A Place at the Table Blogs

A Place at the Table: Women and Board Games

Hello hello! I’m trusting that all of you gamers have had a good week. I certainly have. I’m not sure if y’all have noticed, but currently, I’m currently the only female voice on this website. So, ladies, this one is for you. Guys, you can read along as well. It never hurts to read.

Ladies, I’m going to be honest with you. We are underrepresented in the board game community. The community is changing, but we are still behind the guys when it comes to active players. I don’t know if women just aren’t as vocal within the community, or they don’t feel welcome in board game communities, or if it is some other reason that we aren’t seeing the representation. I don’t want to say that we aren’t out there and well known because there are some well-known women board gamers. I consider myself fairly lucky as far as playing board games goes. I’m not the only woman in our local board game community. In fact, all the winners of our Ticket to Ride Tournament have been women. 4 years, and 4 female winners.

To be honest, I haven’t encountered a lot of the problems that women have expressed about playing board games. I’ve been very very lucky. Our local group has a fairly large number of female players, so I’ve never felt like I needed to be brand ambassador, so to speak.

That being said, when I venture beyond the safe confines of the Traverse City Board Gamers, I have run into some difficulties.

I purchase most of my board games online. There are a few reasons for this. The selection online is wider than what I can find at the small board game shops in our town. I would prefer to support small local business, and we do buy games from them. But… I don’t generally go into them without Number One by my side. I find that when I go into our local shops by myself, I become some sort of novelty. Every single person in the store stops what they are doing and looks at me like I’ve wandered in by accident. Generally, I have my Peep and Stormageddon with me, so that certainly doesn’t help matters much. Here’s the thing, when I’m looking to purchase a game, I’ve generally done my research. So, I know what game I’m looking for, and I know if there are any expansions or anything special that I need to buy with it. Should I ask a question while I’m in the store (usually something related to the location of the game so that I can purchase it), I often find that the words “little lady” or “sweetheart” are attached to the response. By shopping online, I can also generally find the games cheaper than what our local businesses charge for them.

The other thing that I’ve noticed when playing a board game is that sometimes I get talked over. Meaning that even if I’m answering a question or clarifying a rule for someone, another player is going to talk over me to make sure they are heard even if their information is incorrect. Luckily, this doesn’t happen often, and when it does, the other people playing the game are often quick to state that Kate knows the rules for this game or Kate does in fact know what she is talking about. I don’t think that I’ve ever had any of the regular attendees of our game night ever question me or try to talk over me. It’s only ever been someone who comes to check it out once and then never comes back again.

I think one of the solutions to the problems that women have in the board game community is speaking up. If you know the rules and you are teaching a game, let them know that you know the rules and you know what you are doing. Don’t let the guys talk over you because you are a woman. We also need to be more present in the community. Go to conventions. Go to tournaments and local board game events. And when you are there, ladies, win some games and kick some butt! I know you can do it.

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