Artemis V. EngstromUnited States
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I realized I have been away for some time. It's been crazy. But I'm back and have some more games I'd like to talk about!
Raise your hand if you love Superhero Games. *raises both hands waaaaay up and almost falls out of chair.*
Because I love them. I love Heroes Wanted, Legendary, DC Deck-builder...this list could get quite long. And I am a HUGE fan of Sentinels of the Multiverse and their many unique, wonderful characters, as well as their great inclusivity.
(Thanks to Kestrel1 for the image)
But I'm not here to talk about that game today. That's getting a future post.
I was clicking through Kickstarter when an image caught my eye:
Who is this woman? She looks like a superheroine. I like her suit. I love her hair. I love the look of serious business she's got in her eyes. I want to know more about this strong and sexy woman.
I perused the KS page and was delighted to read about the Tiny Supers RPG. I'm a huge fan of story in games, so a Superhero themed RPG focused on story is pretty much a yes-please-thank-you.
Plenty of ladies being repped in this game as Iconics. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I'm guessing that they are a probably a large part of the background behind the custom world the designers are creating, called the GallantVerse.
And that's exciting. They are using the efforts of many freelance writers to create this world of the GallantVerse for players to exist in. I assume that the rules have been created so that players could, if they decided to, make up their own world and play without any problems, but it looks like the folks at Gallant Knight Games are working hard to come up with a vivid and intriguing backdrop to engage players in. I especially love the look of all these Iconics, and I'm hoping there will be plenty of inter-personal story connections between the various characters.
Like these two, who are apparently siblings:
Come at me, Bro!
Super villains will be covered as well, and I'm happy that they did not shy away from women in this category either (though, of course, I want more!)
The description states that it will cover different types of superheroes, like supertech heroes and magic users, so I am satisfied in that respect as well.
The game is up on Kickstarter now, slated to end on Friday, August 10. It has already funded and is reaching into stretch goals. You can go to the site using the link below to read about the project and see more images of heroic and villainous Iconics. Best of luck to the project!
Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gallantknightgames/tiny...
(All images used with permission from Gallant Knight Games.)
The inclusion of female characters in my tabletop gaming experience is very important to me. I am creating this blog as a place to examine the steps that game designers and publishers have taken to include female (and sometimes LBGTQ+) characters into their games. I will point out what I think works, and what I think is lacking.
08 Jul 2018
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02 May 2018
I'll confess...I don't have anything for this week. There's been so much going on and I didn't prepare anything.
To anyone out there, though: Any neat games out there with gals? Let me know!
Until next time!
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25 Apr 2018
As promised last post, here are some recent Kickstarters that I think are neat. All of these are currently active.
ARENA: THE CONTEST
First, I'd like to mention Arena: The Contest. This looks like a fun battle arena game. And after watching the video on their kickstarter site, I was blown away by the beautiful artwork. A good number of women characters too, and no chainmail bikinis to be found!
(thanks to various users for the images)
If interested, the kickstarter is here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dragorigames/arena-the-...
But be warned that the campaign is entering its final 24 hours.
If battle arenas aren't your thing, how about a trip back to a late 1980's classic? Fireball Island has re-opened!
(thanks to jayahre for image)
For those who don't know, Fireball Island was a classic game about running all over an island, gathering treasure while hot balls of fire (marbles) rained down on you from the angry volcano god Vul-Kar! The folks at Restoration Games are bringing it back and the updates look amazing. You can check it out at [url]https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/restorationgames/fireba...]
The base game comes with four different figures this time, and two are women.
(thanks to JustinDJacobson for image)
GRAPHIC NOVEL ADVENTURES
Who loved Pick-a-path adventures when they were a kid (heck, even now who doesn't love them?!)?! Well, it looks like Van Ryder Games has taken it farther. They are mixing the storytelling media of the graphic novel with game mechanics to produce five immersive graphic novel adventure games.
Take a look at the website and see what they have: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/vanrydergames/graphic-n...
Personally, I am super looking forward to Tears of a Goddess.
NOTE: The campaign is over but Late Pledges are available for a limited time!!!
Here is an interesting concept that mixes some board game concepts with heavy roleplaying. This is a game where the players act out the story of a growing relationship between two characters of their choosing. After determining what they want to do, they pull blocks from a tower, and the status of the tower after determines what the result of the action is.
