White, straight, cis men are everywhere – not just in board games. I’m one of them. My voice doesn’t add anything new. My experiences may be unique to me, but they’re probably not much different to those of every other white cis man. I may not be rich or live in luxury and I feel that I have put in the work to get to where I am in my life, but I have grown up with privilege – and that privilege has given me a headstart and opened up opportunities to me that others won’t have had. However, this article isn’t about me. It’s about why we need more representation, more diversity and more voices from a wide range of backgrounds and it focuses on the board game community specifically.
In the next article in my series about how board games go from an idea to a product, I want to talk about the creative people who are responsible for the graphics and other visual bits that we see when we play games. Very often their work is what we see first and remember vividly afterwards, but very rarely do we remember their names. If done well, the visual elements of a game blend seamlessly and add to the experience but don’t detract from the gameplay.
I was inspired by a comment on a recent Kickstarter campaign to investigate how a publisher’s decisions about how a game is released can give customers the feeling of exclusivity in a negative sense, the fear of missing out, an opportunity for profit, and many more things that can negatively affect the opinion people have towards the company or individuals releasing the game. So let’s look at how different choices can be viewed differently.
In my view, the tabletop games community is generally a friendly, welcoming group of people. We seem to know that we are all human beings, and each of us has different skills, experiences, backgrounds, challenges and attitudes. We do our best to ignore stereotypes and prejudices and try to allow anyone join in the fun of escaping to another world, solving difficult puzzles or do whatever constitutes playing a game. Of course, our community isn’t perfect, but I would say the trend is in the right direction. The same is true for modern games, and many designers and publishers are clearly doing what they can to allow more people to join in the fun. There is still more work to be done of course, but again the trend seems to be in the right direction.