Are female D&D players comfier around male D&D players these days?

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Moracai

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I was kinda of two minds should I post this or not (because of an earlier comment), but I'll do it anyway.

I started gaming in the very late eighties, and I've gamed more than once with only one woman, in contrast to tens, maybe near a hundred plus men. I'm not an unattractive specimen of my gender, and I have never had any difficulties in finding partners. None of the women I've dated/married has ever shown any interest in the hobby after the first session. I am not saying it is a gender specific thing, but perhaps more associated with the culture of the prevailing age, or even a local culture. I personally know only a few twentysomething girls right now, and playing any games (aside from candy crush category and tinder) is very far from their areas of interest.
 

Isator Levi

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I think some of the question should consider that it's not necessarily a seesaw. That is to say, the number of women engaged with this and related hobbies could have been going up at the same time as the manner in which some men have conducted themselves has decreased, whether that be ones whose conduct has become more unpleasant as they've aged or being followed up on by younger ones who have come in with a worse attitude.

At the same time, there are means by which one can curate their groups to a higher degree of comfort that were not available forty years ago, whether that be in communications technology or the development of common practices that not everybody is vocally disdainful of.
 

TristramEvans

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I don't like sexual violence in my games, it really has nothing to do with girls being present or not - it's that I'm there to have a good time and enjoy myself, and I don't find that stuff entertaining. It's certainly not necessary for horror...if I'm known for anything among my players, it's running effective horror games. But I think that stuff should remain implied, metaphorical, r in the background. YMMV, but outside of a few edge cases, most people that I've gamed with seem to agree.

Which brings me back to the thread's topic: notice when I say "people I game with". Maybe the reason I've had more luck finding girl gamers to play with over the years is that I don't think in terms of "girl gamers", just people. There's a tendency, especially I think when one starts making generalizations, for some folks to treat women like they are some separate species or something. And then to assign them "group tastes" or something.

Like, why did girls like Vampire? Mostly the same reasons everyone did at the time - Vampire managed to come out at the right place/time to capture the particular zeitgeist of the '90s - it was dark, and edgy and sexycool. Vampires were the monsters that embodied that decade, in the same way zombies embodied the decade to follow. And the vampire clans were cleverly mapped to social cliques in American High schools so it was really easy to find that one group that appealed to you as an individual, or how you saw yourself as an adolescent. And the system was simple and a breath of fresh air, making the barrier to entry low. Aesthetically, at the time, early White Wolf was the Apple of RPG products - hip and selling you an image moreso than a product. And it sold that image hard - the sort of faux-mature that appeals specifically to preteens. Not to mention D&D was pretty passé by that point, not old enough to garner nostalgia yet - just old.
 

Moracai

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And the vampire clans were cleverly mapped to social cliques in American High schools so it was really easy to find that one group that appealed to you as an individual, or how you saw yourself as an adolescent.
Wow! That's exactly what my son said to me when I introduced him with the PC game Vampire the Masquesrede: Bloodlines. I guess I was blind to that fact because I was too close to that age when it was first published..
 

Shipyard Locked

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I've seen people talk about the matter in terms of how the layer of metaphor and fantasy manages to make it more comfortable to engage with, more removed from reality.

I equate realistic vs non as being able to have a dissonance barrier between yourself and the particular offense

Sure, I can buy that to some extent. However, with vampires that "dissonance barrier" frankly seems paper thin.

"Oh no, he's roughly grabbing parts of my body, pinning me down with his superior strength and penetrating me with his d... dental weapons! My biological functions are being brutally hijacked and he might make me pre... predisposed to fainting or dying from blood loss! God this is disgusting, he's actually co... considerably enjoying this violation!"

Let's face it, vampires are disturbing monsters even if you tiptoe around the obvious. I think a lot of people only tolerate them as a flimsy metaphor because they've been culturally grandfathered in. Personally, I've likely run my last V:TM campaign.

If I was going up against Drow, Slaanesh or Shub-Niggurath Cults, I’d expect a lot worse than Deliverance if I was caught.

