Every time I go to a garage sale, I see a dusty copy of The Seven Habit of Highly Effective People. There must be a lot of people trying to be effective but not really putting their heart in it. I read the introduction once where the author shows his scheduling priority system and I thought two things: 1. what a douchebag 2. Clearly I’ll never be an effective person. I then tossed it aside and went back to grinding my legendary weapons in Final Fantasy X. I never could get the lightning dodging one, just another way in which I am an ineffective person, I suppose.
In the same way, a lot of groups want to have more women, but don’t seem to know how to go about it. In the spirit of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I present to you seven habits of women-friendly gaming communities, which have the chief advantage of being electronic so I will not have the sad experience of seeing them dusty at garage sales when they inevitably get ignored. I assume, in this list, that we’re talking about groups that actually want women. The deliberate sausage fests like the infamous No Chicks Allowed guild can go die in a fire but require no advanced thinking skills to explain.
1. Allow pseudonyms and respect users privacy absolutely, even for things that might not seem private to you, like gender.
2. Have a code of conduct that prohibits harassment and enforce it.
3. When members of your community say sexist things, call them to task, particularly if you are a respected community member. Silence looks like agreement to lurkers.
4. If a woman voices concern over some aspect of how your community works, take her seriously, even if that concern is something that would never matter to a male member personally. (see required gender field issues)
5. If you find out that a pseudonymous community member is female, carry on as you did before you knew.
6. Have visible, vocal female leaders whom the male leaders and members treat like human beings.
7. Demonstrate the woman friendly nature of your community by behaving well in the public game space.
Does a place exist anywhere that follows these amazing habits? Yes, actually. I didn’t make them up; these are the habits of real communities I’ve been a member of. It doesn’t mean that the community is perfect, or that it doesn’t occasionally have a nasty bout of the misogyny (kind of like the most attractive person might have a nasty bout of hormonal pimples now and again). Consciousness is raised through conflict and discourse, so I don’t expect a good community to be perfect, just to be willing to have a conversation.