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Increasing Diversity In The Netrunner Community


#43

I think you have misread me. Women do not intrinsically struggle with Netrunner because of their sex. However, they are more likely to struggle with the game than a man for the reasons I outlined above:

  • Less likely to have CCG experience
  • Less likely to come across information about the game
  • Uncomfortable at game stores in which the game is played
  • Less exposure to cyberpunk and its terminology (Rez, sysop, ICE, flatline, etc.)
    etc.

I think this all leads to them struggling with the game more than a 30 year old who blew all his cash on boosters when he was a kid and played Magic for five years.


#44

The general casual ‘not ready to dive into tourney play’ group is bound to include some non-CWM people, so making the game more accessible to all makes it indirectly more accessible to non-CWM people.

I would say that if you have to go into CWM dominated spaces, like card shops or Slack, to find information rather than some freely available Internet repository, it could be off-putting to non-CWM people.

Therefore I agree that creating more resources like deck primers, strategy, and theory articles might help.

I also like the idea of reaching out to non-CWM players to include them in community streams/casts. Or promoting the streams/casts of non-CWM producers.

None of the most impactful stuff we could do would be entirely without effort, and there isn’t a single magical solution to discover that will instantly fix the diversity problem. So, if you’re looking for something like that, I regret to inform you it doesn’t exist.

Best we can do, I think, is plod toward incremental change: Call out bad attitudes, point out exclusionary speech, highlight non-CWM people, and generally be as good and inviting toward one another as we can be.


#45

Measurable change is difficult because it’s hard to determine the exact causes of any particular person entering the game and afaik nobody’s really publishing accurate stats on the demographics of Netrunner. We’re trying to propose mechanisms that should, in theory, present a more welcoming environment for these underrepresented groups. If it helps one person feel more comfortable in the community then that’s a win as far as I’m concerned. And if it all amounts to nothing then the only thing I’m wasting is my own time and effort, on a cause that seems worthwhile at present.

I find this hard to reconcile with the people I know personally that have been driven out of both this community and other gaming communities due to toxic behaviour, as well of others who have expressed their doubts about how welcome they are in the Netrunner community following incidents such as the Euros finals stream. We do have problems, and those problems have a negative impact on diversity.


#46

Here’s my problem with this statement. It presupposes that it is the essence of Netrunner, as a game, which is unappealing to WNB folk- and that this is the inherent reason for their under-representation. I find this a little patronising, and it ignores the broader evidence that under-representation is much more to do with concern about gaming spaces, and whether they will be patronised, or hit on, or otherwisemade to feel unsafe.


#47

It seems to me we are talking past each other. My statement was much more literal than that: Women, as a demographic group, do not find Netrunner appealing.

That doesn’t mean that Netrunner gives you an itch if you happen to have an uterus, it’s simply that women (as a demographic) are less interested for diverse sociocultural reasons. For example, since women tend to have less CCG experience, Netrunner is less appealing to them than it is to men. Similarly, since less women like cyberpunk, Netrunner, being a cyberpunk game, is less appealing to them.

I think the demographic gap will be reduced as societies become less sexist, but it will be slow. I think the most viable ways to affect this change is through the suggestions I made above.


#48

I hope you won’t find my reply patronizing but this is the same line of reasoning that was held years ago in the Magic the Gathering community. And while I understand that these are different games and communities, they share similar tastes, patterns and goals. The MtG community has been through a lot of changes during the past 5+ years. Accessibility of the game and its community to women, people of color, LGBTQ people and other communities has been steadily increasing and it has a real positive effect beyond these groups, to the benefit of the entire community and the game.

One of the obstacle to overcome in this discussion is going to be prejudices and, with all due respect, I think you illustrate one. Women don’t have less interest for things than we do, neither do black, muslims, trans or other kinds of players. Don’t judge based on what you see, because you’re missing an essential aspect: what they have is less opportunities because there are barriers to entry for them, and most people do not see those barriers (I’m not even talking about those who do not want to see them, I’ll sincerely give everyone the benefit of the doubt).

