When I talk about my attempts to diversify my book and tabletop game collection, I almost always am faced with the question… “Why bother?” These folks proceed to explain there are plenty of high quality authors and board game designers who create and end up publishing a significant amount of work. While I agree, I often come back to the fact that the publishing companies decide what content gets published and how wide is the distribution. In essence, those in power control the consumer market.
Most books and games published in the United States are written and designed by White men and consequently not only alienates marginalized groups (people of color, LGBT community, women, etc.) from fully enjoying a hobby, but it eliminates access for those authors and designers. I know this may sound blunt and could turn you off from the rest of this post (and blog); however, it is the sad reality. I have heard of publishers turning down an author of color because the content of the manuscript is deemed not relatable to consumers. I understand the need to sell products to bring in revenue and I think we are tackling this issue in the wrong way. Instead of always buying that book or game that may fall in our comfort zone, branch out and try something new. Instead of reading the next dystopian young adult series, pick up Beloved by Toni Morrison. Instead of playing that weakly themed board game about medieval Europe, be courageous and suggest Monsoon Market – a card game about trade in the Indian Ocean region by indie designer Daniel Solis.
I diversify my collection of books and games because it is my duty to work from a social justice lens in all aspects of my life. It is my duty to play, read, and review as much content as I possibly can to try to push for legitimacy of these authors, designers, and publishers. I have seen many folks blog and vlog about social justice in publishing and reading, and I want to help support those conversation. And further, I want to break into the board and card game hobby to talk about social justice, oppression, representation, and what we can do as a community of gamers, readers, authors, designers, and publishers to be more inclusive of our ever diverse hobby.
I hope you stick with me through this journey. As I said before, social justice is about courage. We need to push our comfort zones in order to grow. We need to experience other cultures and understand their positionality to move forward. I value your input – any social justice work is a transformative process that requires many voices all contributing to a common goal. I urge you to leave feedback in the form of a comment or send me an email through the contact form. Please speak your mind and keep your comments respectful – challenge the idea, not the person. Until next week…