Ladies Of Leisure

Every now and then it’s fun to look back through our 135 years of archives, and pull out a post that time might otherwise forget. Today we’re taking a look at one of our oldest posts from 1873, when we decided it was time to tackle the issues of women and gameing.

Look, our website has yellowed with age.

Recent reports have shown that an ever increasing number of young ladies are partaking in the activity of gameing. We took it upon ourselves to investigate this unlikely phenomenon.

Pray, imagine the scenario. Whilst walking down the street you see a young child gaily rolling a hoop, tapping away with his stick, and merrily laughing. But what is this? His laughter seems of a higher pitch than you might otherwise expect. Can it be? Those are not trousers, but a skirt! This street rascal is a young lady, and she’s playing a game.

It might strike you as the very height of the absurd, but spend any amount of time outside of your door today, or even in the parlours of the well-to-do, and you will likely spy a girl engaging in the pursuit of gameing.

These young ladies llook as though they are coping. But are they?

So how can this be? It has always been accepted amongst the gentry that a young lady’s hands are too frail and dainty to become involved with games, and the dexterity involved far too complex for the feminine mind. But are these assumptions to be thought false? Could it really be that playing games is something of which young ladies are to be considered capable?

In our effort to discover the truth, we invited a group of ladies to join us in an afternoon’s multiple person game of Blind Man’s Buff. It seemed improper for a lady to play the part of the Blind Man, so rather our print boy, Quintin, had his vision obscured by a gentleman’s neckerchief, and the remaining group of both gentlemen and ladies scattered to the corners of our scullery.

Perhaps we need not tell you of the unseemly scenes that followed. In his enthusiasm for the game, Quintin swung his arms wildly the air, groping in pursuit of his foils, and we will save you the blushes of the results.

As you can see, Quintin was quite out of control.

It seemed to our minds that despite the implied willingness to participate with gameing, the ladies were not in any position to compete alongside the men. One young lady in our company hooked her cuff on a loose nail, and her sleeve was quite ruined.

However, we are will to consider the possibility that perhaps it is us who is outdated. The ladies who visited our web-quarters that afternoon expressed that it had been pleasurable, despite our doubts. Some even claimed to have already learned the rules to last 1871’s Snakes And Ladders, although time was too short to put this to the test.

So will the gameing industry have to change in response? Will we soon be seeing the streets filled with games of Blind Woman’s Buff? It is quite a time we live in.

We take a look at three of the games that young ladies are apparently playing.

Snakes And Ladders
Jaques of London
1870, 92%

Surely the snakes are too frightening for girls?

The adaptation of the classic Indian Dasapada (200BC, 75%) updates the Sanskrit chess board to the all new rungs and fangs action with which we are now so familiar. We are told that ladies are playing it in drawing rooms all across the south of England.

Jacob’s Ladder
Pilgrim Enterprises
1622, 88%

Very modern looking, those Victorian toys.

While dating back to the 15th century, there’s no question that Jacob’s Ladder has never been bigger than right now. The click-clacking can be heard in the halls of every orphanage, and you’d be mistaken to think that some of those playing weren’t female. Even the Puritans will let their daughters play.

Hoop & Stick 2
Hooping Kauf
1864, 84%

Look again - might it be a young lady?

Taking the Ancient Grecian concept and revolutionising it by replacing the wooden hoop with a metal one, Hoop & Stick is back in a big way. While assumed far too physical to attract girls, and with very few pink hoops in production, we have seen a number of ladies taking part.


  1. MisterBritish says:

    Meh, I prefered Hoop & Stick 1, metal is far too main-stream.

  2. Andrew says:

    Dear Editor,

    I write to you regarding your article: “Ladies of Leisure”.

    By jove! By the love of Chimney Sweeps! They’re coming for games! When will the madness end?

    Yet you leave out my favourite pastime Dominoes!

    Blasphemy on you sir! This game should be rated much more highly then these armature games, especially my new “Domino 3” set, which comes in fine ivory from recently killed African Elephants shipped here only a day previous! It came with a useful miniature Ivory helmet, perfect for ones hound!

    Yet you care to review the common muck of Hoop and Stick? This kind of pandering to the general lower class public is why The Times mocks Rock Paper Shotgun openly and loudly, sir!

    You sir are no reviewer I would care to partake of again, and I will take my tophat-wearing self elsewhere unless this mistake be turned about!

    However, I did partake of a chuckle at the jokes, you sir, are a good toff at heart, if only you had reviewed my favourites, I would not be so angry!

    Yours regardedly,

    Sir Lord Rediculous Pophatlardedar the Third, esq. eunuch, commander-at-arms

  3. Aimless says:

    I’m surprised there was no mention of contemporary darling Porthole; everyone enjoyed a rousing singsong after each game. Good times.

  4. someone says:

    The % review scores for the games was a cute touch.

  5. Andrew says:

    Back in a more civilised time of %’s rather then .5 scores out of 10 eh? :)

  6. Meat Circus says:

    Chairman Roflmao wants it to be known that he approves of this article, what what.

