Superstar Women in the Gaming Community
Have you ever played Jenga, Set, or Lotus? Did you know these were all designed by women? As our industry grows, so does the pool of talent, and while society views gaming as a male-dominated hobby, women are increasingly designing some of the most successful games. To celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s highlight some amazing women involved in all aspects of the board gaming world!
Game designers are probably the names that people recognize the most. Toronto-based designer Erica Bouyouris is not only someone I’m ecstatic to know personally, she is a designer with a list of games under her belt that continues to impress as it grows. Most recently on that list, I’ve played her family-friendly Ghostbusters: The Card Game. The game has various facets of set-collection and easy-to-understand rules, making this great for younger and older players alike. Erica, an elementary school teacher by day, always puts all of her training to use in her designs to make an engaging experience for everyone!
While game design is obviously a central part of a game, the setting, theme, and story can pull players into the world and create a fully immersive experience. RPG authors are experts in this field, so we recently called on talented industry veteran Monica Valentinelli (Firefly RPG) to write a novella to accompany our upcoming game, Proving Grounds. Featuring a fierce heroine trying to prove her innocence and reclaim her birthright, this solo game includes Monica’s 32-page novella to give you the background story for the character you will play in the game. What better way to immerse players into the deeply personal story of one woman’s struggle and triumph than to have her brought to life by a woman who has experienced the same (at least the triumph part - Monica’s list of work in the industry is formidable).
Though we often boast that the gaming community is inclusive and accessible to everyone, there are certainly aspects that some players find intimidating. Teri Litorco does a fantastic job of welcoming players into the folds of wargaming and miniature painting by making these would-be daunting groups openly accessible and friendly. She recently filmed painting tutorials for our upcoming Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid miniatures game. Her upbeat energy and positive attitude immediately put you at ease as she takes you through basic techniques that you can use for any figure. She also chooses paints and supplies that are easily-found at any hobby store, lowering the barrier to entry even more. All of her efforts mean that more players will be able to enjoy these aspects of our hobby!
There are other female voices championing inclusion in the industry. Mandi Hutchinson and Suz Sheldon, core members of The Dice Tower, are two that I must mention. This dynamic duo is a force of good and holds publishers and players alike accountable for their actions. In addition to reviewing games on their podcast together, they each work to keep the board game community improving on many levels. They don’t hesitate to talk about diversity and representation in games, they are both unabashedly feminine in their presentation, and they routinely squash assumptions regarding game preference and gender. While there are many great reviewers in the industry, it is always a relief to find someone whose life experiences and values line up with your own.
From the publisher perspective, there are countless women who work hard behind the scenes to turn our game ideas into realities. One such woman is our very own Anita Osburn, the Creative Director at Renegade Game Studios. We pride ourselves on creating visually pleasing games and Anita has a huge hand in achieving that. She has been with Renegade since the very beginning and manages a huge team of graphic designers and artists, all while putting up with the marketing team’s ridiculous requests. What’s even more impressive -- she handles all of these creative projects while living abroad in Costa Rica with her husband and two young kids! It’s amazing how big a part she plays in the production of our games from so far away. For her, the best part about working in this industry is bringing people together to have fun. We couldn’t agree more!
I could name so many more amazing women, but the list would go on forever since there are new women designing and playing games every day. Instead, take a moment to thank the ladies you’re grateful for in the gaming community. I can guarantee they don’t hear it often enough! Of course, March isn’t the only time we should appreciate women. We need to continue supporting and including women in this wonderful hobby we share, and we do that by caring and trying. Doing so will make our community all the better.
Danni Loe is the Associate Marketing Manager for Renegade Game Studios. She loves reading comics and drinking tea almost as much as she loves playing board games.