Improving Diversity In Miniature Gaming

Warkorea_American_SoldiersRecently, over on Beastsofwar, there was a series of discussions on the forum about whether Games Workshop was racist or not. As is the way with these things, it bled sideways into various related topics and became somewhat heated at times. I’m not interested in pointing fingers at specific companies as I don’t think it’s helpful (or provable). What I’m more interested in is seeing what can be done to make a positive change, and I’d like to know what you think too.

To start with, let’s define the problem. I think we can all agree that the representation of race, gender and other minorities in science fiction and fantasy media does not reflect the relative proportions of these minorities in the real world. I mean this both in the context of their fictional creatures and stories as well as the audiences that enjoy them. This is probably worse in fantasy than SF.

Actually, let’s narrow that down. What I’m interested in here is games. Specifically, I’m thinking about miniature games. Board games and video games are different topics (as are movies, comics, etc), and for various reasons the games themselves as well as their audiences include more women. Whether the racial bias is any different I couldn’t say as I’ve not seen any stats on that. Sexual preference is something that is rarely touched upon in anything other than as an assumed heterosexuality.

So, miniature games, and SF/F ones at that.¹

It may not always seem obvious that there is this bias, but look at a big crowd of gamers and you can’t miss it. In my many years in the gaming world I’ve been to  a lot of events. One thing that has always puzzled me is the obvious lack of non-white faces in the crowds. Sure, there are often a couple of individuals, but we’re talking here of a couple of percent rather than a couple at each game. The 2011 census data for the UK says that 13% of the population is non-white. I’m pretty sure we don’t get near half of that. This may be different in other countries (in which case I’d be interested to hear about it). In the USA the non-white percentage is higher (c20%). Do they do any better? Not on any evidence I’ve seen.

I suspect there is a bit of chicken-and-egg going on here. Companies make models in their own image and that of their customers (the majority of both of which are white heterosexual males). Without strong minority characters potential players from minorities feel excluded and are pushed away. Round and round it goes.

 

Why Bother?

Is a lack of diversity a problem? I think it is. It matters for a number of reasons. Let’s ignore the quicksands of morality, fairness or whatever, and stick purely to selfish motives. Miniature gaming is a niche hobby and there aren’t many of us. We are a minority ourselves. Adding a representative number of new gamers from the various ethnic, gender, sexual preference and other minorities that are currently woefully underrepresented would help in two obvious ways:

  1. More people playing = more money within the industry. A stronger miniature gaming industry benefits anyone that enjoys its products.
  2. More opponents. Everyone needs someone to play against. More gamers = more opponents.

So even if you have no interest in helping anyone other than yourself, it is in your best interests to remove barriers to new gamers, whatever their race, colour, creed, or anything else.

 

How?

Many of the comments I’ve heard from the few gamers I’ve met from ethnic minorities suggest that it is, in part, a lack of characters to identify with that is off-putting.² The same goes for many women I’ve asked.

Obviously there is a cost issue as well. Some games are expensive to play and miniature gaming is a middle class hobby at least in part because of this. If fewer minorities are in that income bracket then that would clearly reduce the number taking part. This aspect we can’t do much about. However, I’m a long way from convinced that gaming is so expensive compared to other hobbies that it is genuinely not an option for the bulk of people. Certainly, when we talk about a gender bias or sexual preference rather than ethnicity there is much less economic argument.

Is this as simple as:

  • Including cultural analogues of Chinese or African countries and mythologies in the background?
  • Including a gay hero?
  • Making miniatures of women without their boobs on show?
  • Introducing someone from one of these minorities to miniature gaming?
  • Making more models of ethnic minorities?
  • Painting our models in a variety of skin tones?

What do you think? Specifically, what can we practically do to increase the diversity of miniature gamers? Is there anything, or is this too large an issue?

It would be especially interesting to hear from people who are already bucking this trend.

 

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1: Historical miniature games are full of potential for non-PC jollities for the simple reason than history itself is. Our 21st century, decadent-West view of morality is not one that has been shared by many races and cultures, and if you want to represent a historical situation you need to deal with all of it. Nor was this confined to the distant past. For example, in WWII US Army units were segregated by race, and black units frequently got grave digging and other menial and unpleasant tasks rather than combat duty (with all its social connotations of heroism and nobility). To show them otherwise is inaccurate. Incidentally, the photo at the top of the page is from the Korean War.

2: Not always though. Sometimes it’s the overtly racist behaviour of an individual staff member or gamer that puts them off, and that behaviour should be challenged where it occurs. Unfortunately, such fools exist across society, not just in miniature gaming.

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97 Responses to Improving Diversity In Miniature Gaming

  1. Renzo says:

    What happens in games that use miniatures with neutral miniature representation? I mean, without gender/race/sexual preference representation, like games of starship or mech battles. In these games there are no caracters to identify directly and could be anything the player would like them to be. Is there the same bias in these games?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Good point. I’ve no idea. My suggestions were not definitive, but a starting point, so perhaps the lack of minority characters is a red herring. Maybe it’s being seen as a bunch of nerds that’s the problem (entirely possible).

      I just think it’s an awful lot of potential gamers to ignore.

      • Ben says:

        Despite my singling out of GW, I think this is more about the collective image the industry presents rather than the components of a given game. Part of that collective image is the people who are playing the games, but it’s also the worlds which we play in. The overall impression we give via our games is one which has very little diversity. That some games have no gender or ethnic markers doesn’t change that.

  2. Ben says:

    On the diversity of America con attendees, I can only speak to my recent experience at GenCon. There was a sizable minority of female attendees, very few non-white attendees. Furthermore, I played three board games and two card games with female gamers, I did not play a single minis game with a female gamer. I did not play a single game of any kind with non-white gamers. One final point worth noting, in four of those five instances of games I played with female gamers, the person was attending with their male partner.

    All of that matches my own anecdotal experiences in the UK. I’m more likely to encounter a female gamer in boardgames, card games, and rpgs (which I didn’t do at GenCon so can’t comment there), than in minis games. It is often the case that the person’s partner is a male gamer and that is how they began gaming. I’m not more or less likely to encounter a non-white gamer no matter what the game is.

    All of the things that you list are things we can do, though there is only so much that can be done. I do believe that GW can make a difference (and are best placed to make a difference) if they make a concerted and overt effort to appeal to non-white and female gamers. I do believe that something as simple as representing a diversity of gender and ethnicity will help. People’s expectations are impacted by it and it does lead to exclusion of people who don’t feel represented.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      GW, as the big fish in our small pond, is obviously best placed to make what difference is possible. I doubt whether they are even slightly interested in doing so.

      How much difference is possible outside a large corporate determination is hard to judge. Not enormous amounts, I would guess. That was why I thought it would be interesting to hear if anyone had any better ideas.

  3. Danny says:

    It is strange that, in SF and Fantasy gaming, different sentient species (always called races in Fantasy) are given equal footing to humans yet within the human species in these games, they’re very much (not always) white hetero-dudes or super sexed up chics. I don’t think this is really the case so much with historical wargaming, there are armies for a great number of nations (and thereby human races) for historical gaming.

    Even though I understand the principle of “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept” and agree with that, and also agree that race and gender should be represented equally in general, I take more of a pragmatic approach, in that I understand that its a bit of a catch 22 between a companies need to make a profit and that same companies need to target a specific audience to make those profits.

    Take the heroes from Dungeon Saga for example. With these types of games, people like to immerse themselves in the game and a part of doing that for many people is imagining yourself as the hero you are playing. The real target audience for this game will be early teen males and upwards. So it follows that it would be a good business decision, if you have a limited amount of heroes you can include, to make the majority of them male. People who are always looking for an opportunity to be offended will keep digging until they find it…so they’ll see sexism here.

    I don’t see a need to make gay miniatures, because being gay isn’t a specifically visual thing. A gay man can imagine that a regiment of soldiers are all gay if he wants to, he can make a back story for them and tell his opponents of it.

    Would more women get into miniature wargaming if there were more female miniatures, and ones that didn’t sexualise women to the extent that many current miniatures do…I don’t know, maybe. I think women just aren’t generally attracted to miniature wargaming for reasons other than this.

