Inclusion, Diversity, and Representation in Board Games and Beyond (guest post by Elizabeth Hargrave) – Stonemaier Games

Wingspan designer Elizabeth Hargrave, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working and learning from over the last 4 years, recently posted an incredibly insightful series of connected thoughts...

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11 months ago

This is a good read and will surely be an eye opener for many of us.  As a 50 year old white male, I would not consider my self racist or sexist or biased against LGBTQ+, but it is becoming clearer and clearer that I am and just wasn't aware of it.  And perhaps that's the first step, much like alcoholism, admitting you have a problem, in the process of inclusion.  And even more importantly to pass this information down to our children in the hopes that they never have this "problem" and that they can live an inclusive life.  It's certainly not going to be easy for us (me) to change, the more I read and start to understand what is wrong and how and why, the more i realize how complex the issues are externally and internally.  I become defensive and then resolve that I didn't even understand why I was defending something and that clearly just the fact that I had such a strong reaction shows how deep the emotions behind all of this go.  Anyway, that's my long winded way of saying I will try to be better, I will try to understand more, I will try to be more inclusive in all my choices in life.  I have a problem but I can change.



11 months ago

Hi Rich,

Just wanted to say I really appreciate you being so honest, it is not an easy thing to do: to recognise and share our own struggles, but I think doing so is not only really impoortant for us as individuals but will go a long way to helping others do the same.

I have no doubt you will get better and better at recognising situations where you can be more inclusive and better and better at acting on them!

11 months ago


11 months ago

Thank you!

11 months ago

Thanks for posting this, was a really worthwhile read. It points out things that I 'know' but I wonder if I truly internalise them/ act on them all the time when interacting with people.

The unwelcoming spaces point is really interesting to me, I can imagine it being quite cyclical in nature: Board gaming is full of white men, so those gamers mostly only intereact with other white men while gaming, as such when someone from a marginalised group enters that space they both feel out of place and are met with people who are ill prepared to be welcoming due to lack of practice (and some who are actively unwelcoming/uncaring). As such that person doesn't feel encouraged to turn up again/often so the culture remains majority white and male, rinse and repeat. Kind of shows why being neutral isn't enough and we ('we' being the majority white male cis etc. gamers who hold the most influence and power) need to be active and supportive in creating change. 

I also think the points at the end were so apt:

  • I want gaming to be awesome for everyone.
  • I want to play more interesting games designed by people from diverse backgrounds.
  • I want the industry to grow massively.

And I believe those 3 things are inextricably linked.

And something that I think is often missing from the exploration of issues of discrimination, that the hobby (and society in general) will get immeasurebly better for everyone (including the white dudes) by the inclusion of everyone in it. Inclusion is not some self-sacrificing kindness that those in power/agency give to those without it, it should be something you should work towards even if you are being entirely selfish (not that I am proposing that is a good sole motivation). Board games (and society) will improve if we give more people an opportunity to share there wonderfulness with it. I often think this is the where the whole 'white-saviour' complex comes from for some people: The idea that 'I am making the world better by helping you' rather than 'I am swallowing my ego and getting out of your way so you can go be awesome and make the world better and celebrating you for that' 

Didn't mean to write so much, but the neurons started firing, was a bit of a splurge so please forgive any misteps in my language or phrasing, any hurt will be unintentional (not that that would make it okay).