  7. terry says:


    May I respectfully ask why your esteemed organ did not cover the latest invention of the Far East, “Peg and Ball Fevere”? I believe it is influential enough in some circles to be utilised as an informal measurement of mass.

    I remain, where appropriate,

    Sir Terry*

    *Your statutory rights are not affected.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Who gave you guys a copy of The Chap. I want names do you hear me?

  9. Thos. Armitage Esq. says:

    Sirs –

    congratulations on a fine piece of investigative journalism. However, it seems strange to note the omission of the popular entertainment that is Bagatelle, especially in its latest incarnations, Bagatelle Dreams and Bagatelle Fantasies – arguably the greatest wooden renditions of the game to date. It requires a small amount of manual dexterity and little strength, and as such seems well suited to these “ladies” of which you speak.

  10. Stick says:

    *swoons, albeit in a mannley waye*

  11. Pace says:


    I dare say, your very suggestion that “ladies” should engage in such behavior I find rude and obscene! Perhaps for the scoundrel that lurk the streets, the ragamuffin who haven’t a penny to her name would engage in such “gameing”. A proper lady however should have no part in these shenanigans.

    Lord Phillip of Basingstokeshireville upon anon

  12. Lunaran says:

    They’ll be calling for suffrage before long.

  13. Leeks! says:

    Thank you, Mr Walker. Thank you so much.

    Having just finished Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel mere hours ago, this was pretty much exactly what I wanted to read at the exact moment I opened the electric internet browser.

  14. ryan in exile says:

    Needs more shatranj!

    anyone read gentlemen of the road (or Jews With Swords) yet?

  15. Scandalon says:

    Thank you all, kind sirs, for an article both enlightening and amusing. Indeed, you provided my first genuine guffaw and Out-Loud-Laughter in a fortnight. I fear though that my lovely wife might not quite approve (though she’d keep such thoughts to herself, obviously) of the rough subject matter in your pursuit of humour. Why, though I love her dearly, I do admit to some fear she might even get it into her head to attempt some of this “women-gaming” herself! Normally, of course, I would have little such fear, but I’ve seen some evidence she has picked up a little of the habits of reading, and perhaps even entertaining notions in that pretty little head of hers that I have not approved! While we do indeed live in a wonderous time, all great things have their side that is dark, and if we are not careful, dark times lie ahead…

    As for the gentleman that referenced J.S. and N, please do not utter that name again, at least not with it’s un-deserved “Mr.” Unfortunately my paths crossed with N. whilst I and my family were vactioning in Italy, and let me tell you, while I don’t think him quite a scoundrel, and perhaps he had nobility, of a sort, at one time, he is a singularly disagreeable man.

    Cautiously optimistic –
    Desmond R.J. Underwood Frederick II

  16. elias says:

    A worthy treatise, though I feel compelled to bring light to a small mistake. 1622 was in the seventeenth century.

  17. Filipe says:

    They nerfed the stick in Hoop and Stick 2. Thankfully the modding community has already been working on an unofficial patch.

  18. Lunaran says:

    E-Sport Hoop and Challenge Mode Stick Professional 2k8.

  19. FaceOmeter says:

    Dear Mr. Walker,

    I write to you viz. my new steam powered arithmetic device, the “Comp-Puter” which greatly velocitates the process of calculation. By bringing the full force of this machine to bear and adding some power derived from the sun by the means of a series of lenses, I believe I have found a way to turn the popular board game “Crysis” into an interactive phonogram-enhanced leisure activity.

    Some call me mad, but I believe that one day every desk will posess one of these “comp puters”, even though my early model is beset with difficulties – such as the fact that it is slightly bigger than Lancashire. Button mashing is also a problem given the typewriter interface, but perhaps one day someone will dare to concieve an electronical apparatus that does justice to the game without frequent errors, graphics processing issues and [cont. p.94]

    speaking of which, way to go at the Mail on Sunday John, you’re my new hero

  20. DigitalSignalX says:


    Regarding the authorship of

    “consider the possibility that perhaps it is us who is outdated”

    I would suggest that those few gentlemen with a keen eye for studying the behavior of women have, in fact, been very long aware of the extent to which women have been playing games. It is only now, in this golden age of technology, do we see their joyful manipulations of events to suit their pleasure take on the playful forms we as more simple men can easily identify. Diversions such as the titles you have thus mentioned as well as more fiendish pursuits such as playing cards, jacks, Splinter Cell, and even dice are now more and more accessible across the genders. Such revolution may very well be both a blessing and a curse, as technology allows women newfound ways to explore entertainment for themselves. I worry that men may soon be left out of the equation all together!

    Respectfully yours,
    Duke Sigfried Xavier

  21. Piratepete says:


    I feel I must right in response to your article that indeed the weaker sex are quite capable, through correct education and grooming of course, of the complex mathematical calculations required for some games of strategem.

    Indeed, my good lady wife and i regularly partook in games of ‘Annelida’ a few years in the past. Initially she became excitable at this new found pastime, but, with due diligence on my part, she soon calmed herself and became quite an accomplished player in her own right.