I can picture the session now...

GM: Unfortunately, you have been captured alive by the dark eldar! After being shipped back to their homework of endless torture they-
Player: [Starts reaching for the X card] Uh, er, ah, w-what do they do to us exactly!?
GM: They impale you alive upon spikes that you shall slowly slide down in utter agony for months, kept alive by hideous medical interventions.
Player: Oh, thank the God Emperor, I thought- WAIT [starts lifting the X card] through which portion or portions of our anatomy are we impaled!?
GM: Err... your backs and stomachs?
Player: Phew! [Drops the X card] Well that's too bad, but hey, at least we can play that Black Crusade campaign now. I'm going to make a Tzeentch sorcerer who turns imperial guardsmen into gibbering fleshbags that endlessly wail for death!
 

Simlasa

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What always pops to mind when this topic comes up is that I've never heard my female friends wondering/worrying over the lack of male interest in their hobbies. No guys at scrapbooking club? Why? Why not? No one ever seems to care one way or another.
But I've seen male gamers wringing their hands over how to get more females into the hobby since seemingly forever.

My own anecdote is the reverse of the one poised by the OP though. My earliest gaming groups were close to an even mix... friends from church youth group, friends from college. But nowadays... all the groups I play with are solidly male.
One of the GMs regularly tries to get women to join... and I suspect that's part of why no women do.
The other groups... no visible reason other than none of us knowing any women who'd be interested, I guess.
I've run games for my friend and her nephew, but she can barely manage to pay attention... it's just not her thing.
I'd go with the claims of cultural relevance... Vampire seemed cool to a lot of folks, Stranger Things brought in a lot of new blood too.
I hang out with 8th graders all day, so I'm not buying it that men were jerks to women back then but now they're a kinder/gentler sort.
 

Silverlion

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I don't like sexual violence in my games, it really has nothing to do with girls being present or not - it's that I'm there to have a good time and enjoy myself, and I don't find that stuff entertaining. It's certainly not necessary for horror...if I'm known for anything among my players, it's running effective horror games. But I think that stuff should remain implied, metaphorical, r in the background. YMMV, but outside of a few edge cases, most people that I've gamed with seem to agree.

Which brings me back to the thread's topic: notice when I say "people I game with". Maybe the reason I've had more luck finding girl gamers to play with over the years is that I don't think in terms of "girl gamers", just people. There's a tendency, especially I think when one starts making generalizations, for some folks to treat women like they are some separate species or something. And then to assign them like "group tastes" or something.

Both my preference and general experience as well, honestly.
 

T. Foster

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In the 80s-00s we typically had one female player alongside 4-5 males, but sometimes the group was all dudes and I don’t remember ever having more than two girls at the same time, so the anecdotal 10% matches my personal experience. I was usually the GM and never included or condoned rapey type stuff, but some of the other male players still acted low-key creepy, which probably caused at least one of the female players to quit the group (she didn’t say that was the reason, but it makes sense that it would’ve been).

In my experience female players are usually more interested in their characters - detailing them, defining their backstory and personality, having them grow like characters in novels - and less interested in the tactical, problem-solving, and resource management challenges that have always most central to my games, so they tend to get bored pretty easily. I feel like it’s non-coincidental that both 5E and the type of “rules lite” games that are popular now tend to foreground the former elements and de-emphasize the latter (at least compared to the old “simulationist” style games of the 70s and early 80s, I.e. all of my favorites) and the feedback loop as female gamers have become more common and prominent continues to push things further and further in that direction, pushing my interests further and further towards the margins.

I’ve always liked having female players at the table, not least because it helps keep the male players on better behavior - less belching and farting and BO and aggressive locker-room dicksizing oneupsmanship type stuff - but I’ve never been willing to change the game away from what I like and find to be fun in order to cater to them. By modern standards that surely marks me as a Neanderthalic gatekeeper and symbol of the bad old days of the hobby. I’ve learned to live with that, but it does make it awkward when my wife mentions to people that I’m a D&Der and they start wanting to talk to me about their 5E games and it seems like we have almost nothing in common.
 

