Diversity in gaming – my take

Well, Part 1 of my take.

It’s amusing to me how popular I become when women in gaming or racial diversity in board gaming pops up in the social media sphere. As a non-white woman, I count towards MULTIPLE check marks in the diversity list. Huzzah! I, so far, have declined all invitations (which are now in the double digits) to appear on video chats or podcasts to discuss diversity in gaming. My standard response is this:

Thank you for the invitation, but I have to decline. I just end up frustrated or disappointed in friends or friends end up frustrated or disappointed in me.

And this is true. I am lucky to know many people in this hobby. People I like and enjoy gaming with. And it hurts more when these people say things that feel like a dismissal of my experiences. It’s one thing when an anonymous stranger on the internet says “you’re an overreacting feminist who hates men and gaming.” It’s completely different when it’s a friend who, in essence, says the same thing. Avoidance is cowardly. And I am a coward.

But what I don’t say is that it feels (and I use these words carefully – IT FEELS) like many of these invites are an attempt to capitalize on a wave of topical popularity. Many in the board game media community are driven by follower counts, and hit counts, and view counts. Controversy always drives these metrics. It’s true in all media channels. So when someone, who has never spoken about social consciousness topics before, says they want to help facilitate and open and honest discussion about these issues – it feels disingenuous.

And many invites come from people who have openly stated they don’t see or believe there’s an issue. But they know, to have any credibility, they should include someone that fits the “other” category they want to voice their opinions about. And they invite me because – well, who else will they ask? Of course, I’m being facetious. There are a number of wonderful women who are prominent in board gaming media. It’s nothing close to the number of men…but I don’t want to minimize the contributions of women in my community. But, the number of non-white women* who are in the public eye at all in board gaming is extremely small. Heck, the number of non-white PEOPLE in board gaming design or media in the USA is minuscule. And, as such, I am sensitive to the sense of tokenism these invites carry.

I also don’t say, I’m scared. EVERY time I make statements about women in gaming or race in board games – I get backlash online. EVERY SINGLE TIME. So when people ask me to join a podcast about diversity in gaming, they are not just asking me to give them an hour of my time. They are asking me to open myself up to harsh criticism, accusations, and personal attacks. They are asking me to filter through strangers telling me why my experiences aren’t real, why they aren’t part of the problem, why there can’t really be a problem because they see women at their store or they have a black friend in their game group. They are asking me to put myself on lists awful people keep of their enemies. I don’t get to simply record and walk away happy that I’ve contributed to a growing discussion about diversity…the way these hosts do.

Well, I originally created this blog to have a space to have more than 140 characters of my social media home, Twitter, has. If I’m going to express my thoughts on this topic, I might as well own the space I choose to do so. So let’s get to it.


*Yikes! I touch on intersectionlism! I wonder if I can blow some minds with that one!

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One Response to Diversity in gaming – my take

  1. Sandra says:

    I don’t think you’re a coward, Suzanne.
    I’ve even stopped going to my local game store and I’ve deleted myself from RPGGeek and BoardgameGeek. It’s not so easy.

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