Time Machine: 'Imagine' Editorial #5

Michael O. Varhola

Apparently in the 1980s the linguistic and cultural differences between Americans and Brits were so profound that Dungeons & Dragons publisher TSR needed a U.K. division that had its own answer to "Dragon," the slim and short-lived "Imagine Adventure Games Magazine." Following is the odd and defensive little editorial from issue #5 (August 1983), written by Editorial Assistant Kim Daniel, who seems to be preoccupied with gender issues that were only more prevalent in the game industry 30 years ago. For my part, I am perfectly willing to adopt the term "Dungeon Mistress" ...

An advantage of of being the person who typesets much of this magazine is that one has the opportunity to sneak in something just before it is sent off to the printer — so I've taken over the editorial column! 

First I must offer an apology on behalf of the men. The lack of text on the Steve Jackson Advertisement for Flying Buffalo on page 30 of #3 was entirely the fault of this magazine. You will find it in full on page 29 of this issue. Our apologies to Flying Buffalo; we hope they forgive us. 

One reader took exception to the "platitudinous" idea in the Editorial of #3 — taking our comment out of context, I might add — that we should try not to offend anyone. The context was sex, so this month let's talk about sex. The female sex ...

A woman coming fresh to this hobby feels somewhat excluded. Women are provided for in TSR's games rules (the USA being more sex-egalitarian than the U.K.), but the language belies the truth — look at "Dungeon/Games Master," and all the him- and his-ing that goes on in the articles we receive. Merely a convention of speech, you may say — but if that's true then why are the articles about nurses, secretaries, and teachers full of she and her? No doubt about it, your average gamer is expected to be male. And it's clear that most gamers are: attend any convention, visit any club or hobby shop, and most of those present will be male. 

But why should this be? Perhaps it stems from the roots in wargames. War is traditionally a man's game, so it follows that the simulation of war is, too. There's a theory in sociological circles that war only becomes acceptable while the women remain at home to be "defended" ... However, if wargamers are mostly pacific people, as [ Imagine Publisher] Don Turnbull asserted last month, such considerations should not be prohibitive to women. And if, as common mythology has it, women are artful and cunning dissemblers, then surely we should be god tacticians and role-players? 

Eureka! I get it — women must be excluded from gaming because otherwise we might beat men at that game too. It's obvious!