Why Do Gaming Communities Exclude Women?


Up until now, I’ve had positive experiences playing games I enjoy which just happen to be in male dominated communities. I’ve never asked or expected special treatment. I’ve never faked interest in any of these games. I like what I like and that just happens to be twenty-sided die and instant spells. I’ve spent a lot of time playing World of Warcraft and Magic:The Gathering (specifically in EDH/Commander format).

I recently downloaded an iOS app iMTG to help keep score during games. Upon first opening the app and looking at the scoring interface, I noticed the default player names are “Sir One” and “Sir Two”.

Clicking on “Sir One” brings up another window giving you the option to change the names. However, they are all defaulted to Sir.

You can manually change all the names but it still struck me as odd for the developer to assume every player would be male. On the other hand, I thought this could be a cultural colloquialism I’m not familiar with where Sir is being used as a gender-neutral address.

Either way, I was confused and a bit bothered by this. I’ve used lots of scoring apps and the default names are always “Player One”, “Player Two” so seeing something else looked odd.

I don’t usually email developers with complaints, as I know how much effort building an app takes, especially if it’s not your full-time job. However, this would be a small change and would hardly affect anything else.

I emailed the developer, asking if Sir was being used in a gender-neutral way and if it wasn’t, if it could be changed. [original]

Here is the response:

Email Text:

“We use ‘sir’ because majority of our customers are male. We also use colours because majority of our users can see. You are free to change the names yourself.”

Was I being petty over a modifiable name? Probably. Did the developer send an unnecessarily rude response? Absolutely.

There have been countless remarks about the MTG community (and the male-dominated gaming community in general) regarding sexism. I don’t understand how these outdated sexist views remain rampant among a group of such smart individuals. What does the community get out of excluding women? How does that make the game more enjoyable?

On the reverse, how does introducing something you love to other people ruin the game?

I don’t want this post to bring even more negative attention to MTG because it is a game I really enjoy and I do want more people (men and women) to play. However, the developer of the iMTG app, Piotr Farbiszewski, wrote an inappropriate response to a reasonable request.

I ask that those of you who are using the iMTG app, please find an alternative (there are many) instead of supporting the misogynistic attitude that is ruining this community.


If you have thoughts on this and would like to discuss please use Twitter or send me an email.