The origin of “Gamer”, a brief history of women in early gaming, and board games

This article on Medium is pretty awesome.  It focuses largely on my own gaming background, which is not video games, not Dungeons & Dragons, but classic war games.

Apparently the demographic skew of hardcore gaming (there is nothing more hardcore than little cardboard squares in piles representing panzer divisions pressing across the Ardennes) has always been fairly overwhelming.  In fact, for over 100 years now, gamers (or at least HG Wells) have been complaining that ladies don’t understand or look down upon their Small Wars.  While there’ve been a lot of studies into modern video games & gaming demographics, I’ve yet to see any serious studies as to why so few women are interested in hex & chit style war games, even one that just says “women gamers see women as being wholly marginalized by depersonalized male fighting forces controlled by the player in abstract as some disembodied uber general”.  One can’t make any argument about representation in these games (sure, there’s a leader unit piece for Eowyn in the SPI Gondor game, but that’s all I can think of off the top of my head); you can imagine, I suppose, that within these entirely abstract ‘strength points’ or units there might be women fighters or support units that you could pretend are there, but really it’s just a cardboard square with some numbers and something like crossed swords or a box with an x in it.

Molly Pitcher's in there somewhere!  Can you spot her?

Molly Pitcher’s in there somewhere! Can you spot her?

Though I haven’t bothered to keep my readers up to date with a play-by-play of my dad & I’s game of 1776, as I fear I might bore, I’ll probably give a detailed run-down once things are over.  (It’s December 1778, the French have arrived, given the colonists a fighting chance, but the war is far from won; my girlfriend is baffled that after 4 weeks, we’re only a little half-way through with our game.)