Published on August 3rd, 2014 | by Colin2
Cardcore Gamer: “What’s wrong with being sexy?”
In my review of their zombie survival co-op game Dead Panic, I commended Fireside Games for the equal balance of male to female player characters and their mostly non-gender-typical roles (male paramedic, female convict), but while they gave us the tough-looking Barbara, Cool Mini or Not gave us ‘Double D Dakota’.
Dakota is one of several survivor characters from the Zombicide series of miniatures board games and is by no means the only example of the routinely sexualised representation of female characters, living and undead. What’s that? Oh yes, she may be a stumbling corpse, but why not show off her thong? Apparently, when the zombies get you, your clothes strategically rot away before you do. This isn’t limited to just one game either, CMoN recently published the fantasy sports title Kaosball with a parade of athletes with unlikely proportions. I know some will claim that this is just a stylistic thing, but that does not preclude body types other than ‘shiny-titted pornstar’ – it’s deliberate, sexist and it does the table-top gaming hobby no favours.
Cool Mini or Not are not the only offenders – female characters in the Fantasy genre have long been plagued with the notorious ‘chainmail bikini’ – and the good news is that most games aren’t saddled with this sort of representation, maybe because it’s hard to sculpt breasts onto little wooden cubes, but as table-top gaming increases in popularity, game producers need to be aware that inclusivity is vital. While Soda Pop Miniatures may have their ‘Soda Pop Girls‘ and a professional glamour model promoting the ‘sexy schoolgirls and tentacle monsters’ game Tentacle Bento, other companies are wising up. Boobs-and-butt characters like Red Scorpion from Fantasy Flight’s Descent: Journeys in the Dark have been ditched in favour of more practical designs in the 2nd edition and where rule books previously addressed the player as ‘he’, most now use gender-neutral pronouns and mixed-gender players in their examples of play.
Board gaming is growing in popularity as the new ‘geeky’ hobby of choice and the old stereotype of the pimply, bespectacled nerd has been airbrushed into pop-geek cool. It is an exciting time for the hobby, as more people discover and create games, form groups and spread the word. Gamers and designers both need to ensure that table-top games remain inclusive and approachable to all new players and not use the excuses of stylised art, or genre tropes to defend the sign on the clubhouse door which reads ‘No Girls!’