As the popularity of board and role-playing games grows and more people gather around the gaming table, it is more and more important to see inclusion and diversity in gaming. We aspire for gaming to be accessible for everyone, to gather around the table, to have a safe space to have fun and to have a role model.
Despite the overwhelming participation of women as gamers throughout history, inclusion in board games and board game designs has historically been difficult. Female characters continue to be underrepresented, and few female designers make it into the top 100 board game designers.
In celebration of International Women's Month and in order to increase the number of people who discover these designers and play their games, this article aims to highlight board games created by specific women designers.
We are referencing Elizabeth Hargrave's lengthy, in-depth list posted on her website. Elizabeth Hargrave is an American game designer. She has designed several games, including Wingspan, which won the 2019 Kennerspiel des Jahres for best connoisseur game of the year, Tussie-Mussie and Mariposas.
"I want gaming to be awesome for everyone.
I want to play more interesting games designed by people from diverse backgrounds.
I want the industry to grow massively."
This is the truncated list made by Hargrave over in bgg:
Wingspan is a competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game from Stonemaier Games. It's designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and features over 170 birds illustrated by Beth Sobel, Natalia Rojas, and Ana Maria Martinez.
You are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions). These habitats focus on several key aspects of growth
Maxine Juniper Newman (with Nate French)
Something evil stirs in Arkham, and only you can stop it. Blurring the traditional lines between role-playing and card game experiences, Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a Living Card Game of Lovecraftian mystery, monsters, and madness!
In the game, you and your friend (or up to three friends with two Core Sets) become characters within the quiet New England town of Arkham. You have your talents, sure, but you also have your flaws. Perhaps you've dabbled a little too much in the writings of the Necronomicon, and its words continue to haunt you. Perhaps you feel compelled to cover up any signs of otherworldly evils, hampering your own investigations in order to protect the quiet confidence of the greater population. Perhaps you'll be scarred by your encounters with a ghoulish cult.
Michaela “Mín” Štachová (with Elwen)
On an uninhabited island in uncharted seas, explorers have found traces of a great civilization. Now you will lead an expedition to explore the island, find lost artifacts, and face fearsome guardians, all in a quest to learn the island's secrets.
Lost Ruins of Arnak combines deck-building and worker placement in a game of exploration, resource management, and discovery. In addition to traditional deck-builder effects, cards can also be used to place workers, and new worker actions become available as players explore the island. Some of these actions require resources instead of workers, so building a solid resource base will be essential. You are limited to only one action per turn, so make your choice carefully... what action will benefit you most now? And what can you afford to do later... assuming someone else doesn't take the action first!?
Nikki Valens (with Corey Konieczka)
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition is a fully co-operative, app-driven board game of horror and mystery for one to five players that takes place in the same universe as Eldritch Horror and Elder Sign. Let the immersive app guide you through the veiled streets of Innsmouth and the haunted corridors of Arkham's cursed mansions as you search for answers and respite. Eight brave investigators stand ready to confront four scenarios of fear and mystery, collecting weapons, tools, and information, solving complex puzzles, and fighting monsters, insanity, and death. Open the door and step inside these hair-raising Mansions of Madness: Second Edition. It will take more than just survival to conquer the evils terrorizing this town.
Jenny Iglesias (with Nick Little and Kevin Riley)
The survivors of a long-ago invasion have taken refuge in the forgotten underground city of Gravehold. There, the desperate remnants of society have learned that the energy of the very breaches the beings use to attack them can be repurposed through various gems, transforming the malign energies within into beneficial spells and weapons to aid their last line of defense: the breach mages.
Aeon's End is a cooperative game that explores the deckbuilding genre with a number of innovative mechanisms, including a variable turn order system that simulates the chaos of an attack, and deck management rules that require careful planning with every discarded card. Players will struggle to defend Gravehold from The Nameless and their hordes using unique abilities, powerful spells, and, most importantly of all, their collective wits.