I hope this communicates my point in a constructive manner and will help steer this discussion in the right direction!


#49

There are two related but separate problems: for sociological reasons, women may well be less likely to find Netrunner appealing. And for reasons which may include attitudes in our community, women who do find Netrunner appealing seem to be less likely to find the community appealing.

You seem to be arguing that the first problem is the main reason why we see so few women in the community and that since we can’t address it directly, we shouldn’t worry about it. I believe that the second problem is a fairly major factor in why we don’t have more women in the community, and since we can address it directly, we should work on doing so.

Incidentally, I have taught Netrunner to roughly as many women as men, and most of them seemed to find it reasonably appealing as a game. They weren’t interested in taking it up as a hobby, but neither were any of the men I’ve taught, so that may not mean much.


#50

I don’t think @ErikTwice is saying we shouldn’t worry about it. I think his concern is that that first problem makes progress difficult, and that should temper our expectations. (Erik, I apologize if I mistook your meaning.)

But I think we’ve got ourselves a bit sidetracked with this topic. Broader societal forces may or may not be a significant factor in the demographics of (casual/kitchen-table/what-have-you) Netrunner players. And while we should be cognizant of those and work to diminish them, that seems to be outside the scope of this thread as laid out in its mission in the first post. I do wish this forum had better support for side topics, as I wouldn’t want to stop this discussion outright. But for the goals here, I suspect it is not particularly constructive. If the broader forces are a large factor, we may indeed be unable to effect much change as quickly as we’d like. But rather than getting caught up in arguing about whether those forces are so significant, let us focus on what we can do within ourselves. I suspect that a meaningful part in big changes in society is a lot of small communities making their own small changes.


#51

To try to bring this discussion into something more immediate: I think it’s worthwhile to be mindful that stereotypes about gaming exist, and that they have an impact on the perception of the Netrunner community. Seeing competitive tournaments at game stores attended almost entirely by white cis men may reinforce attitudes that “this space is not for me”.

So my guess is that efforts to be more welcoming to diverse players may require breaking the stereotype by intentionally changing at least one aspect of that formula: competition, venue, or participants. I’m curious if people’s experience with non-competitive events or events in cafes and pubs bear this out at all. In the Bay Area, learn-to-play events seemed to gather more diversity than our events in a board game cafe, but maybe a board game cafe isn’t different enough? (Personally, I would also love to see more of a non-competitive internet community for the game.)


#52

No, no, like @aleph_c says I’m just saying we must be realistic and temper our expectations.

This is why I proposed small stuff with tangible benefits like beginner guides. They are not flashy, but they address the root of the problem and are actually achieveable.

Erm, I haven’t missed that aspect. In fact, I’ve written about those barriers on practically all my posts here. In fact, your whole post seems to be in agreement with what I’ve said on the thread :confused:


#53

It is my first post here. Actually this thread was what made me register and reply, so… hello everyone.

My boyfriend and I started playing Netrunner as a couple in 2013. I remember it was summer, we took the cards with us while going on holidays and we played quite a lot. Then we learned that there were Netrunner players in the boardgame community we were a part of, and so we started playing with other people too. They were all very friendly and playing with them was fun - and yet when one of them decided to hold a small tournament at the place we usually played, nothing official, just for the same folks as always, I was too afraid to go with my partner. What was I afraid of? That I, being a new player, might play poorly. Make silly mistakes. Perhaps end up the last. I do realize that all of them are plausible scenarios for an inexperienced player and people still go to tournaments, get defeated and accept it as a part of learning rather than feel humiliated. But I am a woman, and I was afraid that people (the same nice people) would expect me to fail and I wouldn’t be able to prove them wrong. I was afraid of “…and the last one is, well, the girl.”