TristramEvans

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What always pops to mind when this topic comes up is that I've never heard my female friends wondering/worrying over the lack of male interest in their hobbies. No guys at scrapbooking club? Why? Why not? No one ever seems to care one way or another.
But I've seen male gamers wringing their hands over how to get more females into the hobby since seemingly forever.
My suspicion is that it's tied to the need some people have for social validation. I've spoken on this before, but growing up as part of comicbook fandom, there was always a vocal subset o the fandom desperate for society et large to recognize comics as a "legitimate" artform (for those too young to remember, comics in the 80s still carried the combined stigma of the Wertham senate trials and the impression that they were exclusively entertainment aimed at children - in the same manner that North American audiences largely viewed animation until anime became mainstream). Every time something like Watchmen or The Sandman appeared there seemed to be this group that parade it around as the work that would finally "legitimize comics" (none of them actually did at the time). The magazine The Comics Journal was essentially the figurehead of this movement at the time. And, well, they eventually accomplished this goal. Nowadays, series like Watchmen, Bone, and Maus are frequently inserted in clickbait "best literature of the 20th century" lists and their ilk. But it did take until about the end of the '90's (or more accurately I think, for the aging out of the Boomer generation). But anyone who wants to see what it was like in the early 90s should just google up the severe and intense backlash at the time to an issue of Gaiman's Sandman winning the "best short story" award for science fiction & fantasy in like...93? IIRC (so severe that in order to appease the literati, the awards ratified their rules so that comics would henceforth be excluded from nomination).

Anyways, the point of that tangent is that there has long been an analogous movement in the RPG hobby from those who wanted the hobby to be socially recognized as "legitimate"...for RPGs to be acknowledged as an "artform". Early White Wolf, as I mentioned upthread, played into this, not only with (very surface level) explorations of more mature or literary themes, but also ubiquitous references to Joseph Campbell and it's claims of RPGs being the modern evolution of ancient traditions of mankind (no, I'm not joking - the original editions of these games waxed on about how roleplaying traces its legacy back to cavemen telling stories around campfires).

And I think a big part of that was rejecting the "Gamer stereotypes" of men with low social skills unable to interact with (or actively repelling) women. If more women gamed, it would be seen as a more socially accepted activity, rather than something that only appeals to young boys (implicitly immature).
Knitting circles never had to reckon with social stigmatization or infantilizing stereotypes.

One can also see an analogous path in the videogame industry, and I think these same motivations lay behind the now infamous "Death of the Gamer" articles that kickstarted....well, a bunch of crap we don't need to talk about. Gaming critics were craving legitimacy (regardless of whether that was earned or deserved). Getting more girls to play videogames was seen as the solution to removing the gender-assigned-toy-aisle based stereotype videogames had been placed in.
 

Simlasa

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Anyways, the point of that tangent is that there has long been an analogous movement in the RPG hobby from those who wanted the hobby to be socially recognized as "legitimate"...for RPGs to be acknowledged as an "artform".
Makes sense.

Now I'm trying to think of a (at least supposedly) female-focused hobby/subculture that has had a similar striving for legitimacy. Do people who read loads of romance novels care if they're considered 'literary' or not?
 

Endless Flight

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Every time something like Watchmen or The Sandman appeared there seemed to be this group that parade it around as the work that would finally "legitimize comics" (none of them actually did at the time). The magazine The Comics Journal was essentially the figurehead of this movement at the time. And, well, they eventually accomplished this goal. Nowadays, series like Watchmen, Bone, and Maus are frequently inserted in clickbait "best literature of the 20th century"
07D0451F-1557-44BA-8601-D4BAEB1228E8.png
 

Bunch

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I can't say I've ever cared if women played at the table with me. If they came with a partner growing up it was likely an issue because teenage relationships are fraught with issues. I game with adults now and I never see arguments that the husband or wife didn't put the other ahead of the rest of the group. Everyone's old enough not to care.

