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【Board Game Miscellaneous】Hope You Will Brave The Wind and Waves, Soar Your Wings——To The Excellent Female Board Game Designer
2020-07-01

The ancient saying "Excellent as their male colleagues" is often used to praise promising women. However, in feudal society, women who have been recognized as "having" for thousands of years are actually few, because the vast majority of women have no chance to do something. They usually only appear as mothers, wives, and daughters, and are constrained by family and gender.

It was not until the emergence of the industrial revolution in the last century that many advanced women were able to break through the feudal ideological constraints and enter the society, enter the workplace, and strive for a social status that can compete with men.

In the field of games, women still belong to "rare animals", and women are rarely seen in the niche board game circle. It can be seen that when inventorying well-known board game designers, VC, Uwe Rosenberg, Eric M. Lang, Vital Lacerda, etc. who are often on the list are all men. Some people say that this is because the proportion of female players is already low, and the board game design process needs to be more sensitive to numbers. It needs to be applied to complex engineering disciplines such as modeling. These are women who are "not good at".

In fact, there are not many outstanding female designers in all walks of life, and almost no job in the world will be restricted by gender. There are already many shining female designers in the board game industry. They interpret and create board games from the perspective of women, glowing for the cause they love. They are like a group of "sisters" brave the wind and the waves, and their efforts should be seen by more people.

Female designers who lead the trend with "bird"

Not long ago, the winning results of the 14th The Golden Geek Award, the most watched game in the board game industry, were announced. "Wingspan" swept the eight bests without suspense and became the biggest winner of the year. The designer of "Wingspan" is the one A talented woman-Elizabeth Hargrave.

"Wingspan" is an engine-building game driven by cards. Players will play as a researcher who manages bird sanctuaries and attract more birds by creating a good ecological environment. Moderate difficulty and various combo refreshments make this game a very suitable entry game for beginners.

In addition to the rich gameplay, "Wingspan" is also a rare bird science work. There are as many as 170 bird cards in the game, all of which are realistic species, and the concept of bird collection is very attractive to the modern people who grow in the steel jungle.

"Wingspan" originated from an alternative vision of the theme of board games that was born in designer Elizabeth's mind after playing one table game after another: "Why do all games seem to be about Mediterranean merchants, medieval castles, government, universe Or galaxy? Why can’t I make some of my favorite themes, games that involve things that we like to do everyday?”

In addition to playing board games, Elizabeth's other hobby is observing and experiencing nature. Observing various birds is one of her favorite things. So she put her passion for birds into the design of board games, but when she came up with this inspiration and theme, she was not optimistic about most people around her who preferred hot IP and hard core themes.

Elizabeth did not give up. She insisted on using birds as the protagonist of the game. When the president of the game publisher Stonemaier Games experienced this game, he was deeply attracted. He found two other female artists for Elizabeth-Natalia and Anna to do illustration design for "Wingspan". In order to help them better understand birds and to paint more accurately, Elizabeth brought them in contact with excellent wildlife photographers and obtained permission to draw illustrations based on his photos.

They used a combination of traditional color lead hand-painting and modern digital technology refinement to depict the lifelike birds in the "Audubon" realism style. They basically spend 7 to 8 hours on each illustration. Some works even took nearly 20 hours to create.

Continuing the exquisite style of illustration, "Wingspan" has been carefully polished and tested for several years in terms of accessories, rule design, and card UI. Until 2019, Elizabeth's momentary inspiration finally became a reality.

When talking about the original intention of the design, Elizabeth said frankly: "Compared with edutainment, I hope it is just a game. When players interact with the birds in the game, they hope that the real information It can make them feel more immersive and more interesting." This masterpiece brought by three female designers and artists has also impressed thousands of board game players and even won the attention and appreciation of animal protectionists out of the loop.

The success of "Wingspan" did not stop Elizabeth from designing a board game. She later launched a board game called "Tussie Mussie" based on the Victorian style, which gives meaning to the flowers exchanged by friends and lovers.

In 2020, she will also bring a new work "Mariposas", a game that allows players to experience the fantastic flying journey of Monarch Butterfly. Will Elizabeth's close-to-nature soul and unique female perspective also bring new surprises to the board game session and trigger a new wave of trends? The answer is very exciting.