    Of course I allowed to to beat me at a few rounds of said game merely to shore up her confidence, nonetheless I found myself challenged by her unusal and naive strategems on more than one occasion.

    Now with child I have banned such parlour games less it affect the children, which should, of course, be her only priority. My point, Mr Walker, is that the female mind may be trained, over an extended period of time of course, to be quite capable of parlour games. Much in the same way as a dog may be trained to fetch ones slippers of an evening. Therefore it would not be fair of you to treat all of the weaker sex like some form of common baggage, or flibberty gibbits, as found, say, on the streets of our fine capital.

    (PS: if she reads this i am fooked)


  22. StolenName says:

    I don’t know what’s better. Your article, or the letters responding to it!

  23. Nicholas Mailer says:

    “consider the possibility that perhaps it is us who is outdated”

    I shall, sir, allow no jot of a possibility that the nominative predicative case is ‘outdated’. Your misdeclined accusative deems you worthy of a thrashing; your erratic conjugation therewith the very gallows.

    I remain, sir, your faithful servant,

    Sir Algenon Blandishment

  24. Nelson says:

    Sir —

    I have received your Issue of the 23rd inst. and wish to register the following Opinion, that allowing the Female Sex to indulge in frivolous Games shall surely lead to the moral downfall of our bless’d Civilisation. While it has been remarked, that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, and many hours’ practice playing “Big Game Hunter,” “Stalker,” &c. served this correspondent well at the Siege of Delhi in ’57, a proper Lady of Virtue spends her time in contemplation of Womanly things such as motherhood and maintaining a clean & orderly household.

    I remain,
    Sir Archibald Campbell-Porter, RA
    Barrackpore, India

  25. Ben Abraham says:


    *slaps author in the face with glove*

  26. Zaptrack says:

    My name is miguel, and I’m not a thief in anyway whatsoever.

    The horse followed us, we got pushed into those barrels heading for america, the horse came with the food, and your mother approached me that fortnight.

    Perhaps if I stole, and by stole I mean acquanted myself with these games and made them more woman friendly, I would be a multbillionare.

    My wife, ruth handler, is already hard at work on these toys.

  27. WCAYPAHWAT says:

    This travesty must not be allowed to continue!

    I say, when I return from my adventures through the Dark Continent of Africa, there will be a reckoning good sirs, a reckoning!

    Yours sincerely

    Sir Alloysious Ginsworth Bassett.

  28. Flint says:


    Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed reading your highly intriguing article about the interesting world of female gameing, I couldn’t help but notice how the title of your wonderful installment bears a typographic error. Where it should say “gameing” it instead reads out as “gaming”.

    Whilst I am not the sort of person who worries oneself with the mistakes of others in their writing anymore (after all, it is only understandable in this day and age that people are not accustomed to the new modern teckhnologies and thus err at times), I do worry that such a typographic error in such a visible place can only mean harm. Just think dear gentlemen, if a newcomer to the world of gameing would rest his eyes on the sight – he (or she, as we can nowadays observe) might very well get the idea that gameing rots away our intelligence: the one thing that separates us from the wild beasts!

    Apologies for being such a pedantic scoundrel! I do bid you godspeed in your future endeavours in writing about the phenomenon of gameing – hopefully a lasting one instead of a simple fad.

    With best regards,
    Sir Flintus von Foxworth, III

  29. AbyssUK says:

    I wish to bring news of a new game in development!
    Its called Duke Nukem Forever however no release date is set as of yet. The company has stated however it will be “done when its done”, so i am guessing at 1 1663-64 release.

    Dr Abyss Blacknothingsworth.

  30. Zaptrack says:

    Popycock, good doctor, it will be 9 1662 at the latest.

  31. Martin says:

    Brilliant, by jove!

    My hat’s off to you all for partaking in this most excellent past-time.


  32. Miguel Handler the third says:

    I find it hard to get excited for such frivilous nonsense, when theory of relativity 2, episode 3 so close, and treefort 2 occupying much of my time.

  33. skillian says:

    Hey kids of america, its hand painted wooden ball-in-a-cup, Mexico’s favorite toy for over 340 years. Who needs constant video game stimulation when theres ball-in-a-cup? You just toss the ball, catch it in the cup, dump it out of the cup, toss it, and catch it in the cup again. The ball is on a string and attached to the cup, so theres no worry if you dont catch the ball in the cup. And clean up is as easy as catching a ball, in a cup. So why spend another day not catching a ball in a cup when you can be catching a ball-in-a-cup?

  34. Piratepete says:

    Personally i believe all correspondance to the mssrs at Rock, paper, shotgun should be written in the style hencewith shown in this ere blog.

  35. Kim says:

    Dear Sirs,

    I dare say, I have to admit I did partake in a game of Peggy last morn with my dearest Catherine Wintertitter. I was quite taken, and felt rather flushed.

    I’ve also taken a fancy to men’s Pantaloons, and I may just try them on! What sport!

    What would mother think, Teehee!

    – Kimberly Kimbelton.

  36. History Interpreter says:

    it’s a small, non-relevant point, but Jacob’s ladder can only be documented as far back as 1889 in an article in scientific american

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