Part 1: Why are women the exception in boardgame design?
Part 2: Who are the women that design games?
I'm certainly not the first to question the disproportion of men to women in the boardgaming hobby. Here are just a few recent efforts (and one not-so-recent) to shed light on the question in one form or another.
- The State of Games podcast Episode 60: The One about Women in Gaming gives voice to three women's perspective.
- Elisa Teague, co-designer of Geek Out! (Playroom Entertainment), is compiling an anthology of essays by women in the gaming industry called Girls on Gaming, which will fund on Kickstarter about eight hours after this blog is posted.
- Bruno Faidutti, designer of Citadels (Fantasy Flight), has a blog in both French and English. He has tagged some of his posts "Women and games" and it's interesting to read his unabashedly French take on feminism. His most recent post with that tag, "Minimalist Games and Big Characters," includes a short paragraph on why Mascarade is a feminist game:
It’s a feminist game, because of the King and Queen abilities – the Queen does the same job as the King, but is just paid one third less. The real issue now, at least in France, is not that women are paid less than men for the same job – the law is quite strict on this – but that, with similar qualification level, there are many more women in less paid jobs and many more men in well paid ones, but that’s a bit more complex to explain in one minute on TV, and also less fun to implement in a game – at least in this one.
- Insightful blogger Meg Simpson reflects on how women are sometimes patronized just for expressing their enjoyment of the things they love - like boardgames - in her post, "Enjoying it Wrong."
- Linda Mosca, designer or co-designer on five SPI and Decision Games titles, wrote an article for Moves magazine almost 40 years ago regarding women in wargaming. I have to admit that I can't think of any female grognards (although I'll bet my buddy Grant's mother Patricia would take to wargaming like a fish to water given half a chance).
- My post last week listed a number of women designers. That post drew heavily from geeklists assembled by other geeks seeking to catalog games designed by women:
Obviously boardgames aren't alone in gender disparity. I'll highlight just one other field. Whereas boardgamers seem generally open to the idea that women could find a greater presence in the community, women encounter considerably greater obstacles to acceptance and equality in the video game culture. If nowhere else, the Twitter conversation #1reasonwhy has given voice to the frustration of female video game designers and players - as well as to a backlash from an unreceptive, unsympathetic videogame sub-cadre.
I hope we boardgamers can cultivate an accepting community for those women who play among us and for those who would like to. No one should miss out on the opportunity for fun and social community that boardgaming offers.