Female Designers Who Looking Squarely at History

Looking at the numerous names on the BGG board game designer list, there is a female designer known for "out of the loop", she is Brenda Romero. She is an Irish-American game designer. In 2010, she was selected by Charisma+2 magazine as the woman of the year. In 2017, she also received a special award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Brenda's gaming career began when she was 15 years old, when she got her first "job" in life-to provide help to those who pass the game and do some answers to common questions about the game. But at that time, she never thought that the game would become a career that would make her grow up. In her adulthood, she worked for world-renowned game companies such as Atari, Electronic Arts, and Wizards.

Brenda's famous board game "Train" was born in 2009 and she calls it "documentary game". In the game, players put hostage tokens in train cars and transport them to the camp, suggesting the nature of the Holocaust.

In the game, the player can roll the dice and place the passengers on the train, the purpose is to transport the passengers to a series of locations, the name of which is printed on the "terminal" card. Every time a player carries a passenger in a car to the end of the track, the terminal card of the track is turned over, and the destination appears as a concentration camp (such as Auschwitz). But because "Train" is not designed for mass production, there is only one copy, so it is more mysterious.

After that, Brenda launched a new board game "The New World" that affected many people. The birth of this game stems from the fact that one day her daughter came home and told her about the history of the black slave trade she learned at school, and her daughter’s casual attitude towards this history made Brenda feel that this should be a heavy topic. Because of the daughter's father, her husband is a black man.

The process of the game is mainly to allow the daughter to relive the history of the trafficked black slaves across the ocean. The game uses different sizes of Mi Bao to represent African families. At the beginning, they will be forced to separate and be randomly loaded on a paper boat. As long as the boat passes the long ocean, it will travel to the Americas. Every round she will roll the dice with her daughter to determine the amount of food each week, but they are always not enough to allocate, unless some people are thrown into the sea from the boat.

Finally, Brenda’s daughter finally burst into tears for the black ancestors 100 years ago, and realized that behind the history of slavery and the black slave trade, countless people lost their friends, children and parents forever.Was forced to die on a tragic and unknown journey.


Later, it was made into a series of games called "The Mechanic is the Message". This series was supplemented by many similar heavy themed games, such as the game "Síochán Leat", which described the brutal historical process of the British conquest of Ireland.

It can be seen that Brenda always hopes to tell people through the game he designed that the game does not necessarily only bring happiness, it can also be used to interpret more meaningful, significant or heavy historical topics. And through the interactive carrier of board games, the shock may be far beyond many other forms of artistic expression.

At the same time, Brenda is constantly using her influence to encourage more next-generation talents to join it. She has worked with girls on many projects and taught them to learn game programming. She firmly believes that involving more women in the game industry will promote the healthy development of the industry, and hopes that the world will listen to more stories and voices from women.

Female Designers Who Resisting Arranged Marriages


The power of women can be inherited. Nashra Balagamwala was born in Pakistan. The female game designer she admires is Brenda Romero. She is also a game designer, graphic designer and illustrator herself.

She studied at Rhode Island School of Design, the number one art school in the United States, and during her internship at Hasbro Toy Company in the United States. In the United States, Nashra is exposed to more table games that she is interested in. Her favorite German board game is "Carcassonne" and the party game is "Cards Against Humanity". In learning and playing, she found that games are a good medium for people to discuss.


After graduation, her parents insisted that she return to her hometown of Pakistan after her work visa expires, because according to the traditional concept of her hometown, she should obey her parents' arrangements and marry a strange man. But Nashra did not return to her hometown, she designed a board game called "Arranged!" to challenge the fate of arrangements.

She hopes to stimulate the discussion of marriage freedom in the country through games in a fun way, so that other Pakistani women realize that they still have many choices, and she hopes to obtain a visa to stay in the United States to start a business or continue education.

The game layout of "Arranged!" is her hometown Karachi. There are various conflicts there, and there are bloody conflicts every day. In contrast, arranged marriages do not seem to be a big deal. Nashra’s sisters and female friends are all married like this.

In the game, players can choose to play a three-listed girl or a matchmaker. The purpose of the matchmaker is to let all girls get married. When the matchmaker finds that the girls have various excellent conditions necessary for marriage, such as rich dowry and cooking, they will approach them step by step. Girls must try their best to stay away from matchmakers, such as showing their various "shortcomings" during the game: pursuing a career, further education, having friends of the opposite sex, tanned skin, etc.-these are normal to us. It is regarded as something that female "virtues" should not have in the local culture.

