The Games Manufacturers Association has been called upon to take steps in countering isolated cases of reported sexual harassment at this year’s Origins Game Fair.
Members of the tabletop and board gaming community have been vocal across social media in highlighting behaviour regarded as ‘sexually inappropriate and aggressive’ during the five day Game Fair in Ohio, US.
It has been indicated that the alleged – a senior member of a well-known US board games publisher – instructed victims, including members of the UK community, to "play-test his penis" over the course of the show. GAMA has been informed of the incident and is expected to take action while the alleged is yet to issue an response to accusations.
While all parties involved will remain un-named in this article, it highlights the breadth of issues that still surround the up and coming tabletop and board gaming community, including those of harassment and representation.
Recently, larger publishers have been called upon to do more to break down the barriers surrounding the world’s growing board game community.
An increasing number of independent publishers in the UK, across Europe and in the US hold the belief that while board gaming is flourishing, more needs to be done to be inclusive of all genders, sexuality, ethnicity and more.
Recent figures from the UK’s own UK Games Expo reveal that audiences within the space are still skewed, with a divide of 65:35 in favour of males. Many believe the numbers are both reflective of and influential upon the level of representation found within the games community.
James Frew is an independent designer and publisher from the UK and creator of the tabletop card game, The Old Hellfire Club. Set on a backdrop of Victorian Britain, the game boasts to be representative with an even divide of male and female characters, 20 per cent of which are representative of people of colour.
An LGBTQ+ friendly expansion pack is also in development.
Frew is among a number of independent UK publishers who recognise the barriers around the board gaming scene and its tendency to be viewed as an echo chamber when it comes to dealing with larger topics.
“While the tabletop community is generally consciously welcoming, that isn’t to say that the picture as a whole is rosy,” he told ToyNews. “Go to any gaming group and I think you are most likely to find it populated by white, middle class men with white collar careers.
“It would be great to see bigger publishers running internships or mentoring programmes for people in disadvantaged groups, to see them reaching out to engage with schools or underprivileged areas to show what they do.
“As a community we are working towards better representation in games – it’s slow and frustrating, but I think it is coming. However, I think that looking at how people play games and how they can be adapted to support new people to enter the hobby as an area for attention.”