It took me - I’m not sure now - at least 3 tournaments to decide to participate. The one I took part in was a part of a boardgame convention. There were even more people, some of them I didn’t know, but it turned out that: 1. all of them were still nice, 2. some of them were also new, made mistakes, lost games, 3. there was another Netrunner couple, I played against the woman. Nothing of the stuff I had feared ever happened. I ended up somewhere in the middle of the table.

4 years later, I consider myself somewhat a hardcore Netrunner player at least compared to other female players I know. I have since encountered everything from my list and more (including a salty and misogynistic player in our very own local meta), but I’m feeling so comfortable as a player that I no longer care as much. I stopped feeling the pressure to prove a point as a woman, instead I’m proving it as a player and as a person. I feel that I’m a respected member of the community; if I lose people ask me whether I’m having a bad day, as they would ask anyone else, and nobody makes fun of it.

I asked my best friend, who identifies herself as a casual player and often skips local meetings or tournaments: if you choose not to attend a tournament, what are the reasons? She said: the game is hard and I feel I’m not good enough.

I think we have a combination of two factors here: the game is difficult, and also there’s the patriarchal message that women encounter all the time “you are worse than men.” This might be the reason why losing female players feel discouraged and “not good enough”, while losing male players simply strive to improve. And also feeling lost if there are no fellow women: it’s much easier for a man to join a player group on his own than it is for a woman.

Sorry for a lengthy post :slight_smile:


#54

Welcome - and thank you for sharing your experience. There’s a ton of good stuff in there to unpack …


#55

I feel like this is the key.

I’m interested in this topic, but I see no good solutions. The best I’ve seen is the idea of PubRunner, simply because it takes place away from the male-dominated Game Store atmosphere. The issue is that non-CWM don’t feel comfortable at game stores currently, by stereotypical representation alone, and it doesn’t matter how much effort we make to create a pleasant atmosphere, that stigma of the Game Store as being a ‘Guys Only’ clubhouse will prevail.

Further, the problem is compounded because of what Luiloth pointed out, both from her own experience and from her best friend’s: They feel a pressure to perform, that ‘failing’ reinforces negative stereotypes. If I could have one wish, it would be that Losing is not seen as a huge negative. I wish that the fear of failure was never a reason to show up to a tournament, but it is, and is a large reason for several people I know, both CWM and not.

One of the other ways to promote diversity is to have a ‘Minority Only’ tournament or event. The problem is managing to advertise that. The other problem I have with this is that needing to have them at all is a problem. But I feel they’re the best actionable solution to the problem. (What I mean by this is that, ideally, we wouldn’t even be talking about this, the numbers would be properly proportional, and this sort of outreach would be unnecessary because our normal tournaments look diverse. But they don’t, so we do need this sort of outreach.)

Despite being cliche, I don’t care who or what you are. If you want to play Netrunner, if this Cyperpunk game looks interesting, or this Asymmetric Customizable Deck game looks interesting, I want you to play it and to have fun. I want my daughter to play once she’s old enough to read the cards instead of eating them. I’ve taught both guys and girls, anyone who’s willing to point at the box and say ‘Hey, what’s that?’

The final thing I can think of to increase diversity is to have more prominent diverse figures. The only non-CWM figures in Netrunner that I can think of for strategic content are Hollis Eacho, Dien Tranh (might be misspelling), and Timmy Wong. I also think of Ran, but that’s more because I’ve met her and spoken with her a bit, she doesn’t actually produce much in the way of strategic content. Alexis (who runs the Facebook group) and Leigh (who I’ve heard on Terminal7 a couple times and wrote a Novella) I also think of, but not for strategic content. Podcasts, tournament wins/placements (again, Ran shows up here as the highest Weyland at Worlds, iirc) or just articles/forum posts here would all help to increase visibility, and I think would contribute to a more welcoming atmosphere.

My feelings on this are complex, but I know that I want this game to be a place where my daughter could go without discomfort, so I’m interested in making that happen.