But at some point in the game, the aunt will suddenly introduce a "high handsome" boy to them. At this time, the rules of the game become that single girls need to show off their daily prayers. Only female friends and other "virtues" can impress the matchmaker. In order to be qualified to marry this son of a gold tortoise, and other girls have to marry men with worse conditions. "Marriage" is the only way to end the game.

The setting of "Arranged!" is very ironic, but also very realistic. There are many women in the society like "matchmaker" under strong pressure to recognize the rules of sexism and even participate in the oppression of other women. And Nashra did not arrange a "successful escape" ending for the game, which fully reflected the real situation she saw, and also triggered a deeper thinking-under the tradition of inequality between men and women, all girls want to find quality Marriage partners, and men with poor conditions are difficult to find a spouse; when marriage becomes the only option for personal development, in order to obtain a quality marriage, people show hypocrisy and unscrupulous means.

Arranged! was reported by BBC, Fortune Magazine, NPR and other major media after the crowdfunding on KS. In the shine of the spotlight and the praise of everyone, Nashra "successfully obtained the visa for outstanding talents prepared by the United States. In any case, a girl changed her destiny through her talent and wisdom, which is a thankful thing.

Nashra also came to China in 2018, gave a speech at DICE CON and participated in industry exchanges. She hopes that China can also have excellent female game designers wearing armor.

Female Designer Who Embrace the  "KIM JI-YOUNG"






At the end of 2019, the Korean film "KIM JI-YOUNG, BORN 1982", adapted from the novel of the same name, was released. The film shows a little thing that we are accustomed to in real life, but it gradually pushes the seemingly ordinary and happy heroine. To the abyss of pain-"It turns out that we thought an ordinary day was full of all kinds of gender oppression."

This seemingly disease-free groaning problem is happening to many women. After getting rid of the underlying food and clothing, marriage and childcare bring women much heavier yoke than men.

This movie also triggered a hot discussion about gender on the global network. While paying attention to the survival status of Korean women, everyone began to reflect on the social problems encountered by themselves or the women around them.

South Korea's post-90s female designer Quan Xiuren also later released a debut game titled "Lee Zhihui Survival Game". Whether it is the movieization of "KIM JI-YOUNG, BORN 1982", or the design of the board game "Lee Zhihui Survival Game", it takes a certain amount of courage, because it is still very difficult to find a reasonable exit to show the current status of women's survival.


Quan Xiuren, when designing "Lee Zhihui Survival Game", combined his personal experience and his surroundings into a choice card for the game. Through a game mechanism similar to the "run group", the real scene of ordinary Korean women from small to large was simulated through the game. come out. Players play relatives and friends of the protagonist Li Zhihui in the game, participate in her life, help Li Zhihui choose among 32 personal problems from childhood to old age, and let her survive smoothly in the society.

Although this game requires players to cooperate in choosing actions, it is not a cooperative win game. Each player will be responsible for an attribute according to the role they play. That is to say, under the premise that Li Zhihui can live to the end, whoever is responsible for the highest attribute will be the winner.

The answer chosen by the player will affect a certain survival value of Li Zhihui. Once a certain value drops to 0 or bursts, Li Zhihui will declare death and the game will end immediately. Although the starting point of each role is for Li Zhihui, it is always difficult for her to live beyond 40 years old.

Quan Xiuren said that her original intention in designing the game was, "When talking about sexism with family members, they don't seem to take things seriously, and they are persuading me not to think too much." And she hopes that she can Through the display of real cases, let everyone realize the seriousness of this phenomenon, and pay attention to it, discuss it, and change it.

I hope that every woman can embrace bigger and more infinite dreams, and that we can care for and treat every "KIM JI-YOUNG".

summary
In addition to the above female designers, Sophia Wagner, one of the designers of the steampunk-themed board game "Noria", is also a girl.

There is also the board game "Who is she?" designed by Polish female designer Zuzia Kozerska. This quiz game is to commemorate the outstanding achievements of famous women around the world in history, hoping to portray their stories to let the younger generation understand, no matter what age And race, women can achieve achievements anywhere.

Gender is just a symbol, but more female designers also let us go to the other side of the world to be more diverse and rich. I hope that in the future, we will see more domestic and foreign female players and female designers join the field of board games to talk to the world through games. Overcome the thorns with strength, brave the wind and waves with courage.






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