I was playing a new game (Glass Road) recently and I couldn’t help but point out to my friends that there are no female characters. Not one out of 15 roles is depicted by a woman. Although this is just a tiny little thing, it’s all of these little, purposeful, omissions that add up to the world we live in; a world that still has too much hatred towards women, towards minorities, towards anyone who is different.
Did this game designer even consider women? Is it so natural for him to create a world without women? Sure, this game is set in a medieval era but guess what? Women actually existed back then! Maybe it doesn’t make sense to the designer to use a woman as “feudal lord” but why can’t a woman be a farmer as surely women worked on farms. Besides, this is an invention! The designer could have depicted the characters any way that he liked but he chose only white males. And no, I’m not going to be satisfied that there simply weren’t women (or people of colour) in Medieval Bavaria.
What perplexed me even more while playing was when I asked why spending water gave a player charcoal (or something like that) my friend teaching me this game said there was actually a story in the rules booklet that described why. There is an entire background story to how trade works in this medieval game world but not even a thought appears to be given to how they depict their characters.
As I wrote above, in and of itself this is a minor incident hardly worth noting, but the reason I’m writing now is that these small incidents do add up. Many people do not see themselves reflected in the world around them; our diversity is not represented. People do naturally distrust or fear “others” so why aren’t we including women and people of colour in our creations (games, books, etc.) in order to show that it is just as normal to have diversity surround us?
This was just one example. I actually enjoyed the game and I have enjoyed others by the same designer and it’s quite likely I’ll eventually add one of his games to my collection, but I wanted to share what’s running around in my mind every day when I see or hear something that unnecessarily omits half of humanity.