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The best definition in regards to humour I've yet heard is that it's `the ability to take the ordinary by surprise.' This gives you the first rule of being funny: keep it to `the ordinary' so everyone is given a frame of reference. And it gives us the second rule: `surprise' because `from behind' is for an entirely different audience. Take it to heart, take it to dinner, but don't always take it too seriously.

Hi. I'm Meera Barry, often known as MaBarry. Infamous in a number of circles, outlawed in many, but don't let my notoriety scare you away. I'm really not like that...except sometimes, when I am.

Let's get the first thing people notice about me out of the way. Erm, actually, let's get the... fourth? Well, however you number it, it's something that causes a lot of fuss when I go to actual gaming events.

Yes. I'm female.

Whew. Well, I'm glad that's over with...because it has just gotten silly. People e-mailing at all hours of the day and night, seeking me out as a representative of my gender. `How'dya like dem pumped-up bosoms on da cover of dat last gaming supplement?' they ask. Or, `Do you think wimmen find it tougher to game with da boys?'

See, women gamers are just like men except...well, you know. Can you name one thing besides their gender that's exclusively true of women gamers? Heck, can you name one for men? (I can for cats. Cat gamers without doubt will curl up on character sheets left unattended, and will occasionally try for those red d10s. That's a different story.)

We're not fooled. Your attempts to bring women into the business (and not just those growly little grrrrlz) are a sensitive new-age style stud point in your favour. Opening up the market is smart business sense... but don't think we all really care about the busty bikini-clad barbarianas. After all, it's not like the latest issue of supermarket scandal we might pick up doesn't have even more of the skimpy splendors.

So, in trying to make the industry a better place, I recommend a bit of honesty. We don't want more WOMEN in gaming. We want more BABES. (Hunks, too, if you're feeling excluded.) We want to be marketable to that young prime-time demographic...after all, who wants to watch bouncy bubbly blondes bob on the beach when they can also have cool CGI-inspired dragons? (Or battleships. Or 4-colourfully clad supervillians?)

Well, alright. You might not want to lick the heels of white-booted catwomen mage-smiths, but...well, I know where I'm casting my vote. And my money for the action figures.

You already know that gaming is funny. When I say `funny,' I'm packing a lot of the meanings into that word. It's...funny, because what do we do? We sit around talking like we're people from another sphere of existence. (And for those of you who belong to occult groups where that's the norm, that's...still pretty funny. Not quite a thigh-slapper, but definitely a high eyebrow-raise on the physical scale of response to humour. If you roll a 00, you get two responses. Maybe a grunting laugh and a...nevermind. Back to the subject.)

Gamer humour, however, doesn't depend on that. That's...the ordinary. You're not looking askew at it. You're not approaching what may seem to be odd to those not initiated in the rites of the Order of Attributes and Rulebooks...you're just homing in on the usual. Gamer humour, then, has to be more specific, more special.

We have books with humourous tone and intent. Paranoia (however dark, always funny.) Teenagers From Outer Space. Ghostbusters. Feng Shui. Call of C'thulhu. I love the parodies, and, well, my little sister can do one awesome Bark Like a Kobold, if you know the reference.

Are the games funny? Well, what makes a session of Men In Black any more amusing than the first combat we did in Earthdawn trying not to die from a pack of so-called *normal* rats?

I hope to be able to toss some theories around, tell a few stories, reveal the latest in a long string of odd gaming thoughts, and overall have a good time.

We'll see.

What do you think?

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