Feeling Shut Down
Krista and I were talking about a recent game of Mortal Coil (posted as Arthurian Enthusiasm on the Forge by Michael Miller), and she mentioned that she felt I, as GM, was shutting down her contributions in the game. There is some history to this, both on my side and on her side.
Krista has suffered several complete sexist shut-outs in role-playing situations before, she has shared this with me. The guys playing the game derided or ignored any contributions she tried to make, and I don't think this is a unique experience among gaming women. I think she still carries a lot of this around, and when someone contradicts her in a game, this all comes up.
For my part, as a GM I try to take an even hand. I can also be abrupt, especially when dealing with seven players like I was that Friday. Because of my attempt at fairness, I think I might have gone overboard trying to avoid giving special privilege to my own wife. I know I have done that before.
I am not so sure about this time, because Krista, and Jason, who ended up helping her with her character, got to the game late, and missed a couple of crucial details. I think this contributed, because the first couple of things Krista tried to do contradicted things that Kat had done and established earlier, and I was concerned that Kat's contributions not get trampled on. Krista told me later that me cutting off those things really caused her to pull back in the game, and she didn't feel like she engaged the story because she was hesitant to try to add anything after.
It's a rough balance, and I really don't like offending people or making them feel marginalized, and even in a game like Mortal Coil where there is a lot of player contribution to the game, the GM still has a role as moderator, if only because he has the most information at the table. Talking it out helps, but I didn't even realize that Krista was feeling this way while we played, and that makes it really hard for me to deal with at the table.