What I like about this one is that you are free to choose to be ANY character you want. You can examine love from any angle, between anyone, no matter their race, species or gender. This is a game that puts the players in full control of telling the story that they want to tell.
(Thanks to bullypulpit games for image)
Interestingly, Bully pulpit games also designed Night Witches, which was a title recommended by user AlexFS in my last post.
You can see Star Crossed here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bullypulpitgames/star-c...
Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to comment below! And if you know any other cool kickstarters with good woman and LGBTQ+ representation, please let me know!
Until next time.
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18 Apr 2018
I believe I mentioned in an earlier post that I have no problem with playing a historical game that does not include women if it involves an area in which women were not prominent (many military games set before a certain date, certain political games, etc.) That being said, if a game has a more general theme and does not hold itself to complete accuracy, I very much enjoy playing a lady character.
There was recently an inquiry on the women's forum regarding a designer's thoughts on the subject. He is designing a game that covers missions undertaken by the Royal Air Force in WWII. He was concerned about using gender specific language like "lads" in briefings. Of course, I said that such a thing does not bother me if all the pilots involved happen to be men.
He then went on to suggest that women would be integrated into the game via a "guardian angels" mechanic. For those who aren't aware, he was referring to the women (often nude to partly-nude) who were drawn on the side of certain airplanes. It was quickly suggested that his ideas had gone from reasonable to offensive. I recommended that if he was so concerned with accuracy, that he should read up on the brave women of the RAF in WWII and do something with that instead.
(image found on internet, USA and UK women pilots)
It's unclear whether or not he was a trolling.
I think it's becomming well known that there is a call for female representation in games. However, there needs to be some sensitivity to the topic. I'm not going to delve into other genres (like comic books or movies), but I just think that as a designer, you hold some degree of responsibility for your content. If you put in women, that's great, people will look at that; but if they are oversexualized, people will also notice that. And if you want to be accurate to women's role in a piece of history: actually do some research and find something of value.
I actually don't know why that even needs explaining, so I'd like to end on the positive note of a game that I recently saw the art for and was happy about: Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn
(thanks to capricasky for image)
These are the Phoenixborn (main characters) in the base game, and it beats the 50% ratio that I've always wanted to see! There are four women! I know that some rate Maeoni as potentially too "sexy," but if you ask my opinion, I do not think it is overly so. Actually, I think all of them are strong and sexy in their own ways. Point being, I think that it is wonderful, as is all the art in this game (how about Coal's haunting gaze, eh?).
There is a nice article written by Dear Plaid Hat Games.
The next post will likely be a bit shorter as well. I'm hoping to point out at least a couple kickstarter games that I think are doing a good job, including one that is using roleplaying to give players freedom to explore anything they want on the gender spectrum.
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11 Apr 2018
During the last article, I touched on how FFG creates its own characters within popular IPs so players can use them to explore that created universe. I also reviewed how they do a good job creating female characters.
In Star Wars Armada, there are not so many original characters (at least, I don't believe so). However, the developers at Fantasy Flight Games have done a good job scouring the canon for characters.
Many of these characters have made it into the game as 'ace pilots', at the head of fighter squadrons: (*thanks to Armada wiki for pics*)
People familiar with the Rebels series will immediately recognize Hera. And those familiar with the Aftermath trilogy will spot Norra Wexley and Morna Kee amongst these pilots.
In terms of release, Howlrunner was the only female pilot until the Rogues and Villains squadron set was released (with Jan Ors), and then the Corellian Conflict expansion, where many more women were added.
The ladies of Star Wars have also made appearances as upgrade cards:
Admiral Sloane has made her appearance in a recent wave (although I wish she had her grand admiral uniform). Ashoka Tano has her own card. And Governor Pryce, a character from Rebels, was inspired by suggestions by tournament champion Jonathon Reinig.
link to article: https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2017/12/11/govern...
There is not much 'background' art here as there are in LCGs, but FFG has also managed to introduce women into the generic command roles on upgrade cards:
(Even if three share the exact same hairstyle). ;p
Overall I'm relatively satisfied.
Now that I've delved into a few popular IPs, I'd like to go back to discussing trends in inclusivity in other board games. By the way, if you have seen any titles that you think do a good job, please feel free to mention them in a comment below!
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03 Apr 2018
Okay, maybe the title is a little harsh. After all, I love Star Wars and probably always will. But there's little denying that the galaxy we know through the silver screen is relatively low on female protagonists. To find the brave women of the Empire or Rebel Alliance we have to look to other material.
