GIRLS ON GAMES by Elisa Teague

So, what's it like being a woman in the world of gaming?  What progress has been made towards gender equality, and what horror stories do women have?  What great stories do women have from gaming, and what do they experience in the workplace and at conventions?  Girls on Games: A Look at the Fairer Side of the Tabletop Industry by Elisa Teague is a collection of essays by women is various professional positions in the gaming industry (including several essays by Elisa Teague herself).

Girls on Games has a very diverse number of perspectives on what gaming means for women.  Some essays deal with sexism and feminism head-on, as in "What Army Does Your Boyfriend Play?" "Pitching (a Game) like a Girl" and "Being 'Girly' and a Gamer.  Yes, You Can Be Both."  Other times gender barely enters into the discussion.  There are inspiring stories about the love of and experiences in gaming, and awful stories of seixst treatment professionally, at game stores with assumptions that women are there for their boyfriends or don't know anything about the games, or at conventions where, no matter their experience or role there, women are assumed to be "booth babes."  (And one actual "booth babe" has an essay here as well.)  There is even discussion of sexuality, from one company owner who's polyamorous (and a hippie) to the woman who wrote the first transexual character in Pathfinder.  And the "fake geek girl" stereotype comes up an awful lot.

Girls on Games is a very informative and useful book about what it can be like for women in the world of gaming.  There are as many looks at game design and professional advancement as playing Magic: The Gathering at a local store or attending gaming conventions.   And despite the many examples of sexism, the book resists the urge to bash the male gender: There's plenty of praise for good guys in the gaming world, plus the introduction is by Mike Selinker and there are several relevant cartoons from John Kovalic.

There were a few distracting typos in the book, but overall Girls on Games is a very good take on a side of gaming that often doesn't get enough attention.  The tales and experiences here are informative, funny, scary, intelligent, show a love of gaming and offer solutions on how its problems can be solved or improved.  Girls on Games should be a must-read book for anyone interested, personally or professionally, in the world of tabletop games.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch
(who, thanks to Kickstarter, has an autographed copy of the book)

No comments: