I stumbled across this Kickstarter a couple days ago and I knew I had to support this campaign! I am providing a spotlight on my own free will, with my own opinions. If this looks interesteing I would encourage you to check out their Kickstarter page and website.
Girls’ Game Shelf Kickstarter Video
Why spotlight Girls’ Game Shelf?
I hear from podcasters, content creators, and friends/acquaintances in the board gaming hobby that more women are playing games and more women are entering spaces such as content creation, gaming conventions, local game stores, and designing (to a lesser extent). I actually hear this quite a bit. Ratios are evening out – 30/70… 40/60… so close to the much sought after 50/50 gender split. I am less sure of this fact. Many of these observations are individual – ‘my daughter is a gamer’, ‘there are women in my gaming group’, ‘I saw a lot of women at this one convention’ – without any data to back up the ‘trend’ of equal representation. Not even touching on the vast spectrum of gender identity and how we mainly talk about gender diversity in a binary (men and women), I have a question… Does equal representation of gender necessarily mean an equitable representation or social justice within the hobby?
I would argue no. I would argue that equality does not mean we are inclusive and supportive of all genders in our hobby. I would argue that we even go as far to use the idea of equal representation as a barrier to address the real issues, as a way to consciously or unconsciously uphold a long standing status quo of oppression. So what do I mean exactly?
Just because more women are entering the space of hobby board gaming does not mean the environment and culture surrounding gaming has changed. There are long-standing issues pervasive and ingrained in board gaming that continue to be exclusive to men. Men still are the majority of the content creators for board games, men still own the majority of publishing companies, men still primarily design most of the games that do get published, and men still dominate the physical spaces for board gaming (conventions, local game stores, etc.). Further, with groups of only men or mostly men comes hyper masculine complexes, which can results in a culture where women and trans* folks are not welcome, reinforced by the portrayal of women as hypersexualized, and subservient and silent, reinforced by the fragile state of unhealthy masculinity in the US.
My point is, we need to start changing the spaces and the culture associated with board gaming and gender identity. Once we start liberating our hobby, more marginalized communities will feel welcome and will participate in our great hobby. We could have a fully diverse group of people – women, trans* folks, LGB+ folks, differently abled folks, folks from all ages, folks from different nationalities, folks from different socioeconomic statuses, and people of color – in our community.
Why should you consider backing?
Well, I would first point you to the above section – we need to use our voice and resources in order to create more inclusive space for marginalized people. A more diverse board game community will lead to a stronger hobby and a stronger industry. We should want diversity. We should really want diverse people in the hobby. We should really want diverse games on our shelves. There are many barriers and I empathize, this work is not easy. Sometimes the status quo feels safe and comfortable. Sometimes we think about diversity and forget about supporting our diverse community – having diversity without the support is not the goal. Or we think… advocating for a culture shift is not my problem. In reality, it is everyone’s responsibility and showing support either monetarily or through sharing this with your friends/family/game group is a good first step.
Second, their videos are amazing! They are tackling an area of board game content that I think does not really exist from identity lenses we do not have in the hobby . We have our standard board game reviewers, we have our people who teach games, we have people who podcast about board game topics, and we have people who do recorded or live playthroughs of games. Girls’ Game Shelf is a combination of much mentioned above. After a brief overview, the videos focus mostly on recorded gameplay and reactions/interviews with the individual members. I feels like a shorter (and in my opinion) more entertaining than Tabletop with Wil Wheaton. See for yourself in the video below!
Girls’ Game Shelf Episode 1: The Resistance Avalon