Fantasy Flight has definitely taken everything into account when designing its Star Wars licensed miniature games (at least, Imperial Assault and Armada...I don't know much about Legion or X-Wing).
A few articles ago I mentioned that one way to explore an established IP is to create stories and plots that wrap around the pre-existing ones. Fantasy Flight did this with Middle-Earth Quest, for example, by setting the game within the gap between Bilbo's 111st birthday and Frodo's departure from the Shire. And they created original characters to embark on this new adventure.
Well, we get the same in Imperial Assault's campaign mode. In the core set, alone, we get six brand new characters, two of them women:
*thanks to the wiki pages for all images
Jyn also happens to be my favorite character. She's a wily one!
I like that you are not playing as the canonical heroes from Star Wars because then there would be too much pressure to stick to a script. The missions are fresh, and beyond the character name and personal backstory mission, you are free to develop and roleplay your character as you desire.
There have been 5 boxed expansions since the core set, each with two or three additional heroes, and each has given us another woman:
Yup, you saw that right. A lady Ithoran. And a Cerean (from the Heart of the Empire expansion).
The game still captures many of the canonical characters in the form of deployment cards which can be used in skirmish mode (or potentially brought in by missions in campaign mode).
And the Rebel Alliance rangers are gals as well.
I'm satisfied, although I do wish there were some women on the Imperial side as well. Also, as I mentioned in my Lord of the Rings Post, FFG is also very good at inserting women into the artwork. Imperial Assault doesn't have quite as much of this, but I feel that the format is not comparable to their LCGs, and Imperial Assault sports much less art overall.
They do a really good job with this in Armada, though. But that's going to have to wait for my next post.
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25 Mar 2018
The Star Wars article I want to write involves more material than I had time to gather for this week's post. So, in the meantime, I would like to focus on a game that I think does a wonderful job at inclusivity.
This week we look at Ryan Laukat's narrative and adventure game Near and Far.
This is a delightful game that has multiple game modes, enabling players to create as long or short a game experience that they desire.
It all begins with selecting your character.
(thanks to kalchio for the pic)
Three women and three men. That's neat. But know what's even more neat? That lizardfolk. Is it a male? Female? Neither? Somewhere in between? And how about that golem-looking character?
Already off the bat you have a wide variety of choices for building your character (including some non-binary gender choices). I think the lizardfolk character delves into a good point regarding fantasy games: non-human characters allow for gender exploration in a non-traditional sense.
The design continues to not disappoint when you look at the hireable heroes:
(thanks to benjilb for the pic)
Look at that amazing variety of characters. Plenty of additional story material to add to your gaming experience.
And the faction leaders too:
(thanks to kalchio for the pic)
50% female (at least)!
Near and Far is a game that give a great amount of variety in its gender representation without forcing it upon you in gameplay. The characters are there and you can make from them whatever you want in the quest to tell the stories you want to tell.
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One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all,
And in these board games bind them.
-(don't sue me)
Wow. Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit. Classics.
Pretty much the source for contemporary grand fantasy (sometimes referred to as 'Tolkien Fantasy'), Lord of the Rings is practically a household name, especially after the movie adaptations.
However, it is known for being low on female characters. I believe the Hobbit is (almost?) entirely devoid of them, while Lord of the Rings really only has four that I would consider interesting:
-Eowyn (you go girl!)
-Galadriel (although, honestly, I'm not a fan)
-and...yes...Shelob (angry spider mama gonna' eat ya!)
Yup. One is a spider. And also the only female villain, so that's cool.
But I'm not here to talk about what was written decades ago. Rather, as a story that has become its own genre, how have later forms of media gone about adding more female characters?
No, Tauriel...I'm talking about board games.
Generally, most games include either some number of the four mentioned above, or none at all.
(thanks to Urhixidur for image)
Although, I do like the Christopher Lee stareface. (Has anyone else here listened to his Fireside Tales?)
LotR: The Battle for Middle Earth
Battle Games in Middle-Earth
LotR: The Confrontation
Spider mama sporting a 5 stength
(thanks to EndersGame for the image)
War of the Ring
(thanks to Vinsssounet for image)
Honestly, I haven't played War of the Ring. Beyond this overly joyful Galadirel, I hear that Arwen may have been included. Does anyone know what female characters are included in the game and all its expansions?