I guess the only time I've wanted the game to be more acceptable was at work where asking if folks gamed wasn't treated the same as if they liked basketball.
 

TristramEvans

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Makes sense.

Now I'm trying to think of a female-focused hobby/subculture that has had a similar striving for legitimacy. Do people who read loads of romance novels care if they're considered 'literary' or not?

closest I can think of is Lindsey Ellis's arguments that the reason the Twilight books and films were held in low esteem was because they were primarily enjoyed by younger girls and, according to her, society looks down on things enjoyed by young girls, but...well, let's just say I didn't find her arguments especially convincing.


As a counterpoint, I don't think My Little Pony's reputation was helped in any way due to the presence of "Bronies"
 

Endless Flight

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I’ve tried to watch some of those Twilight movies but I don’t get them. It’s not like Harry Potter, which has a lot of redeeming qualities.
 

TristramEvans

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I’ve tried to watch some of those Twilight movies but I don’t get them. It’s not like Harry Potter, which has a lot of redeeming qualities.

I think Twilight's appeal lies in a reader/watcher's ability to self-project themselves onto the main character, who is essentially devoid of individuality/personality in order to facilitate this.
 

T. Foster

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There’s an aggressive lobby to get Taylor Swift considered as a great musical genius on the same level as, say, Mozart.
 

TristramEvans

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There’s an aggressive lobby to get Taylor Swift considered as a great musical genius on the same level as, say, Mozart.

giphy.gif
 

Endless Flight

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I think part of my problem are the movies themselves. I don’t like the cinematography. The colors are so dull. I’m sure that was an intentional artistic decision because of the subject matter.
 

TristramEvans

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I think part of my problem are the movies themselves. I don’t like the cinematography. The colors are so dull. I’m sure that was an artistic decision.

I couldn't make it through the first one. But the Pitch meetings are hilarious

 

Endless Flight

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There’s an aggressive lobby to get Taylor Swift considered as a great musical genius on the same level as, say, Mozart.
You have to compare her to contemporaries, or even folks within the last hundred years first, to see how she stacks up before going to Mozart. Is she a better writer than Dylan? Lennon/McCartney? Wonder? Wilson? Gaye? Holland-Dozier-Holland? Robinson? Simon? The list goes on and on…
 

A Fiery Flying Roll

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You have to compare her to contemporaries, or even folks within the last hundred years first, to see how she stacks up before going to Mozart. Is she a better writer than Dylan? Lennon/McCartney? Wonder? Wilson? Gaye? Holland-Dozier-Holland? Robinson? Simon? The list goes on and on…
You also have to come up with subjective metrics first. Are you judging her as a pop star? A lyricist? A singer?
 

chuckdee

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However, with vampires that "dissonance barrier" frankly seems paper thin.
That's a matter of personal tolerance I think, and is never going to be the same for everyone. The point is, you'll never encounter a vampire in real life. A serial killer? A serial rapist? Unfortunately possible.
 

Gabriel

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I’ve tried to watch some of those Twilight movies but I don’t get them.

I kept hearing they were epically horrible; good flicks to pop in on bad movie night and make fun of. Then I watched the first one and it was just boring. Just forgettable.
 

Dammit Victor

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Since I've graduated high school, the majority of my gaming groups-- and the vast majority of the stable, wholesome ones-- have been majority female.

I have never noticed any gender disparity in terms of interest in gaming and/or nerd culture.

One thing I have noticed is that every female gamer of a certain age and/or veterancy has personal horror stories, compared to maybe a slim majority of men.
 

TristramEvans

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This is not a hypothetical question. It's a smaller problem, but getting rid of these fucking assholes would be good for everyone.

lol, well, I'm not sure anyone's come up with a solution for extricating assholes from any community, or society, but it is one of the reasons I exclusively game with friends and vet players beforehand
 

CRKrueger

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Sure, I can buy that to some extent. However, with vampires that "dissonance barrier" frankly seems paper thin.

