Toronto Metropolitan University
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"I Didn't See Anyone Who Looked Like Me": Gender and Racial Representation in Board Gaming

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posted on 2024-06-16, 21:24 authored by Tanya Pobuda

Through a variety of mixed methods, this PhD dissertation asks whether a lack of diversity in the labour of board game design, and a lack of representation of women and non-binary, Black, Indigenous, Persons of Colour (BIPOC) in artwork of popular games acts as a potential barrier for board gaming cultures' potential growth, wider mainstream cultural adoption, and creates the conditions for exclusion and marginalization for those who identify as women, LGBTQiIA+, and BIPOC? The research conducted in support of this dissertation found that 92.6 percent of the labour of board game design was that of white-identified, male-identified creators in a sample of the top-ranked 400 board games on the global game repository, BoardGameGeek (BGG). This study further found that of the human representation found on the cover art of the boxes of the top 200 BGG games, images of men and/or boys represented 76.8 percent of the sample or 647 figures. Women and/or girls were represented 23.2 percent of the time or 195 figures in total compared to men. Only 17.5% of the human representation was that of Black, Indigenous, Persons of Colour (BIPOC) on the cover art of board games or 112 total figures, versus 528 images of white figures which represented 82.5 percent of the sample. Further, 320 respondents to an online survey shared that representation was a notable factor in their perceptions of, and behaviours within the hobby and industry, with 84.9 percent of the respondents indicating that diverse gender and racial representation was a problem in contemporary board games. A correlation was located in the representation of women, and BIPOC in game design and artwork and board game consumers play and purchase decision-making.





  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Dissertation

Thesis Advisor

Jason Boyd



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    Communication and Culture (Theses)


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