    Would more non white dudes get into wargaming if companies marketed their products with more miniatures painted in non white skin colours…this would be more likely than the above two I think.

    I think wargaming though is a hobby that is more one of opportunity than anything else and that to provide opportunity in peoples lives is really out of the scope of gaming companies.

    In regards to percentages of non white gamers. In my experience, I’ve observed that there are quite a number of Asian gamers in and around where I live. This will likely change from region to region and even the gaming circles within which you play.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      As you say, people are always happy to seek offence (see Ludo and Tinfish below for examples of that). However they miss my point. This is about throwing the net wider to haul in new gamers. It benefits everyone in the hobby.

      To use DS as an example, I’ve already had a number of comments by parents wanting to get their girls playing, and who see the small number of female characters as a hindrance to this. It’s pretty clear to me that greater diversity would help bring more people into the hobby. How many people that would be though, that’s a tricker one to answer. It could be a lot of effort for one more person.

      • Ben says:

        “How many people that would be though, that’s a tricker one to answer. It could be a lot of effort for one more person.”

        There are obviously no guarantees of success no matter what the industry tries. Any success we do achieve will probably start low and build momentum from there. Today’s one gamer is tomorrow’s ten gamers is next year’s one thousand gamers.

      • Danny says:

        I saw a few comments posted on the DS KS comments page by parents wanting to get their girls playing. As is often the case, the loud minority give the appearance of a larger representation. I often wonder if people like this are looking for offense and when they find something they can sink their teeth into they stick with it unreasonably so.

        If a parent wants to get their daughter to start playing a board game, like DS for example, and they feel that the company should steer the direction of its product against what market research suggests is the most profitable avenue just to please them…then that parent has extreme tunnel vision with more than a touch of selfishness and self entitlement…not to mention a lack of basic problem solving skills, most of which is just pure common sense.

        I have an 8 yr old daughter who **does** play (I’m not just **trying** to get her into it) board and tabletop wargames with me, although she is much less interested in tabletop wargames…it would be more accurate to say that she participates in those, not being interested enough to really take to them like she does with board games, even fairly complex board games. I like to see one or two females miniature provided in games that I buy (in games that use miniatures to represent players or the like). Not for a moment though, do I expect, especially for wargaming tabletop games, a company to provide an equal amount of female miniatures, because quite simply their target audience (not the loud minority – but their entire target audience) would prefer otherwise.

        Reaper, Ironwind Metals, Ral Partha, Darksword Miniatures…and a very long list of miniature companies provide a HUGE range of female characters for a few dollars. I have several female characters for my daughter and wife to use when playing these types of games.

        If people are trying to get their daughter into games like DS, and they feel they cannot do so because the company producing the game did not provide enough female miniatures…then quite simply, they’re not trying hard enough.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          An interesting point. However, it also illustrates what I was saying in that you are expecting someone to go out of their way to fid the tools to recruit someone. Obviously this is a hurdle to doing so.

          I’m not suggesting that we should mirror an exact percentage of every group in reality to create a perfect reflection of that in our games. What I am suggesting is that many groups feel that they do not have the representation within the games that would make them feel comfortable or encouraged to play. I’ve heard that time and time again from many people over many years. It seems to me that more gamers would be a good thing.

        • Danny says:

          I agree with your underlying message here, Jake, in that it would be beneficial to the worldwide gaming community to make the effort to help those who don’t feel welcome or represented, to feel welcome/comfortable/represented so that there will be more gamers in the future…I don’t see why anyone would disagree with that.

          My point is that I don’t feel that it is a companies responsibility to deal with this. If you try to include everyone…then for each miniature you will need to have multiples and it would get absurd very quickly…and if you choose to leave some out, then you are becoming a victim of your making (using the words you and your in a generic way – not actually you yourself).

          If I design a game with four characters in it and want to cater for everyone so everyone feels included, then I am going to need to make a truck load of miniatures. For each character I will need dozens of versions – Male and female versions of all, young, middle aged and old aged versions of all, disabled versions of all, several different versions to cover the different racial features we have on Earth etc, etc….and that’s just for a single character in the game, let a lone the other three characters.

          You either cater to everyone and go bankrupt (and then no one gets anymore games), or you cater to some (and get labeled with whatever form of discrimination you would like to insert here for not representing those you left out) or you just make a game and expect that people are mature enough to accept the limitations of a business to provide gaming pieces and/or to provide their own versions.

          I really don’t understand the mentality of not playing a game because it doesn’t have a suitable representation of me in it…that’s a very fragile mindset. I’ve played Monopoly as a dog…I’ve played a Tinkerbell game and was a fairy…that’s not how I imagine myself 🙂

          I can understand if people do not feel welcome because other players did not make them feel welcome, for sure…and although that is present in gaming groups, its a much larger social problem and not a specific gaming problem. There’s only so much a company can do to make the massive variety of people out there feel represented and welcome in a board game or tabletop wargame.

        • PikaRapH says:

          I would add one of the biggest problem is that lots of people still think gaming is for children T_T
          That’s what prevent some part of the society to try and play (beyond those who feel excluded) : grown-ups must do anything serious, not playing games ! When my neighbours see me creating Deadzone scenery they may think I’m a child ^^ They don’t know gaming is serious business !
          This is changing, we (talking about us in terms of age, who have interest and money to make the business grow) made things change by buying, participating, creating. Look at the production 10 years ago, there have been some change !

        • Ben says:

          I think you’re absolutely right to say that there is only so much a company can do, but that isn’t an excuse for doing nothing, though. It’s too reductionist to talk in terms of potential-player-X won’t play game Y because game Y doesn’t represent potential-player-X’s gender/ethnicity/sexuality. This is a much broader issue of the collective image we represent as a bunch of white boys playing with their white boy toys. Any gamer who expresses a feeling of alienation is the tip of a far larger iceberg of potential gamers that never give our industry a second look (or even a first look) because it’s not something that they would ever think to do. Going back to the start of this paragraph, there is a limit as to what can be achieved and simply having more diversity isn’t magically going to bring all these potential gamers in, but it can be the start of a long-term process of change.

          I don’t think anyone has suggested that every game reflect every possible diversity, that’s taking the argument to an absurd degree. It’s a collective lack of diversity across the industry that needs to be addressed. Putting some female IG or SM minis into the line, or even just having the ‘Eavy Metal team paint up some existing models as other ethnicities and then featuring them in WD or on the boxes is a step in the direction. I do appreciate that there are already female Space Marines in the form of Sisters of Battle, but these are female marines designed to appeal to teenage boys. What I’m talking about are female marines who line up alongside the male marines in the same units and the only difference between them is their gender.

        • In the early years, a decent amount of female Imperial Guard figures were produced. Then GW stopped making them.

    • Ben says:

      Certainly in historical gaming there’d be little point in trying produce minis that were meant to be homosexual, but fantasy and sci-fi minis games are often tied very closely to accompanying narrative and you could very easily have some homosexual characters that have minis.

  4. Danny says:

    “Specifically, what can we practically do to increase the diversity of miniature gamers?”

    Provide opportunity.

    My sons (well, my younger son, my older son has left school as is now an apprentice carpenter) go to a school with a fairly large Asian percentage, quite a few Indian and quite a few Pacific Islanders. My younger son has several non white friends and he’s invited a couple of his best friends around a few times for games. I struggle badly though with other people touching my miniatures…especially teenagers who don’t understand how much time and effort goes into painting them…

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I know what you mean. You’ll just have to educate them on the amount of effort it takes. Sometimes just showing them how they come and explaining the steps to go through can click on that lightbulb. Or, invite them over and get them to try paint something themselves. That’ll teach them how easy it isn’t 😉

      • Danny says:

        :O You mean let them touch my brushes!!!!!!!! I think I feel the beginnings of a panic attack coming on 🙂

        Seriously though, yeah, including people in social activities, like gaming, or a bring and paint session, is definitely a good way to provide opportunity to people to become involved in gaming.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Maybe you should buy some “guest” brushes. Save your blood pressure.

