For the first time in Gen Con history, the Industry Insider Featured Presenters list is more than half female. Gen Con is a gigantic board gaming convention, which had an attendance of more than 60,000 people last year. Out of the 25 people featured, 13 of them are women.
Featured Presenter and Paizo Pathfinder RPG Project Manager Jessica Price wrote on Tubmlr about the significance of the fact that this list has actual gender parity. “Five years ago, the ratio of women to men in the Insiders was 1:16 (6.25%). Two years ago, it was 4 out of 25 (16%). So this happened relatively fast. Gen Con’s record on this is not good, but this looks to me like a good-faith effort to make real change–dramatic change, instead of the teeth-pulling, incremental change characteristic of the industry.”
While the change is exciting, Price does caution that this won’t magically fix tabletop’s culture of misogyny. But it’s helpful that a major convention is not only acknowledging the fact that women are a part of the tabletop industry, but that these women are authorities in the space. Showcasing women’s work in the industry helps women become a normalized part of the board gaming industry and community.
The one downside is that while Gen Con has done a great job inviting women, the list of Featured Presenters is still overwhelmingly white. While some people of color are represented-including the Industry Insider Guest of Honor Mike Pondsmith, who has been in the game industry for more than 30 years-the event (and the industry) still has a ways to go when it comes to racial diversity and representation. But it’s encouraging that Gen Con is putting forth this kind of effort to be more inclusive.