It’s 2017, and the world has changed. We’ve moved past the notion of female gamers being unicorns, or that games are just made by guys for guys. Women aren’t just playing games, they’re also involved in the tabletop industry on every level, from designing and distribution, to running FLGSs, commentators, and instructors of hobbying on prominent geek sites.
Here are four women involved in the industry you should know and whose work we think you would love.
ELISA TEAGUE – DESIGNER
The title of designer falls short when describing this woman’s various roles in the tabletop industry, having worn hats in art direction, production management, game design, and inventor relations. Elisa’s love of tabletop gaming started at a young age, playing strategy games, solving codes, and puzzles for fun, but never occurred to her as a career. She described the happenstance of falling into the world of tabletop, while on a break from her original vocation in the fashion industry: “Dan Rowen from Playroom Entertainment was just starting that business and needed some part time design help. My love of games kept me there, and my position grew from simple game developer and graphic designer to Sr. Director of Product Development by the time I left the company.”
She’s worked on over 100 games over her career, with the most prominent and recognized being the Geek Out! series of games (including the recently released family edition and the upcoming Big Bang Theory licensed edition) and Widow’s Walk, the expansion to Betrayal at House on the Hill.
She also successfully Kickstarted and edited Girls On Games: A Look At the Fairer Side of the Industry, a book of essays about the tabletop industry from by prominent women within the industry. The project had a small goal of $2.5K but ultimately raised over 19K, and the book is now available for purchase. She describes the project as an important one for her, both personally and professionally. “The climate of bias against women in the tabletop game industry has gotten better year by year, but we still have a long way to go, and I felt that the book was a great way to get the conversation started.”
She’s currently wrapping up Lone Shark’s Kickstarted project Apocrypha! which she contributed to as Art Director and in development. You can keep up with her many projects on Twitter.
BRITTANIE BOE – MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION
She’s known most prominently in the world of tabletop as the unstoppable Bebo, editor of TheGameWire.Com, host of the GameWire YouTube channel, and handles the social media for the brand. The GW brand is the marketing arm of GTS Distribution, of which Bebo is the face. Helping people learn about new and exciting games (as well as fun classics) is her job, and one she relishes.
She came from an industry that is the opposite of fun and games: insurance, where she worked as a marketer for various insurance companies. She ended up landing her first job within the tabletop industry from volunteering for Cryptozoic at PAX, where she demoed a game so successfully that the game sold out at the convention. The marketing manager of Cryptozoic, seeing her potential, ended up encouraging her to apply for a marketing position with GTS Distribution. She described how her experience in the world of deductibles and liability landed her the gig in a universe of dice and meeples: “My insurance experience in business-to-business marketing, as well as business-to-consumer marketing, was a huge part in getting me hired.”
She is also a huge champion for diversity within games themselves. “The first thing I learned was to take the time to praise positive diversity when I see it; it doesn’t matter how much you call out poor representation of women and POC if you’re not also thanking the people who are doing it right,” she recounts. As a Latina mother of a young daughter, as well as having a huge circle of friends from all backgrounds, being able to see herself and those she loves in the games she loves is important to her.
ELIZABETH BECKLEY – HOBBY PROFESSOR & PROFESSIONAL PAINTER
While the niche of tabletop miniature gaming has historically been dominated by men as consumers, the hobby side in painting has had better representation across all genders, and as a result, many prominent female professional painters have emerged, despite the long hours, high turnover and creative challenges that come with being a professional artist. Elizabeth Beckley has not only broken through as a renowned professional painter, with her work being used to market highly popular tabletop games, such as Kingdom Death and Arcadia Quest, but she’s partnered with fellow pro-painter Aaron Lovejoy to start Miniature Monthly, where they teach both basic and masterclass hobby skills.
She credits her involvement in the industry from having a background as both a tabletop gamer and hobbyist. “I was interested in Dungeons & Dragons and played monthly games with my Uncle, who one day held up a miniature and pointed out that the little figures we gamed with could be painted,” she recounts. “As I got better, I decided I wanted to paint for studios and make a living off of painting full time. I approached a small company about painting their miniatures for them, they took a chance on me and said yes.”
SUZANNE SHELDON – COMMENTATOR & REVIEWER
Dice Tower is ubiquitous as a source of information about tabletop online, and Suz is a prominent contributor. She talked about how she started as a fan of DT and approached them. “I realized that there weren’t a lot of women or Asian contributors. I emailed Tom Vasel to see if he could use his platform and following to elevate the visibility of women in gaming. Tom was quite gracious about it,” she describes, as Tom himself wanted to tackle but felt unable to fully address it as a white male gamer.
While she stepped up to be the change she wanted to see in tabletop commentary, and we here have previously discussed her commentary about diversity, she isn’t simply a token voice on the platform, relegated to talking about diversity issues. She continually covers topics pertinent to all gamers, starting her segment on boardgame apps for Board Game Breakfast over two years ago and taking over the crowdfunding segment last year. Her perspective on the broad range of tabletop topics is one reason you should be keeping up with her.
Who are women in the world of geek we should know about? Let us know in the comments below so we can feature them in a future article!
Featured Image Credit: GameWire (With Permission)
Blog Image Credits: Elisa Teague, Brittanie Boe, Elizabeth Beckley-Bradford, Suzanne Sheldon (With Permission)