          Seriously though, even that could be presented as a reflection of the skill needed to do the task. Mere novices haven’t the ability to use the finest of tools yet, that takes practice…

        • Danny says:

          Next time I’m gaming with my son and a friend or two of his, I’ll work the conversation around to the modelling side of the hobby and see if there’s any interest there. My son has a mild interest in the modelling side of the game. Feathering my own nest I suppose, but I like to think as my sons leave home over the next few years that they’d still like to come around for gaming sessions every-now-and-then, and deliberately taking steps to get their friends more deeply involved will of course increase the chances of me having opponents into the future at home here 🙂 The modelling side of the hobby is not for everyone, but if they’re interested there, I’d be more than happy to point them in the right direction.

  5. Sean says:

    It’s an interesting point but I don’t think it’s worth getting too hung up about.

    The wonderful thing about unpainted miniatures is that we are free to paint our models however we wish. Until we add brush to plastic they are effectively race neutral.

    I have a friend of Asian descent who I rope into gaming with me sometimes. I can’t help but think he would be a little offended if I tried to paint a brown skinned hero for him to dungeon crawl with, but maybe I should ask what he thinks.

    I think the idea of taking inspiration from Asian and African influences in fantasy sounds good but has the potential to cause more problems than it solves. Can you imagine Warhammer Pygmy’s being released now?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Can’t say that I’m hung up about this. I just think it’s an interesting and potentially quite an important topic. Imagine if we produced a miniatures game that women wanted to play and doubled the number of gamers. Don’t you think that would make a difference to the hobby as a whole?

      I’d never suggest you forced people to play with models that matched their ethnicity, sexual preference or gender. What I have heard many times over many years is that the lack of option is off-putting. If you look at MMOs as an example, a large number of people play avatars that are different from themselves (even ignoring elves, orcs, etc). There’s no need to force a particular choice on anyone or require them to play X because they are X in real life. It’s just useful that the choice be there.

      When I mentioned using other influences, I meant things like their myth cycles or cultural structures. Warhammer pygmies were extreme stereotypes that I can imagine many find offensive. Foundry pygmies, on the other hand, are much closer to the historical version.

      • Sean says:

        It’s a tough one because fantasy (especially in the case of warhammer) relies heaily on grotesque stereotypes of real world cultures. I just don’t think it’s possible to create an african influenced army without straying into ‘bongo-bongo land’ territory, And I don’t think anyone want’s to see that.

        I definitely agree that doing something that reaches out to a wider audiance can only be a good thing for our hobby,

    • Ben says:

      “I can’t help but think he would be a little offended if I tried to paint a brown skinned hero for him to dungeon crawl with, but maybe I should ask what he thinks.”

      I suspect you’re probably right, though I also wouldn’t want to speak for him :). Similarly to the point made about games with no gender or ethnic markers, this isn’t really about hanging out an Asian character like a painted carrot and hoping it draws a specific ethnicity in, rather it’s about creating an image that our industry is one which is welcoming to everyone. It’s easy to underestimate the effect of this sort of exclusion when you’re not among the groups that are excluded.

  6. Ludo says:

    oh come on, is all that political correctness stuff going to invade my hobby time as well???

    “To start with, let’s define the problem. I think we can all agree that the representation of race, gender and other minorities in science fiction and fantasy media does not reflect the relative proportions of these minorities in the real world.”

    Problem? What problem? How does this affect anybody’s life?
    What minority? Have you ever looked at the world? Really looked? Whites are the minority on this planet.
    Problems with fantasy? I agree, elves, dwarves, ogres are severly overrepresented compared to real life (really, you want to drag fantasy into this discussion)

    It’s simple, this hobby originated in the UK, a mainly white country so it is only normal that SF humans tend to look white. Do you think that if Indians started this, they wouldn’t look like them? Just like Indian or Chinese authors probably don’t write about white people in Europe, but about people in their own culture, we base our make believe worlds on our culture.

    • Tinfish says:

      Is it ok for me to stop buying things advertised on TV? Most adverts seem to be aimed at blacks and Muslims, I don’t see many white folks in them, so I should just stop buying those products?

      It’s the company who paint models who are racists for not giving them black skin, so obviously the company who show only africans in their adverts are racists againts whites, and Orientals, etc.

      Maybe if some dickhead picks up a box, sees only skin colour, he is a racist asshole and the whole world should not bend over backwards to make him happy.

      As for the other arguement, for every model you see of a female who looks sexy, there are probably close to 100 who do not have the cheecake vibe. Maybe I should whine about the millions of male models running about with no shirt on.

      People who talk about diversity sure seem determined to make 100% of things Identical.

      It’s the guy who started this pathetic argument who is the racist, if he wants to blame someone, then post him a mirror.

      I’m off to stew about how much I hate all things that are a different colour to me, please have a discussion on every forum on the internet about how you are all to blame for me feeling this way.

      Jesus, if a child came out with this crap they would get spanked.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      @Ludo – it doesn’t have to “invade” your hobby time if you don’t want it to. You’re quite at liberty to ignore it.

      I don’t think you actually read my post because if you had then you’d have noticed that I already explained how this affected the life of every gamer. If we had more gamers then we would have a larger and more vibrant gaming industry producing more shiny new toys to pick from and more fellow gamers to play against. It’s nothing to do with political correctness.

      I can’t see why you’d object to more games and a wider choice of opponents. Your choice though.

      @Tinfish – Did you actually have a relevant comment? I specifically said it wasn’t worth wasting time pointing fingers (which you then go and do), and diversity seems clearly to be about including difference, not making things the same (which you claim). All your comment tells me is that you’re very angry about something. It seems only tenuously linked to what I wrote above.

  7. eriochrome says:

    I have started paying more attention to the depiction of female models now that my daughter is getting closer to the age to be involved in the stuff. Way to many females in totally inappropriate attire. Some lines are better than other but I was recently looking to get a 16 player amazon team for blood bowl that are both well done and dressed in a reasonable fashion and did not find much.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Yup. And this illustrates my point perfectly.

    • Sam Dale says:

      There’s a nun team kicking around somewhere. While, yes, that’s a bit far the other way, it is a lightly armoured human ladies team, not showing much flesh.

      Or, if you’re feeling rich, should be able to get something good out of the OOP Mordheim Sisters of Sigmar with the weapons chopped.

      By definition, you’re going to struggle to find a team that’s meant to be primitives from the jungle that’s modelled with lots of clothes on. Or are you looking for “athletic” sized boobs and skirts instead of bikini bottoms?

      • eriochrome says:

        I am not exactly sure what I am looking for. A more of know it when I see it kind of thing but when I was picking teams for the recent Impact miniatures kickstarter I did not see any that both looked like well done models and did not have bikinis and such. Definitely looking for something with more clothes or pads instead of models with strategically placed leaves.

        As for the Nuns:

        No I do not think those are appropriate for my catholic preteen daughter.

      • Tyr says:

        Amazons are a bit of a tough one, considering theyve been “fetish fuel” for as long as theyve existed… which is a considerable time, considering they were thought up by ancient greeks… They were never a tribe that actually existed (or at least, nothing about the old stories is true… Cutting off one breast, all-female, etc… most likely, they were simply based on cultures that allowed *some* women to fight with the men…).
        So its really not surprising if amazons are sexualized. Theyve always been, for the last, what, 3000 years maybe? Thats the whole point of amazons.

        (which is part of why I dont like amazons.)

        • eriochrome says:

          Amazons are just the only distinctly female team. You can find female miniatures to represent a range of teams but are hard pressed to find any that would look out of place in the now defunct Lingerie Football League.

          Here is a wood elf linewoman:

          Must be the center.

          Maybe blood bowl is just a bad choice. You can do much better in generic fantasy but generally there you are looking for only a few models. If you are trying a fantasy battle game you are probably again going to run into problems.

    • Jimbo says:

      Eriochrome, may I suggest trying Dreadball instead ? The female team ‘Void Sirens’ are very professional looking women in full ‘body armour’ .

  8. PikaRapH says:

    For now we don’t have to deal with “quotas” (I don’t know how you call that in english) in boardgames as you can find in american moveis/series/shows where authors are legally forced to incorporate all “minorities”. For example, that’s quite stupid to change historical facts to add black/white/whatever people that shouldn’t appear here or there. And I find that’s also stupid to force to add every single specific social/racial/sexual manifestation (and we shouldn’t talk about races for human kind) as you can find in some SF universes.
    I think everybody is free to paint his model the color they want and each gamer can imagine which color he wants to have his minis painted.

