I've been reading the Warhammer Fantasy Battle army books, and I must say it's been fun. I enjoy immersing myself in a new world, and the more fleshed out the better. But one thing I noticed almost immediately was the exclusive use of male pronouns in the text, and that stuck out at me. Dungeons & Dragons has alternated between male and female pronouns since 3rd Edition was released in 2000 and Magic: The Gathering has always used "he or she" or "his or her" to refer to the player since its inception in 1993; as such, I've come to view gender-inclusive language as the rule rather than the exception, and coming across exclusive use of "he", "his", and "him" in a game book published in 2007 put me off.
It's not just that, though - Games Workshop seems to go out of its way to exclude female characters in the game world, too. In 40K, apparently the process for creating Space Marines just doesn't work on women, making them an all-male fighting force. In Fantasy Battle, female Skaven are neither sentient nor even humanoid - they're just giant rats for the males to mate with. Greenskins in both settings reproduce asexually, though they all happen to look male and individuals are referred to with male pronouns. And all that kinda bugs me.
Which is not to say that it's a barren wasteland for women, of course. As the article I linked to notes, the Sisters of Battle in 40K are an all-female army that wear sensible armor and aren't a horde of man-hating feminazis (God I hate that word). The various Elves and Eldar factions in both games get lots of female models. According to the tie-in novels, the Imperial Guard in 40K is co-ed (good luck finding any female soldier models, though). So, given that Games Workshop obviously doesn't actively hate women and includes them in some capacity in their game universes, it's mystifying that they aren't more accommodating of female players.
And this isn't just political correctness on my part, either. It's just a poor business model. Sure, sticking to gender-exclusive language may help assure the most immature players in their market that Warhammer is a boys' club, but if they suddenly stopped playing in protest if gender-inclusive language were adopted, would that be such a big loss? As we've seen in the RPG sector over the last decade, women can be gamers too, and as long as GW writes exclusively to a male audience, there's a big untapped market they're simply ignoring. And that's just bad business.
I've been reading up about the Warhammer miniatures game, which I find kinda interesting. By which I mean the original Warhammer Fantasy Battle, not the sci-fi Warhammer 40,000 spinoff, which I honestly don't like much at all. 40K's main faction, the Imperium, is basically Nazi Germany cranked up to 11, with its god-emperor and its genetically engineered "master race" of Space Marines, yet it's portrayed as this good and heroic beacon of light, and the whole thing just turns me off. On the other hand, that kind of militarism doesn't bother me as much in Fantasy Battle's pseudo-Dark Ages setting, and the fact that it takes itself far less seriously is a big plus - I've heard it described as equal parts Tolkien, Moorcock, and Monty Python, and I'd say that about fits.
That said, I have neither the money nor the inclination to buy what amounts to an army of dolls that don't even come pre-painted. It would be cool if I could find some kind of shareware similar to Magic Workstation that lets you build your own virtual armies and play online, though.
Welcome to my comfy little hobbit-hole on the web! A 24-year-old slacker in Springfield, Massachusetts. Considering going to art school to work towards a career in animation. Likes role-playing games, fantasy novels, cartoons, and comic books. Lovably ineffectual. I pretty much just use this weblog to post about pop culture stuff that I'm into.