Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Women At War

Over the weekend my husband and I found the time to play Command & Colors: Ancients three times and I’ve come to the conclusion that this is my favorite 2-player game in my collection. If I could keep only one 2-player game, this would be it. After reading a thread on BGG about women and war games, I started to wonder what makes me (and a handful of other women) different from the majority who wouldn’t even contemplate playing a war game.

Is it genetic as some suggest, a left-over from prehistoric times when men were the hunters and women took care of the caves? Maybe, but even then I bet women had to have a strong survival instinct combined with a confrontational attitude. All through history there have been strong-willed women who weren’t afraid of going head-to-head with anyone: man, woman or country. Of course, all of these strong-willed women could be descendants of Ghengis Kahn or Joan of Arc.

Is it environment, being raised to think for yourself and stand up for what you want? I grew up in a, let’s call it a rambunctious household. Five children, myself the oldest. Oh, yeah, there was confrontation happening all the time. But I was a typical girl of the 60’s, playing with Barbie dolls, jacks, jump rope, tag and hide-and-seek. I never even knew there were games that were themed around fighting a war.

Is it learned? Can someone with no experience or inclination learn to think of a war game as a simple head-to-head battle of wits with movement options like any abstract game and resource management (cards, movement points, whatever) like rummy. For myself, I think spending months playing Risk with my husband where he initially taught me how to see strategic plays and think beyond my roll-and-move experience was an important step. But maybe I had the genes and the environmental factors already in place and that just gave me the push in the right direction.

In the end, all of my thinking has left me no closer to the answer than when I started. The one thing I know is that I hate hearing women put into a category just because they are women. We are not all satisfied to simply keep house and raise children and take care of our men. This should be obvious from the direction women have taken in the last fifty years: from the kitchen to the factory to the boardroom. So please, gentlemen, if your wife won’t play war games, don’t say it’s just because she’s a woman and women don’t like confrontation.



Gerald McD said...

The reason you like wargames? Probably all of the above.

I suspect you just simply like gaming and competition, from whatever the source of that interest. And, you are good at it, so it gives you positive feedback.

Game On, Mary!

Michael said...

My wife won't play war games although she isn't intimitated by them. I think it is just that theme carries a significant weight for her with most games.

She also refused to play Black cards in MtG and will rarely play the LotR Confrontation because of the artwork on the cards. I can't get her to play Jack the Ripper (Mystery Rummy) often due to the theme.

However, she has been able to play Risk so maybe an abstracted War game is acceptable at times. But if I mention a game of War of the Ring or Battle Cry she politely refrains from participating -- can't wait until my son is old enough to play though ;-)