5 Commitments For Inclusive Gaming

Change is hard. Change can be scary. Change takes work.

Change, often, comes slowly and in small increments.

Change, in the best scenarios, is an evolution. Growth. Improvement.

Evolution is worthwhile.

Board Gaming needs to evolve.

 

I think about the super niche market of hobby board games a lot. I’ve created board game content for 2+ years now for the largest board game media network, The Dice Tower. I love this hobby and have been a gamer for over 20 years. And I dedicate a lot of energy in social media to promoting diversity, inclusion, and representation in gaming. I’m passionate about it. I get criticized for it. I believe it is one of the most worthy efforts we can undertake as board gaming stalwarts.

 

Most agree that hobby board games are reaching a new breadth of awareness in the world. Major publications are writing articles about board gaming and mass market retailers are dedicating more and more shelf space to hobby games. This growth invites more and more people, from all walks of life, to explore the awesomeness of board gaming.

 

While some disagree, I believe growth of the hobby benefits all facets of the hobby from publishers to old time gamers. While revenue potential does drive a certain level of commercialism, it also creates vast new opportunities between mass market dollars helping to fund smaller niche projects to new gamers entering the hobby and becoming passionate about it and delving deeper into the wide variety of games that exist.

 

I believe our hobby has issues both content-wise and community-wise that need to be addressed to ensure the growth of the hobby continues, the health of the hobby grows, and for board gaming to live up to its immense potential. I believe the evolution of our hobby is attainable – but all major facets of the industry must commit to supporting positive change.

 

How do we get there? Here are the 5 commitments we need from this hobby, industry, and community in order to evolve.

 

  1. Publishers and Game Designers – commit to diverse representation and inclusion in games
    1. Consider setting. Change the setting to a more diverse location/scenario or research the way underrepresented people were part of the setting you have and incorporate them
    2. Consider character spread and be thoughtful about tokenism
    3. Consider art style and presentation
    4. Leverage subject matter experts and other resources within the community
    5. Take input/feedback on issues around representation and appropriation
    6. Ask “why” of yourselves more when making content decisions
    7. Diversify your workforce and development team
    8. Break from the status quo
  2. Media outlets & Content Creators – commit to using their influence to raise awareness
    1. Speak up about positive inclusion and criticize negative representation
    2. Prioritize speaking about and to a holistic community
    3. Make it normal to talk about diversity, even if you’re part of the majority
    4. Invite underrepresented people to talk about their work
    5. Support and encourage underrepresented people creating content
    6. Set a good example
  3. Game Retailers – commit to prioritizing creating a positive experience for all gamers
    1. Ensure behavior policies are posted and enforced
    2. Work with the community they have to figure out what’s needed and invest in implementing that
    3. Keep stores clean and well lit
    4. Be smart about product placement and display
    5. Train your employees on how to greet and speak to customers
    6. Train your employees on how to handle problematic behavior
    7. Consult with local law enforcement for tips on how to handle problematic behavior
    8. Set the tone for a healthy gaming community
  4. Conventions – commit to creating safe, inclusive, and diverse gatherings
    1. Commit to diverse and representative panels and featured speakers
    2. Ensure behavior policies are prominently posted online and within the convention space
    3. Ensure policies are enforced. Make plans on how you’ll handle issues before they come up
    4. Have a clear way to safely and privately report issues
    5. Be prepared to respond swiftly
    6. Believe
  5. Gamers – commit to holding each other accountable
    1. Educate yourselves. Make an effort to think about and research social issues in gaming. Don’t dismiss it as undesirable “politics”
    2. Listen to your fellow gamers. Everyone just wants to have fun. Be part of making that possible
    3. Stretch your empathy. Your experiences may not involve problematic behavior but you can play a role in spreading the positivity
    4. Raise your awareness. Learn to recognize problematic behavior online and at gaming events
    5. Address problematic behavior within your group
    6. Address problematic behavior you see in public gaming events
    7. Realize that if a person feels unsafe or uncomfortable, you have an issue that should be addressed
    8. Let publishers and designers know you want inclusion and diversity in games
    9. Let stores know the kind of environment you want to shop and play in
    10. Let convention runners know the kind of environment you expect to have for all gamers
    11. Be the kind of gamer you want in your community

Board Gaming needs to evolve.

Evolution is worthwhile.

Change, in the best scenarios, is an evolution. Growth. Improvement.

Change, often, comes slowly and in small increments.

Change is hard. Change can be scary. Change takes work.

Please be willing to be part of the change. Please be willing to do the work it will take to make gaming accessible, inclusive, welcoming, and fun – for everyone who just wants to sit down around the table and play a game.

5-Commitments-For-Inclusion

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