Grace Holdinghaus (and Nathan Hajek)
Embark on your own adventures in J.R.R. Tolkien's iconic world with The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth, a fully co-operative, app-supported board game for one to five players! You'll battle villainous foes, make courageous choices, and strike a blow against the evil that threatens the land — all as part of a thrilling campaign that leads you across the storied hills and dales of Middle-Earth.
Each individual game of Journeys in Middle-Earth is a single adventure in a larger campaign. You'll explore the vast and dynamic landscapes of Middle-earth, using your skills to survive the challenges that you encounter on these perilous quests. As you and your fellow heroes explore the wilderness and battle the dark forces arrayed against you, the game's companion app guides you to reveal the looming forests, quiet clearings, and ancient halls of Middle-Earth, while also controlling the enemies you encounter. Whether you're venturing into the wild on your own or with close companions by your side, you can write your own legend in the history of Middle-Earth.
Across the globe, ancient evil is stirring. Now, you and your trusted circle of colleagues must travel around the world, working against all odds to hold back the approaching horror. Foul monsters, brutal encounters, and obscure mysteries will take you to your limit and beyond. All the while, you and your fellow investigators must unravel the otherworldy mysteries scattered around the globe in order to push back the gathering mayhem that threatens to overwhelm humanity. The end draws near! Do you have the courage to prevent global destruction?
Eldritch Horror is a co-operative game of terror and adventure in which one to eight players take the roles of globetrotting investigators working to solve mysteries, gather clues, and protect the world from an Ancient One – that is, an elder being intent on destroying our world. Each Ancient One comes with its own unique decks of Mystery and Research cards, which draw you deeper into the lore surrounding each loathsome creature. Discover the true name of Azathoth or battle Cthulhu on the high seas.
Flaminia Brasini (with Virginio Gigli and Simone Luciani)
Lorenzo de' Medici, also known as "Lorenzo il Magnifico" (Lorenzo the Magnificent), was one of the most powerful and enthusiastic patrons of the Italian Renaissance.
In Lorenzo il Magnifico, each player takes the role of the head of a noble family in a city during the Italian Renaissance to gain more prestige and fame — that is, victory points (VP) — than anyone else. To do so, you send your family members to different areas of town, where they can obtain many achievements. In one location, they get useful resources; in another development cards that represent newly conquered territories, sponsored buildings, influenced characters, or encouraged ventures; and somewhere else they activate the effects of their cards.
Molly Johnson (with Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich)
Point Salad is a fast and fun card drafting game for the whole family. There are over 100 ways to score points. Players may use a variety of strategies and every game of Point Salad is unique!
Cards come in six different types of veggies, and the back of each card has a different scoring method. So for instance, one scoring method may award 2 points for every carrot you have, but deduct a point for every onion. By drafting combinations of veggies and point cards that work for your strategy, you can amass the most points and win.
Women-Led Gaming Resources
From podcasts, vlogs websites and more, there are amazing women creating board game content. Support their efforts by clicking, listening, or viewing to ensure that resources like these continue to thrive. Don't forget to like and subscribe!
Abigael from Mochis and Meeples
Danilyn from MonkeyPlaysPH
Lanz from Wasabibuns
Supporting Women in Board Game Design
Hargrave adds ways to support diversity in board game design?
Spread the word about designers from a variety of backgrounds, and normalize the idea that we should expect many different kinds of people to be game designers. If you're invited to be on a panel that's all white men, forward some names to the organizers.
Create gaming and playtesting events that will attract new people. Advertise to the public, and hold them in spaces that welcome all. You can't grow the hobby by hanging out with the same people all the time. What if playtesting events came with playdates or childcare? What if they didn't run until midnight on a school night?
Help new designers network at cons and playtesting events. Think about how intimidating it is to walk into a room where you visibly stand out as different, and try to make it easier on someone else. Introduce them to other designers and to publishers. Play their games.
Be aware of casual sexism and racism in gaming, especially when it's not directed at you. Call people on it when you see it.
These resources are far from exhaustive. If you know of any great resources that we’ve missed, please reach out and let us know.