Being a Girl Gamer (And Treating One Right)
Though females have been involved in gaming for quite a while now, it can still feel very much like a "man's world" when one gets into collectible gaming. As a girl gamer myself, I have been by turns appreciated and treated condescendingly by even the most well-meaning young men; they can be pleasantly surprised by my strategy and yet brush me aside when I try to talk about the metagame.
For girls seeking ways to become part of a local comics and collectibles scene, or for people who want to properly welcome a girl gamer into their midst, I offer a few tips from experience:
Tips for the New Girl Gamer
You can most definitely maintain who you are without being dubbed too "girly" for the gaming environment. In fact, your sincere gamer friends will appreciate you more if you behave naturally. You don't have to dress up or dress down for the game shop, you don't have to pretend to like everything the others like, AND you don't have to be a perfect representative of the female gender (like I used to think I had to be).
Speak up about rulings you don't understand or that you think are incorrect.
Especially during tournaments, don't let shame hinder you from asking pertinent questions. Ask the judge of the game about the ruling in question, referring back to the game as necessary, and don't worry about what other players say--play by what the judge says. This shows that you're a reasonable, level-headed player who is interested in playing the game correctly.
Dare to build different.
Even if the other people in your local game shop are trying to help you learn the game better, they might get carried away and try to make you play a carbon-copy of their style of gaming. Keep to your own personal flavor; if you like the style of Black/Red in Magic, for instance, don't let somebody tell you that White/Green might be more your style because you're female. (But if you like White/Green, don't let somebody talk you into building Black/Red because you'll win more tournaments.) Establishing your personal gaming style is key to your enjoyment of the game, no matter what anybody else might think about said style.
Tips for Treating a New Girl Gamer Right
Make positive conversation.
Ask the new girl about her favorite games--learn what cards and minis she likes. If she wants to talk about her gaming style more, let her; if she prefers to listen, then you can tntroduce her to some of the other guys and girls at the shop and/or talk about your favorite card/figure, etc. This will help her feel more comfortable in an environment which is familiar to you but very new for her.
Invite her into a group game.
Help a girl gamer feel included by inviting her to play with "the gang"--it lets her know that she's equal in importance and that you value her participation. Group games of M:TG, Clix, or SWMinis are more casual and friendly than intense one-on-one games. Participating in group games also allows her to observe how the others in the shop get along together so that she knows more of how to fit in.
Check out her strategies and sincerely appreciate them.
Ask if you can look at her decks or her teams of figures--not as if you're about to suggest ways she can improve upon using them, but just to look through. Expressing interest in her style of gaming is a great way to make any girl gamer feel more at home. Who knows, she might have discovered a combo you overlooked!
Ask about her trade stuff.
She might have a ton of stuff to trade, and she might not, but just asking shows her that you're interested in interacting with her as a fellow gamer. But be fair with her if you do trade with her--for instance, I've run into some unscrupulous young men who think that just because I'm a chick, I don't know what that Wrath of God is going for on eBay. Treat her as you would any other gamer--with respect.