    For girl minis and boobs, I agree, but don’t forget lots of scupltors are men… And when you watch anime, big boobs are everywhere ^^

    • Ben says:

      We would call it quotas too :). They’re a double-edged sword as they can work (the Rooney Rule in the NFL being a good example, but they can also be tokenism that doesn’t do anything to address any of the real problems. I don’t think there’d be anything wrong with whoever the next GW CEO is mandating to the creative team that in future the minis, codex fluff, Black Library novels, and whatnot have a greater range of diversity to the characters. It it takes a quote to implement that then fair enough.

      On girls and their boobies, don’t forget that most of the people buying them are men too lol. There’s nothing wrong with sexualised minis, male or female, the problem is more that in the latter case, they dominate the product that is released (as eriochrome’s comment shows :))

      • Quirkworthy says:

        @Pika – I agree that rigid quotas and rote copying of a statistical percentage is not the way forward. Adding diversity where it isn’t would be an improvement. Quite apart from anything else it would make the worlds more interesting places.

        Boobs? I agree with Ben. Cheesecake is fine as one option of several (and unsurprising in a market dominated by male sculptors and customers). It’s the lack of choice where the problems arise.

        • PikaRapH says:

          I agree with you. The one thing I don’t want is fluff, scenarios and so on driven by quota laws. If a writer/author wants to make a world where there are only blue men, so be it, creativity has to be freed from any form of constraint. I think most of people are clever enough to judge if their work goes in the right direction.
          There are codes for universe ranges that keep going on, which push writers to dig into the same way : humans dominating the galaxy, poor aliens being enslaved, dwarves and elves fighting each and so on. We need fresh ideas for sure, that will bring new things to play with.

          I like the way Mantic is working : listening customers about what they would like to see in the game : you want a dragon, here you go… you want a Ronnie naked-bard…oh no, not this one, sorry ^^
          All in all, if customers look for a specific range of minis, there will eventually be someone who could make it happen through Kickstarter-like systems : if customers want it enough it may really occur (not talking about potato salad !!)

        • davekay says:

          These comment always seem to be the first bandied around and I can only say this: right now we have a quota. That quota is 100% white male.
          I would take your comments seriously if you had ever questioned the presence of a while male in a game. But no. They get ‘free entry’ as it were, any other character depiction is immediately accused of being part of some quota.

        • sideofiron says:

          Dont choice and demand go hand in hand?

          If there is demand for more conservatively dressed look which isn’t being met, then this is a market opportunity. The absence of a thriving industry leans pretty heavily toward demonstrating that there aren’t enough gamers who care enough to make it viable.

          Maybe this is changing – Personally I prefer my wargaming to be fairly well seperate from my reality and accordingly I can appreciate all sorts of themes which would be abhorrent to me in real life.

          Slavery, Murder, Torture… If you are worried about the way things are portrayed in a board game, there are bigger issues than a bit of cleavage.

          The other aspect here is that such complaints could be seen as demonising the female form. Are you advocating that breasts need to be hidden away? Does such an approach reinforce a shame of female sexuality or ownership over their bodies?? Taking it to extremes, perhaps all female miniatures should be required to wear a burka.

        • PikaRapH says:

          Yes, there is no sense in trying to reproduce the absolute reality in agame (apart from historical things maybe, this wouldn’t be a game anymore, so go out and live ^^
          Same things happens in videogame, I prefer unrealistic things like Dead Space, Gears of War and so on. I don’t see the point playing a real-life thing.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Again, don’t get hung up on a detail about cleavage. What’s important is the range of options available, not trying to exclude any specific one. Exclusion is part of the problem, not the cure.

          Yes sideofiron, there are other (more?) important issues. However, we can’t deal with everything at the same time.

  9. Sam Dale says:

    Be curious to know if the Hordemachine demographic is different. There’s lots of ladies among the warnouns, and a decent number in among the troops.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      True. The only thing I can think of that might shed light on that is looking at the names of tournament attendees.

      • Ben says:

        The conversation on BoW that kicked this off was about GW in particular. There are a fair few companies whose lines are comparatively diverse. Malifaux has a lot of female characters, Infinity has a lot of female and non-white minis. All of which makes GW’s lack of diversity stand out even more. As they’re still the primary entry point into the hobby, especially in the UK, I don’t think most people would even be aware these other games existed.

  10. sideofiron says:

    Whilst miniature imagery may be a put off for some, how is it any different to the male miniatures? Sure the chain mail bikini sets an unrealistic body image for women, but we are talking fantasy. I don’t get put off by the abundance of rippling muscles which I certainly don’t relate to.

    If unrealistic body image discourages female participation, then the Barbie range (and most dolls) are in trouble.

    The reality is that war gaming is a social hobby. The reason the majority of players tend to be white boys people is just a reflection of people in general tending to seek cultural comfort.

    I have never and would never refuse a game with a female player, or a black player, but at the same time, I don’t feel it necessary to spread my hobby like it is some sort of evangelical exercise. I’d rather spend my weekends safely rolling dice, then knocking on doors asking people if they know about Nagash and the End Times.

    I really don’t think there is a problem – as has been highlighted by others, there are alternate product lines for those who feel uncomfortable with the traditional fantasy ‘sexy’ look.

    Geek culture barriers seem to be one aspect of society which bleed across more easily than others. In my experience geeks are not a group prone to an exclusive attitude – many of us found geek culture because it is quite accepting of our own dorkyness.

    PAXAUS last year demonstrated a much higher number of female cosplayers but events like PAX are an opportunity to experience other things. I’m primarily a war gamer, but I found myself trying a new card game against two Disney princesses.

    Including people in the hobby is the first step. As is the nature of profit, companies will follow suit with a mainstream miniature range when it is deemed profitable.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I do love the idea of knocking on doors asking about the End Times. That would be especially funny if you could find some Jehovah’s Witnesses to doorstop… “Can I speak to you about Nagash?”

      I also think there is a problem. The reason I think this is because I have been told by many people over many years that the reason they do not play is precisely this. Quite often they saw their mates playing, were interested, and then were put off when they looked in detail. I am currently talking to some friends in parallel to this, in private, who are from these groups and continue to feel that this is part of what happens within their social and ethnic groups.

      Your last point about inclusion is exactly right. I’ve just skipped past that with the assumption people will see it as a good thing, and gone straight to a way I think we can do it.

  11. davekay says:

    I don’t often visit Beasts of War, but did you mention Privateer Press in your article? They are pretty close to 50% female representation among their warcasters. Given the game’s background is that such powers manifest more or less at random, that is what you should expect too.
    With GWs medieval setting with a fantasy wash and their SF version of the same, diversity is about what you would expect.
    Also Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy magazine recently surveyed over 7,000 wargamers (mainly historical) and had a 1% female representation. That was more than I had expected. http://scentofagamer.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/a-large-wargaming-survey/

  12. Frank says:

    Games aren’t the place for identity politics. Anybody can do conversions to one’s preference without alienating a wider customer base with pushing a so-called “progressive” agenda…

    • Quirkworthy says:

      You’ve misunderstood my purpose. I’m not here to bang some PC drum or any “progressive agenda” (your term), I’m here to see if it’s possible to grow the hobby.

      Suggesting that in order to get into the hobby you have to convert your own figures is nonsensical as a realistic recruitment option. And why should more choice alienate the existing customers?

  13. Teemu Hemminki says:

    This is an interesting subject indeed. Forewarning: I’m not a native English speaker and there might be some politically incorrect terms I use, because I don’t have cultural background to know what is offensive.

    Asians are most well represented in games, thanks to Blade Runner and Ninja boom I think. Many games have “Samurai Faction” of sorts. South American culture can be seen in GW’s Lizardmen. African cultures seem to get least of space, for reasons I don’t know (wasn’t Africa a big adventurous boom in Europe a Century or two ago?)

    There actually is an Finnish RPG supplement for playing games in Somalia: Punaiset Hiekat (The Red Sands), although I haven’t read it.

    Many of you probably know that 3rd edition of D&D had this problem with Regdar, a white male fighter, who was forcefully introduced into the games art as a central character.