A personal favorite of mine, and the only game I can think of that includes all four:
Reiner Knizia's Lord of the Rings
(thanks to argentetbury for image)
So, which games do add new characters? For this I'd like to give a big nod to Fantasy Flight.
Starting with Middle-Earth Quest. This is a fun game where one player takes the role of Sauron and all his forces, schemes and influence across Middle-Earth. Sauron faces off against one to three hero players. What is interesting and creative is that this game takes place during the 17 years or so between Bilbo's 111st birthday and Frodo leaving the shire with the ring. It follows the untold story of five heroes who struggle to gather information on the encroaching darkness and mount the earliest resistance.
(thanks to RWarren for image)
Each Hero has their own stats, a special ability, and a unique deck of cards which they use throughout the game. Many of the attack and defense cards in each deck are character specific, allowing each hero one to feel like they have specifically trained skills (for example, the archer has a lot more ranged skills).
(thanks to itchyrichy for image)
I will admit: When I first played the game, I did not know that Beravor was a woman. When I discovered that fact later on, I was incredibly pleased. And not just because she has the best ability.
After creating these brand new characters, why not use them in more than one game? Exactly what FFG did in their Lord of the Rings LCG.
(thanks to bert_nerdsen for image)
Although I have not actually played this game, I am happy to see that Eleanor and Beravor made it in. Oh, and also my girl:
(thanks to Jambosson for image)
From what I have seen, Fantasy Flight has also done a good job including females in random action cards, increasing their presence overall.
(thanks to princemousey for image)
I have heard some players mention their disappointment in the number of usable female heroes in this game. Having never played the game, I can't really comment. To anyone who is reading this: Have they created any other unique female characters for the game?
So, as some kind of a conclusion, I guess I'd have to say that LotR is a story that needs to be expanded beyond its written text. Add new stories that happened concurrently with the book text...then add in female characters. Maybe someone will make a game for the Silmarillion texts one day (there are a hell of a lot more ladies in there). Beyond the specific world of Middle-Earth, many other grand fantasy games have provided female characters, and RPGs (like D&D) now offer a wide variety of options for players to tell the stories they want to tell with the characters they want to play.
In the next post, I would like to examine another universe. One which I know far better and which also was low on female characters in the original source material: Star Wars. We'll look at how FFG has taken the above methods and applied them.
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You sit down to a new game. While the owner sets up, you flip through the available characters. Flipping each over, you find that you have both a male and a female option.
Which do you choose? How does it make you feel? Do these characters feel pre-planned or tacked-on?
Take Legends of Andor for example. Something you may notice while punching out the boards is that they are double sided:
(thanks to shnar for the images)
Beautiful, and tastefully done character options. As you embark on your fantasy quest for glory, deciding whether you are Eara the wizard or Kram the dwarf (are we back to the days where 'dwarf' was a job?) is just one extra decision you make in order to enhance your experience. Although there are no differences between the genders besides the name, both feel as though they were planned from the very beginning. Not to mention, the lack of chainmail bikinis is also well appreciated.
Besides, Legends of Andor has some of the coolest item tokens I've seen. Just look how well everything fits.
(thanks to The Innocent for the pic)
What if we step outside the realm of "generalized grand fantasy game?"
Take the influential book, Robinson Crusoe, and the game Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. It is a story about a man on an island and the other men he meets and interacts with, yes? But, what if we took it as a more generalized theme of island survival? This is what the designer decided to do with this game.
(thanks to the designer, trzewik, for the images)
Involved, tasteful, in-depth, gender-flip characters. Again, there is no difference between the two in game terms, but again, they feel like they were planned ahead of time and not just tacked-on later.
Does this mean I defend all games, based on pieces of literature, that insert female characters where they didn't exist? While I would love to, I feel that this is an unreasonable blanket statement to make. As a matter of fact, as a lover of both history and literature, if you are attempting to make a direct adaptation of a story in game media, and the story just so happens to not contain any females...that's okay.
Otherwise, you end up like Iello's recent title: Mountains of Madness. This game seeks to retell the classic Lovecraftian tale of mystery and horror.
For those who aren't familiar: the story follows an antarctic expedition. After finding a strange, almost alien city beyond a mountain range, half the expedition disappears, spurring the other half to follow them. What ensues is a descent into horror and madness, culminating in a mad escape attempt by plane.
The characters just so happen to be men. The story was written in 1931, and it is a good story. It's okay that it has just men.
