milkshakes, teaching games, and spinning stories behind the DM Screen.