X-Wing, Community, and Loneliness

Hey there friendos, I thought I’d introduce myself.

I’m Samantha and I’ll be writing this guest post for Rogue Outpost! I’m an Aussie X-winger and all-around nerd. Usually, the content on here will focus on ships or tactics, but that isn’t what I’m here to talk about. I’d like to talk about loneliness and burnout, particularly for women in the wargaming community. You’ve probably noticed at your local stores, or at tournaments, that women aren’t exactly that common in X-Wing communities. Maybe you’ve wondered why this is, or thought to yourself ‘How can I get more women involved in the community?’ Well, I’m hoping we can shed some light on these questions.

To begin with, I need to cast my eyes all the back to my childhood, I got involved in wargaming because my younger brother started collecting Warhammer Fantasy and 40k. I watched him paint minis and play against school friends, I was very interested in this. So I picked up some basic space marines and painted them up as Ultramarines. The reasons for this aren’t particularly important. But this sparked an instant obsession with the game and hobby. I would occasionally tag along to GW stores or play against my brother’s friends. It wasn’t long before we were playing at home and having a grand time.

High school came and went, I encountered many difficulties and due to lots of personal stuff I decided to walk away from wargaming, I was getting more into video gaming anyway and it didn’t involve painting minis. Shortly after this, I started playing tabletop RPGs which had a more female and queer-friendly scene and I made a few close friends who are still with me today.

Till one day I was invited by somebody on Facebook to come check out a FLGS (friendly local game store), I was going in to maybe play Warmachine or Infinity. But I was immediately drawn to a bunch of people playing with little plastic Star Wars spaceships. Being a huge nerd, Star Wars was and continues to be a big part of my life. The gameplay looked intriguing, and I had a demo straight away. I then found out you didn’t need to paint and assemble, I was hooked.

But I did notice that aside from the woman behind the counter, I was the only woman in the store. I wasn’t put off by this at the time because I was too busy having fun. Those guys I played with then are pretty much all playing today.

So I’ve been playing X-Wing since about wave 3 of 1st edition, feels like forever ago. And yet I am still the only woman in my state who plays. I mean I will make the conceit that I live in one of the most isolated cities on the planet but my point still stands. I was at the 2018 Nationals and 2019 System Open, I went 4-2 on both events. The second event had 350 people in attendance and afterward, we made a count. I met up with a few other women at the event and there were 5 of us. Out of 350.

I’ve been lucky to be in contact with a few other women who play, but they are all over east. My attempts to introduce my friends to the game were hampered by something inevitable. None of them wanted to play because they felt it was too much of a ‘boys club’. It’s hard to keep up with that and a majority male population is often off-putting, the question of course being asked is ‘Why should I play in a group with nobody like me?’.

I’m a fairly egalitarian person, though I will admit the vast majority of my friends are men, mainly due to my interests. It leads me to a certain point of burnout. It’s been seven years, and I’m still the only woman in my hobby group. I love playing X-Wing. I go to various local game stores, I attend tournaments and I think I’m a relatively good player. But I’m getting tired. Tired of seeing nobody like myself and tired of trying to keep up with men who while not exclusionary, don’t quite include me because ‘I’m not one of the boys’. I always feel at a distance. The one-on-one conversations go fine, and people are always friendly towards me, but once all of the guys arrive it’s like I’m suddenly invisible. And it makes me SO tired.

We need to cherish our communities and build them together, and if we aren’t finding ways to make others feel included and at home in our hobby then we’ve failed on that mission. I’ve done it, though not with X-Wing. We hosted a local women’s board gaming group at an LGS and my house a few times and it was very successful because the people there felt included and seen.

This is what we need for X-Wing, a way for minorities to WANT to play in our hobby, to feel seen, and to come to fall in love with the delicious brain candy that X-Wing is. Honestly even I’m not sure what the solution is, but we do need to be doing better, to be encouraging women and girls to play this game and even create communities of their own.

Whatever the future holds for X-Wing, I am certain that it can only be improved with the inclusion of minorities in the hobby.


Thanks, Samantha! If you want to hear (and see) more from her then visit her YouTube channel.

From a personal point of view, having lived in the Brighton area for nearly seven years now and having many female and queer friends this stuff is super important to me. If you want to share any stories or promote local groups then get in touch and I’ll help where I can.

8 Comments

  1. What would you want me to do if I were in a room with you? I say hi, smile, GLHF, then play. Repeat, go home.

    Is it after-activity? Or is a different type of communication or topic? I am curious….

    I have found (having 3 girls, wife, friends, friends of friends, etc) that due to either psychological reasons I don’t understand or maybe just my associations (maybe?), or some other factors, including the ones you propose, that there seems to be a general lack of interest in war gaming among females I know. Not “well I’d play if….” But I mean like ZERO interest and general tolerance towards it like towards a child’s past time. No offense to anyone who doesn’t like it.

    As far as being welcoming…. I mean, see above. “Hey cool, like your list, GLHF, I’m set…” male/female/orientation/online/IRL … all pretty similar.

    AM I BORING??? Ahhhhh!!!! 😱

    • I think your first paragraph there covers it.

      The wider issue is, I think, is getting to a point where the balance of people is more…balanced. For example, a woman comes in and sees women playing already so doesn’t have to gee herself up to face a group of men (however friendly).

      I’m simplifying of course.

  2. I’ve bounced around to different wargames since like, middle school? There is this holding pattern of men behaving themselves, and then a shithead makes everyone uncomfortable but particularly the women (or woman) and the men in the group don’t hold the shithead at all accountable, and then I flee to a different wargame, expecting the behavior to somehow be different because I love wargaming.

    First- it isnt the shitheads that push me out- I dress rather dyke-y so I’m used to men being shitheads/am a woman so am used to men being shitheads.

    The thing that pushes me out is the lack of action that “good” men take in response. One of your friend keeps making misogynistic comments, or is harassing a player? Maybe buy them a drink and have a heart to heart on their behavior, and if any non-men have been exposed check in with them on how theyre feeling and ask them what can be done to make them feel like people have their back. Maybe tell your friend that theyre not welcome at tournaments or every other week of casual play(to allow women regulars to come by in a safe environment every other week) until their behavior has changed.

    Second: this just makes me seek out queer people and women to play with and form our own groups. Which, you know, isnt too bad but requires you to live somewhere that that is feasible, generally a city.

  3. I have to say I disagree. A particularly bad frat at my college had leadership that thought if they recruited more women the problem would fix itself. You can guess how that went.

    I feel like that works to illustrate the nature of the problem. There are definitely cultural forces that tell women not to join frats, and the leadership picked up on that, but they were blind to problems that existed within their community that made it hostile.

    Just like the occasional frat gal, women are already in gaming. Teach men how to treat nonmen like people, how to hold each other accountable, and to have our back when the (and Im stereotyping here) magic the gathering players come over to our table and we will notice and maybe suggest your group to our friends.

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