#56

No, no, don’t worry, it was a great post!

I actually started playing the game with a friend who felt similarly. She felt she might not be experienced enough and play too slow or poorly, to the annoyance of other players. For a long time we struggled to remember what each card did or how much they costed so out games lasted long.

So it is a very common position to find oneself in!


#57

With permission from the original poster, I’m sharing this post from the Reddit thread in which this discussion was publicised.

There’s an irony that, in a game that’s actually super great at having a really diverse range of named characters when there’s note on extending that out into meatspace there are people who go “but whyyyyyyy? :(”

I am pretty used to being the only non-white person (and previously non-straight person but my current gaming communities are pretty great about that) in a nerd community, but I don’t want others to go through that if they don’t need to.

To which end I feel bad I don’t participate in GNKs and the like any more. Not because I would be good -I’m still garbage at this game - but if showing up might make the space comfortable for someone else, I should do it.

A suggestion for those who have ties to an LGS, maybe have Netrunner as part of a wider event. Learn a Card Game day or SciFi Games Day can be a great way to get people who are interested in adjacent nerd shit into this nerd shit. A handful of queer and non-male nerd friends of mine have heard of Netrunner and were intrigued but hadn’t played before. Making those entry level sessions easily available rather than focusing on the GNK environ might be a better tactic.

On a side note the “Be the change you want to see and organise your own events” thought is not inherently wrong, but double-edged. Of those who have the enthusiasm to see a change don’t all have the skills and resources to execute that by themselves. Also, to place the burden entirely on minorities to forge their own spaces while straight white dudes can have things organised for them by default for free is, frankly, bullshit.


#58

One suggestion that’s been discussed elsewhere is that we support the running of an online worldwide WNB tournament - this could be either league-based, with finals for the top 4 (ie, a WNB SHL), or a single day jinteki.net tournament. Is this something that people would be interested in taking part in?


#59

Further rumination on this topic:

I attended a convention over the weekend, and was struck that I actually saw a balance among attendees, that it didn’t feel like there were guys everywhere, or only whites, or whatever. It felt like a good balance between all peoples.

And I wonder how that happened. The best answer I can figure is that it became more socially acceptable to go to ‘nerd’ conventions, so thus more people came to them. I think we’re still slowly becoming more socially acceptable to go out for a night of board+card gaming, instead of a night drinking at a pub. Thus, the chief component of increasing diversity is Time. (Not that we should sit around and wait for it to happen…)


#60

I would definitely be interested in participating in such a tournament.


#61

One thing that I think would be good is its important to make sure there are visible diverse voices in the Netrunner community.

One aspect of this are the articles about Netrunner, specifically on Stimhack. As the self proclaimed editor in chief of Stimhack I’d like to invite anyone who’d like to to contribute articles, content, or really any amount of work to Stimhack articles. Its a very friendly process, and we basically will publish anything by anyone who has an idea and works to develop it into a full article, and we can help edit and form ideas (I’d basically be unpublished if it wasn’t for all the people who help edit and form my content). And if writing a full article sounds to intimidating, the pack reviews we do are easy to get involved in, all you need to do is have an opinion on one card in a set and write it down! If that’s too much we can also always use more people to just hang around and chat about ideas (we’re pretty informal).

How do I get involved? There are two ways:

  1. The main place of discussion is on the stimhack slack in the #stimhack-articles channel, so join that for sure!
  2. If you want to write something and don’t want to join the slack or that channel, feel free to PM me any ideas you have (the answer will be yes, this is a great idea please write this)

I hope to see more people get involved as we can always use more content and having written several articles I find its a fun process to turn a half baked idea into something complete and legible that people tell you they liked!


#62

@SimonMoon Solid input! I’d also make the suggestion that if you’re writing an article which is going to use input from the community, consider explicitly reaching out to people who are in the minority here and asking for their ideas/comments/suggestions on a topic that you’re going to be covering.