    I’m quite sure that you have to deliberately seek out for over-sexualized female miniatures or books that contain such illustrations.

    Although you can paint models in different skin tones, it doesn’t always look right because the sculpt is usually made to represent Caucasian people. Miniatures of different species should also have more or less variety in their coloring and tones.

    The world of Warhammer 40K would be ok to me, even if it was populated only by white people, because it is a satirical representation of Medieval Europe. But 40K certainly isn’t that way, Salamander Space Marines being the most obvious example.

    Although divergence in fiction is good and realistic, you have to be careful to not “force” it or include it only for it’s own sake. Inspiration before Idealism or something like that.

    • davekay says:

      “I’m quite sure that you have to deliberately seek out for over-sexualized female miniatures or books that contain such illustrations”

      Sadly, no.

      You have to explicitly seek out female miniatures that are *not* sexualised figures designed for the male gaze. As eriochrome shows above, good luck finding those.

      • Danny says:

        Dave, if you go to the Reaper Miniatures website and simply select “Female” in their figure finder search engine…once you get past all the Reaper Sophie Specials…I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The majority of those female heroes are sculpted without over-sexualised aesthetics. Those that are clad sparingly, are generally in keeping thematically with their male counterparts, like Barbarian females for example. Sure, if you look you’ll find some overly sexualised mini’s, but most are not.

        • davekay says:

          I was really referring back to the fantasy football discussion above, but your point on Reaper is sound. They are definitely leaders in the field, such as it is.
          I’ve been painting through their first Bones release over the past year or so and have found plenty to like, as have my two daughters.

        • eriochrome says:

          For RPG and some boardgames like Dungeon Saga, you can definitely find minis to fit the bill but that is more because they are generally built on a pretty limited frame with like 4 basic races (Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings) crossed with 4 classic classes (Fighter, Thief, Wizard, Cleric). That is only 16 combinations so you do a lot of different versions for variety. Even if you go up to like 6 races and 8 classes that is still only 48 choices. I am not sure how big reapers catalog is but I think it is pretty big (thousand) so it is not hard to find a female in those classic RPG categories.

          If you go up to a skirmish style game you often lose the ability to assemble your minis from a broad range of sources since the warbands or strike forces generally have a design theme to hold their appearance together. Some manufactures are better at bringing in female characters into groups than others. I can only go from my own collections so I look at the D&D Chainmail game from the early 00’s has a great representation of females where they are just there and honestly sometimes if you just glance at the model you would not realize it is a female.

          For the fantasy football stuff, the nun was chosen since someone specifically talked about that team. The elf is a little more over the top but it comes from the work of one of the top sculptors for independent fantasy football teams but it is not a cheerleader or special mini but part of a female wood elf team. While in the past I did not really pay attention to this but I know my daughter is drawn to female characters. I have every blood bowl team that GW has produced except for 2nd edition halflings and 2nd ed snotlings. Their is one female team, and while not sexualized like the one shown above the amazon are running around in bikini tops while male teams have players in platemail.

          Looking at the recent impact kickstarter they had 35 teams to choose from in the end. They had the Black Widows team where the players are in bikini bottoms with the exposed bottom breasts. The amazon are not to bad with loinclothes and halter tops but are to similar to the GW amazons to really be of interest. Women of Impact is a not a playable team but cheerleaders, Valkyrie team have full top coverage but again bikini bottoms. Timberline Elves literally have leaves for coverage. Maybe I am asking too much but seriously are hot pants and a full tank tops really too much. Spandex Catsuits with pads?

          If you get up to a battle style game you are pretty much out of luck outside like 1 or 2 choices. There are far fewer producers of battle games outside of historic miniatures

          Obviously, I draw a different line of sexualized models for my preteen daughter than I would when she is older or the choices she could make it I get her involved in the hobby.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          As has already been mentioned, the Void Siren models from DreadBall might be worth looking at. Really nice models, and wearing very similar kit to their male counterparts. The studio paint jobs were pink (as a joke), which I thought would look awful when I heard about it (and cringed), though it actually works quite well in practice.

  14. Jim says:

    An admirable mission, but gathering opinions from the largely white and heterosexual gaming community, is probably not the best forum to discuss this within to find a solution.

    This topic comes up from time to time and what I’ve drawn from it is that, amongst women at least, it is the restrictions (tight rules, points systems etc.) within most games that are the problem and women ‘tend’ to prefer more open formats; hence why it seems there are a lot of female RPG players in comparison.

    For everyone else I’d be guessing, but I imagine in historical games it is a lack of identification… quite simply the vast amount of history written is a story of white-male domination of the world. Women and ethnic minorities are confined to supporting roles, or in the latter case ‘the enemy’. So what’s not to like if you’re within either group?

    Fantasy and Sci-Fi are on similar lines, even Elves and Dwarves are white; in classical fantasy ‘orcs and goblins’ were black (Haradrim/Southrns were ‘brown’), but are now comedy green. They are all usually depicted as coming from a negative culture which parallels historic representations of non-white un-civilised peoples who halted the spread of civilisation… they are the tribes of the Congo and Southern Africa, or the ‘Arabs and ‘Indians’ in relative terms.

    If you want to turn ‘the hobby’ into something which is more inclusive, whatever your race/gender/sexual orientation/ability, you need to burn the whole thing down and start again… or just accept that it’s a white-man’s hobby (which is usually also homoerotic in terms of its imagery and narrative) in the main.

    Too much? 😉

    • Ben says:

      Not enough! lol

      I agree to a point. I suspect that 40K is to teenage boys what One Direction is to teenage girls. They attract a certain gender and age group by the very nature of what they are. That doesn’t mean that mini-gaming or music are only for those demographics, just these individual products within the industries appeal to particular demographics. I don’t believe that means we have to burn the house down and start again from scratch, but it probably does mean a company other than GW with a different approach to mini-gaming are more likely than GW to reach outside the demographic. There weren’t a lot of female role-players around in the 80s, for example, but games came along in the 90s which appealed to them. Games that weren’t produced by the industry giants of the 70s and 80s.

      • Jim says:

        I think you have it there for my money Ben… it is the ‘what it is’ that is the barrier and you cannot change that, hence my ‘burn it down’ remark; obviously I’m not seriously suggesting that, we just have to accept that gaming in the way we do it just does not typically appeal to everybody; including the supposed ‘gamer demographic’, whatever that is.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      @Jim – I’m not sure what gender or ethnicity my readers are. I’ve never asked. As they are (presumably) gamers, I’d guess that they are probably nearly all male and mostly white, though I know from the analytics that I have a readership from all over the world. It would be surprising if all of the non-UK and non-US hits were from white ex-pats.

      You often find siblings and parents of gamers hanging round at events looking slightly bemused. When I meet such people I ask them in person what fails to attract them. The answers I’ve been given over years of doing this is what makes me think I understand some of the barriers: I’ve heard it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

      I agree entirely that the games/rules themselves may also be a barrier. It’s hard to be sure how they might need to be presented differently as you’d need to ask people who had played and found it wanting. Not a huge group, and where do they hang out? I’d ask them if I knew. And this isn’t to say that all rules need to be adapted to suit, simply that it might be interesting to come up with some options that would appeal more. We already assume that it’s OK to design different games for different age groups, and toys are often intentionally gender biased, so why not try the same in miniature gaming?

      I disagree that the whole edifice needs burning down and starting again. That’s throwing the baby out with the bath water. Social groups can and do evolve all the time. They don’t have to be destroyed in order to make a change.

      @Ben – good point about the female role-players.

      • Jim says:

        As Ben says above, it is likely to be ‘what gaming is’ that does not appeal and as you say, without being able to ask those who don’t play, you aren’t going to get much idea of why. Of course demographics will vary, I expect that gamers within India for example, are unlikely to be white males… I do wonder what they are playing though and what the appeal is of it over other types of game.

        Mike’s comment below surprised me though, as in my limited experience within the UK, you do not tend to get such diverse gaming groups, even in areas where there is quite a mixed racial population. I think I have routinely seen one black guy (the same one actually) at a show in Wolverhampton over the years – a city which has probably the most equally balanced and diverse population in the UK. I haven’t been to the larger ones in the South and it may very well be different there for some reason.