"Oh no, he's roughly grabbing parts of my body, pinning me down with his superior strength and penetrating me with his d... dental weapons! My biological functions are being brutally hijacked and he might make me pre... predisposed to fainting or dying from blood loss! God this is disgusting, he's actually co... considerably enjoying this violation!"

Let's face it, vampires are disturbing monsters even if you tiptoe around the obvious. I think a lot of people only tolerate them as a flimsy metaphor because they've been culturally grandfathered in. Personally, I've likely run my last V:TM campaign.



I can picture the session now...

GM: Unfortunately, you have been captured alive by the dark eldar! After being shipped back to their homework of endless torture they-
Player: [Starts reaching for the X card] Uh, er, ah, w-what do they do to us exactly!?
GM: They impale you alive upon spikes that you shall slowly slide down in utter agony for months, kept alive by hideous medical interventions.
Player: Oh, thank the God Emperor, I thought- WAIT [starts lifting the X card] through which portion or portions of our anatomy are we impaled!?
GM: Err... your backs and stomachs?
Player: Phew! [Drops the X card] Well that's too bad, but hey, at least we can play that Black Crusade campaign now. I'm going to make a Tzeentch sorcerer who turns imperial guardsmen into gibbering fleshbags that endlessly wail for death!
From the very first version of the Modern Byronic Vampire, vampires have been intertwined with and a metaphor for parasitic and abusive sexual relationships.
 

Chris Brady

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That's kind of my point I guess. While many female geeks have always enjoyed the Red Sonja archetype, I used to have the impression female gamers used to be reluctant to play this type of character, or some other more sexual PC types, for fear of reaction from some male gamers. But that seems to me to have faded in recent years, especially the last 6-8 years. But that's just my impression, and I was wondering if others with a wide experience of lots of different players over recent decades had seen this too.
I'm not speaking for anyone but myself. 100+ gamers I've had the pleasure of gaming with for almost 40 years, moving from city to city, school to school, job to job. Almost all of the girls that joined the games, the vast majority have ALWAYS wanted to play attractive female characters. Some go full Red Sonja (Even in non-fantasy games...) others like playing the political mastermind and all sorts in between, but almost all of them have wanted to be 'hot'. Lately (6-7 years) my current crew has taken to using found art images (Including some AI stuff) to represent them.

Purely anecdotal, but this has been my experience.
 

CRKrueger

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I kept hearing they were epically horrible; good flicks to pop in on bad movie night and make fun of. Then I watched the first one and it was just boring. Just forgettable.
There’s ”bad but fun”, “so bad it becomes surreal and elevated to art in its monstrosity”, and there’s “how much more could a decent script and director have cost?”
Twilight’s the last one.
 

Toadmaster

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Makes sense.

Now I'm trying to think of a (at least supposedly) female-focused hobby/subculture that has had a similar striving for legitimacy. Do people who read loads of romance novels care if they're considered 'literary' or not?

That is your problem, RPGs are male dominated but not "male focused". That is like saying the chess club is male focused.

RPGs like the chess club were not "cool". Guys are supposed to be into dirty stuff that makes you sweaty, or is dangerous, sports, welding, car clubs, naked parasailing while drunk.

Sewing / quilting clubs, book clubs, are socially respectable activities for women, like playing softball is for guys. Guys of course are welcome in these hobbies, but it lacks the respect for men, that it has for women. If a guy takes home economics he is supposed to point out the 20-1 female to male ratio, not the life skills he is gaining. For what its worth, men on sewing forums do attract attention, because they are something of a unicorn.
 

Toadmaster

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I kept hearing they were epically horrible; good flicks to pop in on bad movie night and make fun of. Then I watched the first one and it was just boring. Just forgettable.

My wife is into vampires and even she doesn't like the twilight books / movies. Based on her comments they are basically whiny teen dramas that happen to have whiny angsty vampires and werewolves.
 