(thanks to townsean for the image)
Why has Pabodie, for example, suddenly gone girl? An attempt at inclusivity? It's another game with flip gender cards. Another game without any differences between the genders. But this one is tacked on. The game was designed to mimic the story; it's not a generic Lovecraft themed adventure (if you want that, go with Eldritch Horror). You don't have to gender-flip all the specific, named characters as if it was just another box to check off on your list. "Female characters...yup, got it."
Recently, there was a kickstarter for the game Who Goes There?. I was a participant as a backer in this campaign. It is another game that is based on a specific story: in this case, Who Goes There?. This is the story that inspired the multiple movies, each titled The Thing, and is a good story. I suggest you read it. Another antarctic research team. Another all male cast. Over the course of the kickstarter campaign, at least one backer pointed out the lack of female characters. The designers stood their ground, and although I think they could have phrased some of their answers a little better, I agree that they should not be forced to shove in females as some afterthought just because people think they should be in there. Thank you for thinking of us.
Can Flip-Gender be more interesting than just a group of same-ability choices? Argent: The Consortium says, "YES INDEED!"
(thanks to Shampoo4you for the image)
These are five of characters you can play. Each one does in fact have a flipside, and the flipside does happen to be the opposite gender.
Each side is a different character. Each side has drastically different art. Each side has a unique name. Each side has a different starting spell. Each side has a different position in the university. Each side has a completely different, and well-flushed out backstory that links them to the world of Argent. Heck, one of the characters is actually an interdimensional being that only appears as a human female to fit in.
Actually, I recommend you read the backstories. They are short, but neat. And then play the game. Really. (Even if you use the popular variant which adjusts how marks work.)
Does this mean that I don't expect to ever see any female characters added into existing IPs that may be either low or devoid of them? Well...no. You have to take it in context. So, next time, I will delve into games based on Lord of the Rings and what certain developers have done there to include more diversity.
Until next time!
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10 Mar 2018
For the very first post, I wanted to give you an idea of what this blog will be covering. As such, I have selected a slightly older game: FFG's Sid Meier's Civilization.
(thank you to Surya for the image)
In its first release, this game supplied six starting nations, two of which had female leaders:
(^^^Holy midriff Batman!)
(thank you to Tjohei for the images)
While I would have preferred 50%, I felt that 1/3 was a decent ratio. But when I took a closer look, the history geek in me flared up. I noticed that Russia had been included in the starting lineup and that they had selected Catherine the Great. I felt this was a great choice, despite them apparently having mixed up "The Great" with "Zeta-Jones." That is, until I took a closer look at the civilization card's starting government: Communism.
Who here remembers their history (or, at least, has access to google and wikipedia)?
Catherine's Russia couldn't have been farther from the USSR. In fact, even though she absorbed and introduced many of the contemporary, western European ideas of her times into herself and her country, she was greatly responsible for segmenting the Russian government into more layers, leading the peasant population farther away from any sort of equality.
Taking into account some of the other leaders that were included (such as Otto von Bismarck and Chairman Mao), it seemed to me that they had intended to release the game with either Vladimir Lenin or Joseph Stalin in charge, but made the change to Catherine later on. Unfortunately, whether or not it was the intention, this ignorance makes Catherine seem like a afterthought or a tack-on, which is extremely unfortunate.
China was also included as one of the starting civilizations, and its leader was Chairman Mao.
Chairman Mao's starting tile along with three leaders from the Fame and Fortune expansion, one of which is Queen Isabella of Spain
(thank you to adv666 for the image)
The fact that he does not begin with the communism government just lends itself to laziness and makes Catherine seem even more like pandering. However, they removed Mao in the second and future printings, replacing him with Wu Zetian instead, which I am quite happy with.
(thank you to tjohei for the image)
The next two expansions gave us another female leader each: Queen Isabella I of Spain, and Queen Elizabeth I of England. While I wish there were more, I am decently content with these choices.
*I don't want anyone to think that I dislike FFG. Actually, Fantasy Flight Games is one of my favorite game companies. They have made many great games, and I have a much praise for many of them regarding the inclusion of female characters, which I will cover in later articles.
Next time, I would like to focus on something that I have noticed multiple designers/publishers doing: Flip gender characters, where you can choose whether to play a male or a female version of a specific character. Some have done a great job with this, while some have fallen disappointingly short.
Until next time....
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