        I have two adult girls, who have had identical-ish upbringings and while we share similar tastes in books, movies and even console games (to a point at least, Zoo Tycoon was not for me), they have zero interest in tabletop gaming (one will play ‘Last Night On Earth’ though at Christmas). When not playing FPS co-op with my son-in-law and I, they tend to prefer ‘Sim’ type games, where they can pretty much create the world they play in. Take from that what you will.

        It doesn’t appear to be the miniatures either, from what little I’ve gleaned from the odd female respondent to similar threads elsewhere. One noted that while she might not have her on table persona represented by an impossibly well-endowed figure in a chainmail bikini… a semi or totally naked Boudicca or Cartimundia leading a horde of and screaming Ancient Britons would work fine for her.

        I had an ex who was quite into Battletech, she even kept some of my books when we split, while the rest have had no interest at all in gaming whatsoever. The largest numbers of female gamers I have seen at a show together (3) were playing ‘Empire of the Dead’ as a demo game. I have known of the odd female work colleague who have played RPGs (oddly ‘Vampire: The Masquerade’ was their favourite in each case, although they played others within their group).

        Anecdotal these are and of course there is no context to ‘why’ and ‘what’ these were playing, but there you go. In simple terms and with a few exceptions however, despite the variety of game types and topics, women just don’t appear to like gaming, at least in the way most of us do it. It doesn’t follow of course that if we did it differently it might be more attractive, but as it is ‘now’ at least, it’s not pushing any buttons.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Yup, which is kind of my point. Gaming is a tiny hobby and would benefit form having more people in it. At least, I think it would.

          If we had to completely “burn down” the whole thing to attract new blood (as suggested above) then that would be silly. However, I don’t see why we cannot keep what we have and simply broaden the offer to attract some people who would otherwise not be interested.

          I’m surprised and saddened there is so much antagonism and anger at that suggestion.

  15. smittumi says:

    Well I can only speak for myself as an individual, but when I was a young nerd I always latched on to any black (or non-white for that matter) characters I could find in artwork, stories or minis. Remeber native American style Dark Angel Space Marines? When they were absent (which was frequent) it made me feel as though I wasn’t really ‘invited’ to these make-believe worlds, if that makes sense. So I for one would love to see more non-white minis, artwork etc. I agree with the opinion that it the hobby’s fluff (what draws you in in the first place) was more inclusive the end result would be more players/customers. I actually think a more pressing issue is the depiction of women, if the hobby can get that right, and beat computer games to the punch, we might have a whole wave of new players! Especially as many gamers are now dads teaching our games to the next generation.
    More inclusion of female and more non-white people in the fluff stuff would be fantastic! And there’s still going to be plenty of white male art and minis etc so that’s not a realistic worry.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Perhaps. My experience in trying to demo games to women is mainly that they often seem to want a slightly different game to the men. Could be my feeble teaching skills though 😉

  16. I think that the challenge of finding new gamers lies in convincing them that the hobby is worth their time and money in a world full of entertainment choices. I am a member of a visible minority (non-white guy as someone said) and I can say that in my case that finding a representation of my ethnic group in a miniature game hasn’t really entered my mind and I haven ‘t really thought about it until now. I just remember being shown a game by a friend (40k) that captivated my interest and got hooked all those years ago. But thinking about it, I realize that I am so used to not seeing myself represented in mainstream media such as tv and movies that I don’t give it much thought. But the issue of recruiting ethnic gamers also depends on where you live. My FLGS is in an ethnically diverse neighbourhood and is owned by person of color. The staff have been both young men and women of color as are the customers. This maybe also due to the diverse activities the store holds ( boardgame meetups, miniature games, a LAN gaming room, an rpg room) that all sorts of folks show up. One sat. afternoon there were kids playing Pokemon, seniors playing a boardgame , young men playing warmahordes- it was a zoo, but everyone was having fun. And all were of different ethnicities. I think that technical innovations like 3d printing and the fusion of computers in tabletop gaming will give any player of any ethnic group the means of customizing figs and games if needed. Gw has made some minor effort (that Ghengis Khan primarch and the Salamanders) but at least Mantic has picked up (dread)ball (see what I did there 😉 ) and have different heroes in Mars Attacks, All female teams in DB and Black FF! Hopefully these will attract new gamers and at least have paint companies come up with different skin tone colours which IMHO is a problem! Always having to figure out what colours make what skin color is a pain…. 😉

  17. Poosh says:

    First off, I’d like to point out it seems to be the case that the Sultan of Brunei’s son at least at age 12-14 played a GW game and collected it: that’s someone who has the entire world at his fingertips and could literally have a line of miniatures made for him at the click of his fingers.

    Hello, just a few thoughts.

    “Without strong minority characters potential players from minorities feel excluded and are pushed away.”

    I’ve never believed this is true unless the minority member itself is racist. Flip it around. If a country in Africa produced a, let’s say steam punk version a reimagined Africa, where the non-painted plastic models had distinct African heads – what would you think of white people who refused to play it on grounds that they felt excluded (racially) from the game? A colour blind person wouldn’t give a frak – a kick ass game is a kick ass game.

    “a lack of characters to identify with that is off-putting.”

    I can’t speak for those you’ve spoken to but REALLY? They can’t identify with world-consuming Tyranids? Or green coloured Orks? Or filthy RATMEN? Or red-skinned, half on fire Daemons? Can you really identify with a lone Imperial Guardsman (unless you’re Russia I suppose) ?? Lack of identification is not a barrier. The issue really is with the person, not the game, if they find themselves aliened. Genuine colour-blind people do not care and rarely register the race.

    And as a point, I don’t think the sexuality of that many characters has ever been an issue in the grim darkness of the 41st millennium. Nearly everyone you can bring to mind could be homosexual for all you know, it’s just never stated because mainly it’s irrelevant.

    GW’s wargames (as a side note) does actually have a wide range of female miniatures and quite a few female characters given war is and never has been a female pursuit. As far as I’m ware in the wargaming groups I’ve seen there’s about 2 females to 30 males, which seems about right. Females generally do not like wargaming (specifically wargaming, not talking about miniatures or board games here etc. etc.). It’s biological, females are less inclined to this sort of competitive massed-armies games, in the same manner their less inclined to enjoy Football on the same level males do. There are exceptions of course, and many girls who do love controlling armies and slaughtering their opponents: we often marry those girls (or try to!) because they’re rare and seen as more valuable than other gals. What a lot of females are more inclined to do is collect and paint warhammer (quite a difference) and I really don’t think they care so much on the sex of the models. Time and time again I’ve seen seen females be very enthusiastic about painting – but shown no interest in actually fighting a war game (they will, however, be a more inclined to play a Dungeon adventure).

    I don’t want to attack anyone but I really feel that a small number of those who have engaged in this wider conversation (not necessarily on this post) don’t understand how patronising and even demeaning the entire subject is to a coloured person who hasn’t got a race-card-chip on their shoulder.

    Yeah for certain armies it’s good to paint different skin tones, not because it’s “racially inclusive” but because it’s realistic – and it’s a mark of a skilled painter to master african skin tones, which are much harder to paint than white.

    The entire wicked social-“justice” gabage which has been a scar on the video game “community” must be fought against by wargamers. If a company wants to make, say, a cool East Asian IG officer then it should do so because it’s COOL not because it’s trying to appeal to political correctness or try and woo different races.

    As for painting your models different colours, why wasn’t this your natural instinct in the first place?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I don’t intend this to be patronising Poosh and I’m sorry if that’s what you take away from this post.

      I’m white, so my comments are a synthesis of what i’ve been told rather than experienced myself. I’ve spoken to many gamers, ex-gamers and relatives of gamers over the years about what attracts them or pushes them away from miniature gaming, and the lack of representation has come up again and again. Yes, REALLY. It’s something I’ve been repeatedly told by people, not something I made up. If you don’t feel this then that’s great. However, unless you imagine that I’m either deliberately lying about this or am the victim of a conspiracy to mislead me, you should admit the possibility that a not everyone feels as you do. That being the case, what would you attribute the dearth of non-white males in miniature gaming to?