Simlasa

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That is your problem, RPGs are male dominated but not "male focused". That is like saying the chess club is male focused.
Yeah, I agree that 'focused' isn't quite the right term for what I was after... though I'm not sure 'dominated' gets it either. I meant the presumption that people generally have about who is doing it, even if that presumption is wrong.
Sewing / quilting clubs, book clubs, are socially respectable activities for women, like playing softball is for guys. Guys of course are welcome in these hobbies, but it lacks the respect for men, that it has for women.
I've been in a couple of those... a sewing group and some book clubs. It might be peculiar to my friends but they had a solid mix of men and women... except for one horror book club where I was the only guy.
But I would presume most sewing clubs are predominantly female, as with scrapbooking (another group I was in, though it was more about the book than the scrap).
Attracting some attention, being the only guy, maybe, but I can't recall any talk/concern about why more guys didn't want to join.
 

Toadmaster

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Yeah, I agree that 'focused' isn't quite the right term for what I was after... though I'm not sure 'dominated' gets it either. I meant the presumption that people generally have about who is doing it, even if that presumption is wrong.

I've been in a couple of those... a sewing group and some book clubs. It might be peculiar to my friends but they had a solid mix of men and women... except for one horror book club where I was the only guy.
But I would presume most sewing clubs are predominantly female, as with scrapbooking (another group I was in, though it was more about the book than the scrap).
Attracting some attention, being the only guy, maybe, but I can't recall any talk/concern about why more guys didn't want to join.

Again this comes down to traditional gender activities. It may be cool when a guy joins the club, but it is pretty well known why more don't so most don't waste any thought on why or how to get more men involved.

I'm trying to think of a female dominated hobby that isn't a considered a primarily female activity or even a female "nerdy" hobby that could compare with RPGs. Pole dancing is not exactly a respectable female hobby, but it is certainly female centered (not a lot of people encouraging male pole dancers).

I can think of many male dominated hobbies that fit the criteria and most I'm involved with you see the same issues raised, how do we get more women involved. Plastic models comes to mind, again not a "cool guy" hobby and nothing was done to specifically keep women out, but women form a small minority in that hobby. Like RPGs this often comes down to subjects. Women modelers do tend to gravitate towards sci-fi and figures vs men who favor cars and military subjects. The increase in figures and sci-fi is kind of a chicken and an egg thing. Are they bringing women in, or are increasing numbers of women leading to more stuff they are interested in.

I think the issue is what is considered socially acceptable activities for men and women. Most of the things I can think of are sports related, and these are either co-ed teams (which tend to heavily weigh towards men) or gender divided which make that hard to compare with RPGs.
 

TJS

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There’s ”bad but fun”, “so bad it becomes surreal and elevated to art in its monstrosity”, and there’s “how much more could a decent script and director have cost?”
Twilight’s the last one.
Bad movies that are fun are really pretty rare.

And they rarely come out of Hollywood studios anymore. They have a enough money to at least reach the lower end of dull mediocrity. Even when youtubers rant and rave about major plot holes it usually just reveals that noone really cared enough to consider them.

It usually takes someone's failed passion project to be bad in a way that is actually fun to watch.
 

Rob Necronomicon

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I guess... I mean there's a lot more 'awareness' about the subject.

That said I've always had a couple of girls at my table - going back 25 years. I never felt that they were uncomfortable. But it was a good group and we all respected each other. I wouldn't tolerate bad behavior at a game. It's a game for everyone as far as I'm concerned.
 

A Fiery Flying Roll

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"We are never, ever , ever
Getting back together"

I mean, did Shakespeare ever write any line so poignant?
It's better then

"Oh, yeah, I'll tell you something
I think you'll understand
When I'll say that something
I wanna hold your hand"

The Beatles? Just a shit version of The Monkees.

Also, Shakespeare does great tragedy but his comedy is feeble. People are always all "that's because it's old so you don't have the cultural references". Shut the fuck up. The Roman and Greek satirists are still hilarious. It's just Shakespeare is bad at jokes.
 
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