Women in Gaming: Building Representation and Inclusion at the Board Game and TTRPG Table

As the popularity of board games and role-playing games continues to increase and more people gather around the gaming table, there are often some noticeable (and not-so-noticeable) absences both at the table as well as on it.

While women make up roughly 50% of the world’s population, representation at the gaming table and in the gaming industry lags far behind. In-depth studies and surveys aren’t super plentiful, but surveys like this one from Meeple Mountain show only around 30% of board gaming respondents were women while this study by Tanya Pobuda assessing gender and race in the board game industry found only 2.4% of BoardGameGeek’s Top 200 games had women designers and none included women of color designers.

Tabletop role-playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder, might be a little better but are still far from reflecting the wider population. According to this article from The Mary Sue looking at women in D&D, women make up close to 40% of the community.

Data and discussions that include trans women and those identifying as non-binary are, unfortunately, almost non-existent.

Any way you look at it, it’s clear there’s a lack of gender diversity in board games and tabletop RPGs.

We believe increasing the diversity for both players and creators is critical. At the same time, we also believe it’s essential to improve comfort and inclusion at the table for diverse players. One way we encourage both is by supporting diverse voices in all aspects of the community.

So in the interest of International Women’s Day, we’re going to jump off of our soapbox and encourage you to look into some of these resources featuring women and trans women in gaming and providing resources for those groups in the community that we’ve compiled below.

Communities for Women

There are a few gaming communities specifically for women on social channels including Facebook, Reddit, and more. Check out a few here:

Women of Board Game Design Facebook Group

Game Industry Women Only Facebook Group

Girls Who Like Board Games Reddit Community

Women in Gaming BoardGameGeek Forum

Women-Led Gaming Resources

From podcasts to websites and more, there are women creating some amazing board game and RPG content. Support their efforts with a click, listen, or view to make sure resources like these continue to thrive.

The Rules Girl YouTube Channel

The Board Game Blitz Podcast

Real Women of Gaming Website

And it’s not women-only-led, but we can’t NOT mention our friends over at Our Family Plays Games, a YouTube channel with wonderful content and a particular focus on diversity in gaming.

Women Game Creators

The number of women within the board game and RPG industries is steadily increasing and one of the best ways to make sure that trend continues is by supporting the work they’re doing. And we can safely say their work is amazing, so it’s really a no-brainer.

We could list out a bunch of creators here, but Elizabeth Hargrave, a notable game designer herself, already has an extensive, well-researched list on her site. So we encourage you to go check out women and non-binary creators over there. It’s even broken down by global regions.

There’s also a top-notch thread over in the BoardGameGeek forums highlighting women designers, illustrators, publishers, and more. Scroll through and add some of these must-have games to your list.

We also found a great list from Simon Fraser University’s Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science and Technology listing women and non-binary board game designers.

And one of our all-time favorite game publishers, Stonemaier Games, has a video breaking down its top 10 favorite games designed by women. Stonemaier is also a progressive voice in promoting diversity in gaming in general (including an article in the next section), so go give the Stonemaier blog a follow for more content.

Additional Articles About Women in Gaming

There are so many great articles out there about women in gaming. We definitely look forward to many, many more, but here are a few of our favorite reads recently:

“Dungeons & Dragons Wouldn’t Be What It Is Today Without These Women” (Kotaku)

“Moving Beyond Gender Assumptions in the Board Game Hobby” (Stonemaier)

“Inclusion, Diversity, and Representation in Board Games and Beyond” (Guest post by Elizabeth Hargrave on Stonemaier)

“Climbing Chutes & Ladders: The Positive Representation of Women in Board Games” (The Mary Sue)

And the website Analog Game Studies has a plethora of great articles on its site including many that focus on representation and diverse issues in gaming like “Misogyny and the Female Body in Dungeons & Dragons” and “An Analysis of Gender-Inclusive Language and Imagery in Top-Ranked Board Game Rulebooks”.

There are very few articles focused on trans women, but a couple of our favorites include “Trans Women, the Queer Games Scene, and DIY Game Design” from GeekGirlIcon and “Playing Only Trans Characters in Tabletop RPGs Helped Me Understand Myself” from Dicebreaker.

These resources are far from exhaustive. If you know of any great resources that we’ve missed, please reach out and let us know.