      Intriguing thought about the Sultan’s son, by the way.

      • Poosh says:

        Hey dude, bit of rant coming…

        I wasn’t suggesting you are lying of course, and I’ll assume you didn’t lead anyone into giving you the answer you desired. But I do find this somewhat incredulous. And I did suggest other motives at work to explain what I, at least, consider illogical expectations and emotions.

        I mean, am I really to believe that a ethnic minority member, let’s say Latino is alienated by Warhammer 40,000 because he can’t connect with the genetically-enhanced models who are fighting a cosmic war against daemons in the warp ? If only GW had a Latino Space Marine commander things would be ok? It can’t be a complaint about culture because nothing in either game systems is akin to the current “white” european culture, it’s all a dystopian future or a horrific fantasy world.

        Plenty of Asians in asia love GW products. it’s escapism and a culmination of foreign tropes and mythology, and modern fiction.

        I mean, I’d like to see proof in pudding:

        Out of all female GW players the majority play Sisters of Battle.
        Out of all Warzone gamers the majority of east-asians collect the Mishima faction.

        This all really has to be true for your argument to have merit. I have no idea how to find the stats mind.
        __________________
        “That being the case, what would you attribute the dearth of non-white males in miniature gaming to?”

        How many Polish players have you seen at the local gaming club? Oddly enough the only indi store in my hometown is run by an Asian fellow.

        That aside, well Europe and North America is a majority white place. No sh*t they are almost all white. but… I’ll grant you I’ve been to two gaming clubs and was the only ethnic minority person there but (about 3 females).

        GW has a reasonable (subjective of course) asian market (one cannot condemn GW for not doing well in third world and developing nations due to lack of disposable income, I’m sure you find this obvious but others might not). So that’s done and dusted on the “institutional racism” front for the simple fact that asians seem to be willing to buy into the game and are not offput by it (looking quickly on the chinese-knock-off feedback pages there are sales to South America and Japan, on four randoms I just looked at). Of course one can’t speak for individuals but those who feel “alienated” may well have issues, seeing as there are hundreds or thousands of non-whites in Asian countries who magically don’t seem to care. As I said, look at the counterarguments (i.e. do you reject anime because it has no white characters in ? And uses certain behavior that is alien to a non-Japanese?) and see how absurd that position is.

        But racism may well be to blame. If we draw it back to the UK. We sadly, in the UK, have a lot of racial segregation coupled with the fallacious link of race TO culture. Part of this culture sees playing with plastic soldiers as pretty lame, and something to be mocked. Ignorant? Yes. Now, that sort of attitude is non race specific, nor does it vanish if you have a lot of disposable income … but it’s a numbers game. And that’s simply it. How many wargamers do you have in your average community? 100? if you’re lucky? We are so damn small for the most part. Now how many of them came from a background where race had nothing to do with culture or how you should behave, you were brought up as individuals? Given a copy of LOTR maybe when young etc. A lot I’d wager. Our parents probably encouraged it dare I say? I’d even wager the bulk of us started our love affair when our parents bought us a copy of Hero Quest… (is that a normal product people would buy their children today?)

        Keeping in mind ethnic minorities are maybe 10% of the population, you’re looking for people of that 10% to also be: somewhat middle class, have a similar cultural upbrining to you, parents who encourage it perhaps, at least 1 or 2 friends to help you grow up with the hobby.. etc. etc. So many factors, and you’re dumping that on an already small minority of races (and a few of those races, if poor or working class will probably be subject to a culture that negates the chance of getting into miniatures). You have to be a strong individual to break out of a culture that is forced upon you from birth (and there are many, one should not deny).

        TL:DR – There are so few wargamers out there. There are already a minority of non-whites (that’s why we call them ethnic minority) .. of that ethic minority you’re probably going to have to be middle class to fund the expensive hobby.. who are another minority. To grow up accustomed to miniatures you need certain kinds of upbringings: the odds are stacked against a WHITE person getting into Warhammer … what do you think the odds are of a non-white who is a small fraction of the population? Yeah, there’s an economic edge to it. But it’s a numbers game and it’s that simple I believe.

        • Danny says:

          Poosh, I agree with the general direction you’re taking your discussion. As I pointed out in here, I’ve played games as a dog in Monopoly and as a Fairy in a kids game…and I’ve played as any number of creatures ranging from Lizardmen, Elves, Dwarves, Tyranids to Robots and a whole stack of other things that are nothing like me. I’m seriously considering buying this board game that’s on KS now;

          …I’m not Asian so I’m not represented in this game…but I couldn’t care less, it looks cool and if it wasn’t for this discussion, I wouldn’t have even thought about the fact that I’m not represented in it!!!

          I can absolutely understand that a person will enjoy a game more if they can identify with the miniatures, especially so if it is a single miniature that represents them in a board or RPG-like game…but I seriously don’t understand why someone would simply NOT play a game because they are not represented to their satisfaction. It’s just bizarre.

          I’d suggest that if someone can’t find it in themselves to play a game because they don’t feel explicitly represented, then they have issues that are not the responsibility of a gaming company to deal with…and quite frankly, I don’t even think I’d like to play games with people that seem so fragile…if these people even really interested in games? I just cannot imagine that someone who refuses to play a game because they are not represented in it to their satisfaction would make a potential long term gamer to increase the worldwide gaming population.

        • Jim says:

          Yep, that argument works for me… my girls spent part of their childhoods playing at being dogs, ponies or lions. I have collected ‘non-white’ armies for my hobby and have no problem playing Black, Asian or female characters in console or tabletop games. As you say, enjoying the game is far more important to me than the token I play it with.

          I do believe that environment, upbringing and lifestyle (imposed or chosen) is perhaps far more the determiner of whether you get into gaming or not, than whether your particular race or gender is represented in miniature.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          @Poosh – you may be right, it’s not something we can easily test. However, as I said before, the answers I’ve been given by many people over many years suggest a common theme. Why should I ignore that?

          Granted, there are other things going on too. Cultural pressure within at least some ethnic communities pushes people away from gaming (it’s childish). I say this on the basis of being told (yesterday) by a friend of mine who has this experience himself).

          Also, the rate of low income families is higher among ethnic groups, at least according to official government stats in the UK.

          All of this goes together to explain some or all of why there is an underrepresentation of ethnic groups among gamers, compared to the relative numbers in the population at large. I don’t think that any of this means we should ignore that, nor that it would be impossible, or undesirable to change.

          Encouraging women is another matter. There is no such economic or cultural bias, merely a gender preference one. Does that really account for the WSS survey of less than 1% female gamers? Have we really topped out that possibility?

        • eriochrome says:

          Group representation and experience does not translate well between groups. White people can say or do things that with offend minorities without even thinking about it. For example my wife this weekend was at a fast service restaurant this weekend, the manager came over to ask inquiry about the meal. My wife was not happy with it as she said one of the component tasted off. The manager looked at the dish and said you had a “Jap Parm” to describe that the dish was japanese pan noodles with Parmesan crusted chicken which is an odd combination (which was not the problem). I am sure that is the short hand in the kitchen for those two components but also includes the negative term used to refer to the Japanese in the past especially during world war two. My wife was sort of shocked with that as she is Asian. They could just as easily referred to the dish as Pan in the back room but that a word that is a racial slur is their standard short hand is clearly illustrating that they did not even think about it.

          Looking at 40K you have a pretty much all white empire trying to exterminate the colored aliens out of the universe. Now that is not how they would describe it but honestly is it really incorrect. Maybe you need to have a little bit of different outlook for that to be apparent to you without thinking about it but here in the states minorities often have a different outlook. The expressions of “driving while Black” does not in existence for no reason.

          Looking at females, from my experience with my daughter she is always looking first at the females. Does this lego set have female minifigures? Who are the females in boardgame? It took a couple of play throughs of Castle Ravenloft missions before she would play a male character. Maybe I have a mini radical feminist, but more likely when experimenting with new things people like to see something familiar also. Overall I think that the divide is more about war, violence, and competition in miniatures games. The hobby side, women are very interested in craft type hobbies (dominating the clients for stores like Michaels) which is what it is really. Painting a mini is not really different from making a greeting card or knitting a sweater. The games though are dominated by violence and I am not sure but boys just seem more drawn to violence. This is where you often find the difference between boardgames and miniature games. A boardgame might include violence as part of a larger game but it is often not the whole game. I am hard pressed to think of a miniature game that is not dominated by destroying the opponents models.

