|Susan McKinley Ross at|
2013 New York Toy Fair
I started to pay more attention to this "exception that illuminates the rule." At UnPub 4 last January, of over 60 designers on the bill, three were women - Kiva Fecteau, Bonnie Neubauer, and Suzanne Zinsli. (Anna Rutledge was also present but not credited for her contributions to New Bedford and 10 Acres. I assume that omission was a function of her own modesty and not an oversight.) And of those women, only Bonnie Neubauer was a solo designer; the others were part of a design couple/team.
|Anna Rutledge at 2013|
Congress of Gamers
The issue of feminism and boardgames has more to do with feminism than boardgames. Like in all social groups, there is progress to be made in the boardgame community. Part of the responsibility lies in the men to cultivate an accepting community, as well as a society where shared home responsibilities allow women to explore their interests. Part of the responsibility lies in the women to speak up, stop limiting themselves, and give the guys a break once in a while.Very recently her husband Nat Levan took up the topic on the same blog with a call for respectful discourse, balance, and breadth of perspective in game development business, in game characters, and in theme. Faced with some thematic controversy regarding his whaling-based game New Bedford, he observed that in dealing with both whaling and gender disrespect, "By pretending it doesn’t exist at all, you negate all the work done to right the wrong."
|Nat Levan at 2013|
Congress of Gamers
To be fair, I had no intention of addressing how women are depicted in games but how women appear to be under-represented among board game designers. But given Anna R.'s call to "cultivate an accepting community," and what I will stipulate is the fundamental nature of most gaming as role playing, it's not hard to conclude that a catalog of games that often puts players in the roles of white males exercising power does not express inclusiveness to women.
So is that a valid thesis, that board games customarily put players in masculine roles and thereby discourage women from joining the creative community of designers?
I tend not to think so. I'd even go so far as to postulate that more women design games than my introductory observation would suggest. I've started to look at numbers and trends among women game designers. I'll publish my findings in subsequent posts in an effort to gain a better understanding of real and apparent under-representation of women in game design.
Feminism Discourse Part 2: Who are the women that design boardgames?
Feminism Discourse Part 3: Who else has asked this question?