Women in Games -- Examples of Positive Representation
- C&H Schmidt(Gswp)Germany
This list was inspired by recurring discussions about female representation in the Crowd Funding Discussion Thread in the Women and Gaming Forum.
When female gamers and crowd-funding supporters bring up their unease about either too few female playable characters and stereotypical presentation or over-sexualisation of female characters (playable or not) in games, they are often met with derision or their concerns are just dismissed by fellow (male) supporters or creators.
Often, it is even asserted that overly sexualised female characters are part of the fantasy/horror genre and an integral part of the appeal of the games.
So let's prove them wrong! Here, with your help, I want to showcase all the positive examples with diverse female characters which already exist, where women are equally capable and equally well equipped for their job.
What exactly am I looking for?
(IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Not satisfying most of the following properties and thus not belonging on this list does NOT make any game a bad game. It does not necessarily make it sexist or misogynist either. It just simply means that the game shouldn't go on this very specific list.)
This list is for positive examples, not just more or less neutral ones. So games should not just enter the list because they have some female characters or because there are women in the game at all -- that should not be extraordinary or reason for praising a game.
Instead, games on this list should clearly satisfy at least two of the following:
- Players play as a specific character (i.e. players do not just play a more or less ananomous identity like in many more abstract euros) and there are roughly equally many male and female options or more female playable characters.
- If players control a more abstract identity, women are meaningfully represented among the non-playable characters.
- Depictions of women in the game, on the game box and in the rules are not sexualised. Women are not victimised or belittled.
- The roles which characters of all genders fulfill in the game should not just be following stereotypical gender roles. E.g. the nurse, healer, princess, victim or helpless person, fashion model are female, the doctor, manager, warrior, engineer, scientist, detective are male -- you get the idea.
Whether a character is male or female should have nothing to do with the role they play in the game for the game to go on this list.
One last thing: I hope for a lot of participation from fellow BGGeeks and for your comments, but if you are not interested in this topic or think it is stupid, please just leave this geeklist alone and enjoy the rest of BGG -- there is plenty of online space where you are not confronted with this issue.
For me, positive female representation in games is important and I would be really sad if the list was sabotaged or taken over by those that don't.
EDIT: What I haven't said so far about the moderation of this geeklist: Since this is under my name, I feel that is is my responsibility to make sure that the games on this list really are positive examples of female representation as outlined in the criteria above.
Today, I took a lot of time to go through all of the new entries. I try to evaluate games based on their BGG page as well as I can.
Of course, games -- and the women in them -- are nuanced, a lot of games will have positive aspects and negative aspects and it will not always be easy to decide where and whether a particular game should be on the list.
I have not played many of the games suggested by others, so I do rely on you to explain why the game should be on the list, to mention possible points of criticism and to comment if you can add to the discussion.
EDIT 2: I have now decided that instead of keeping the list to its originally narrow scope, I'm going to split the list into two (three) parts:
- The first is games that satisfy three of the criteria (four isn't possible since the first two are mutually exclusive) or clearly satisfy two and have little to no problematic aspects.
- The second part is for games that satisfy two of the criteria, but have problematic aspects worth of discussion. So many of the items have prompted interesting discussions already, so I think it would be a shame to remove them!
- I will still delete games that don't satisfy two criteria.
- New games can still go to the bottom of the list and I'll do some sorting when I have time.
Let me also reiterate this: Not satisfying the above criteria does not make any game a bad game. Neither does it necessarily make a game sexist.
(Example: Somebody entered 'Robinson Crusoe - Adventures on the Cursed Island' to the list. This is one of my absolute favourite games. I love it. But although it has a male and female version of every character, the woman in the box art is very sexualised and the characters are relatively generic, so I would not consider it a particularly positive example of female representation, more of a neutral to 'mmissed opportunity' one.)
- [+] Dice rolls