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  19. Rob Saunders says:

    I have recently got my girlfriend into miniatures games through Dreadball, she has already been put off most other games and companies due to some pretty ingrained (and probably unconscious) misogyny. She was buy paint in the local GW store and as she was at the counter paying for her paint the guy behind the counter was talking to me and asking me what I was painting/playing at the moment!! We went to Salute this year and it became a joke the amount of half naked female warrior minis we saw or horribly dated “sexy” girl miniatures,which lead to a pretty offensive conversation between two guys looking at Ground Zero Games “over 18’s” miniatures (that where openly displayed on their stand ironically) talking about how the sculpts represent the “perfect female form” and the like. Horrible. Its this sort of stuff that makes me realise why there are not many girls into the hobby and I can imagine its the similar to racial minorities and anyone that isn’t a straight, white man basically.

    Call me a PC lefty if you like (i am so that’s fine) but the whole “I don’t want political correctness to invade my games” makes me really sad. Such a shame that this is even a topic of conversation in 2014. I see the points made that most gamers would buy a good game if it features black, or asian, or gay, or disabled characters for example, as long as it was a good game, and I agree but why arn’t companies making games or miniatures that represent anyone other than the white straight male (mainly, I know that there are a lot of exceptions)

    • Jim says:

      Well put Rob… It didn’t occur to me to mention above that another reason why people are put off getting into the hobby is because of those already in it. Seen the same things myself and had the same situation with me being spoken to in preference to the customer I was with, even though it was clear that she was the one looking at the figures and I was not (although that is not confined to gaming to be honest). Needless to say, a no sale and the fury of a woman scorned followed. 😀

      Ditto re: ‘no PC in the hobby’ I’m surprised nobody has begun their post with “I’m not a racist but…”. It’s not PC gone mad, it’s just treating and accepting others how I would like to be treated and accepted in return. Presumably I’m another PC lefty then… 😉

  20. Dustcrusher says:

    Funny, I wrote about something similar (the lack of female gamers) on my Mantic blog here:

    http://manticforum.com/blogs/dustcrusher/173214-

    I’ll try to keep it brief (I’m not very good at it, but I will try 😉 )

    My girlfriend is a gamer. She doesn’t just play occasionally because I want to, either. She’s the one that convinced me to get into some of the Kickstarters I’ve backed, and she’s hoping that 1750 funds as it takes place in her favorite historical era.

    Most gamers are just glad to see more kindred spirits. A few of the old white gamers have acted pretty terribly toward her, from condescension (sometimes she doesn’t want to play what I’m playing; it doesn’t mean she plays nothing at all) to outright nastiness (jerks trying to bait her by throwing out overly sexist remarks) to just refusing to play against her.

    We quit going to one store over it; we like the owner and didn’t want to cost him business (unfortunately, some of his most obnoxious customers are also his biggest spenders). Whether anyone likes it or not, some gamers (and I’d say by extension, comic fans and video gamers) want their hobby to remain a boys’ club.

    My first recommendation- we can draw more people to the hobby by following Wheaton’s Law (Don’t be a d–k).

    As for a larger variety of miniatures, as I mentioned in the link above I think it’s a matter of breaking a vicious cycle. Miniatures companies don’t make games with broader representation because non white guys aren’t interested, which the companies see as proof that they shouldn’t change anything, and the cycle repeats itself.

    Malifaux continues to improve on their variety of characters. Male, female, white, non-white, disabled, human, undead, monster, robot- in Malifaux, it’s not about gender or ethnicity- it’s whether or not you can survive the insanely hostile setting. Not surprisingly, I see a wider demographic spread playing Malifaux than some other miniature games.

    It’s not about “making every possible choice available every time.” It’s simply about making clear that “hey, this game isn’t just about the white male hero(es) and maybe their supporting cast. Other people get to be heroes (and villains) too.”

    • Rob Saunders says:

      Yeah, it does seem to be much more common that it should be, I just find it really sad. Me and my girlfriend run a games club in Colchester and it seems to be a fairly mixed bunch that play…we play a very mixed bunch of games though, from casual board and card game to RPGs and miniatures games. Thankfully not experienced any prejudice there but i have certainly noticed in clubs that focus more on the fringe games like RPGs and miniatures

  21. Basti says:

    Hi,

    I agree with a lot I’ve read in this thread, personally I find the lack of gender and racial diversity in certain games (with a few noticeable exceptions) rather appalling. Without going into the politics of all of it, as I am sure there are people more qualified than I am to make these points, I would like to add, that more diversity would also just make games more interesting and exciting. I am not sure if any one else feels the way I do, but although there are elements in lets say the 40k fluff I really like, I cannot help but be bored with most of it. I just seems to be an accumulation of violent wet dreams of a 13 year old (without the sexual side), motivations are always rather one dimensional, everything is rather cliche-y and so forth. The majority of people in the 41st century seem to be either fighting wars or anonymously keeping in tact the war economy, I have no idea what women are up to if they are not joining the Sororitas (whose motivation seems to be nothing but being women). Also how a million different worlds can bread almost nothing but white males is sort of weird, if any there is that sort of Star Wars-ish “one planet-one distinct race” thing going on (like a planet of space vikings or a planet of space mongols). Sorry I am going on a rant here about 40k, but it is just very archetypical for a lot of the things that are broken in other universes.

    With women it is a further problem, that if they appear they almost solely are defined by their gender (Sororitas, the Sisterhood in Kings of War, witch elf cults). Why are there hardly any mixed regiments or women just doing what everybody else does? The same goes with racial diversity. Like if there are Asians they most often come in a Samurai themed army or some colonialist-lense romanticism of Africa for black people? I am not British myself, but my partner is British and of Jamaican descent (I apologise if I use incorrect words here), however her family is so very Yorkshire that it is almost a cliche and her brother serves in the Army in a normal uniform like everybody else without wearing a traditional Jamaican outfit. So I d love games I play to represent racial and gender diversity in a way that is not tokenistic but more natural and more proportionally to what we expect in the real world. For the DS kickstarter I would have loved it to see some characters painted in different skintones, not because there has to be a fantasy equivalent of an African tribal warrior but just because their are all sorts of people in Mantica, hell for all we know skin pigmentation has not to follow the same rules as it does in our world, after all there are Ogres and Goblins too. In the same way the old fantasy and sci-fi cliches get really boring so do cliches simply imported from the real world.

    However I don’t think that is the reason why there is an under-representation of certain groups in the gaming community, not that it wouldn’t contribute, but I think the main factor is to found in wider issues. For a long time wargames have erected quite a high barrier around themselves just by how much of a commitment you have to make financially and personally to play them and also often by the complexity of the rules, time it takes to play a game etc. etc. It wasn’t just white males this kind of hobby attracted, but a very specific type who would really immerse themselves in such a hobby. Even I am sometimes put off by certain types of excessive rule lawyers that seem to form a significant part of the gaming community and who practise a style of play I do not very much appreciate.

    Thankfully games are becoming more playable in my opinion, where you don’t have to pick up the rule book for every move your model/unit wants to make and where you can easily invite a mate over who never touched a wargame before and after a turn or so of assistance he/she can play on his/her own. This imho creates the environment were more people from all sorts of backgrounds could come to wargaming, and I think it is happening already. In RPG’s I had never been in a group without women, barely any of whom joined because of their partners, in some cases I was even contacted by women who heard of people playing rpgs and really wanted to give it a bash. A last problem then is, so I reckon, that because of the gaming community being for a long time a male domain (and white of course), that there is a certain degree of lad-ishnes that we ourselves have to reflect and tackle, our community wont be attractive to women or people from other ethnic backgrounds if we have a culture of objectivifying women (and certain sculpts don’t do us a favour here) or practice racism or homophobia (even just in the form of stupid jokes or “banter”). I think its good to call things like casual racism/sexism in gaming out, it is even better to lead with a good example and it would be ace if the makers of games could really make an effort to set these examples.

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