Welcome to 3 Gear Games blog. My name is Lena and as a black woman with a new small business serving the tabletop gaming community, I strive to do my part in making the tabletop gaming world more diverse. That being said, I would be remiss to not point out during black history month the array of Black talent breaking down barriers in the tabletop gaming industry.
June 1st 2020 Edit
In light of recent events with the BLM protesting happening across America a Twitter thread created by Elizabeth Hargrave (creator of Wingspan) was made to highlight some more Black game designers. I want to thank Elizabeth for giving me permission to re-post these.
- Eric Lang http://www.ericmlang.com/ You may not be aware that one of the most prolific game designers in the industry today and the Director of Game Design at CMON is black. Eric Lang has created well over 100 tabletop games. Notable games include: Rising Sun, A Song Of Ice And Fire, Munchkin CCG, Blood Rage, Star Wars the card game, Dice Masters, and more! “He is the recipient of the Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming (2016), two Dice Tower Awards, and five Origins Awards. He has consulted for the top companies in the game industry: CMON, Fantasy Flight Games, Wizards of the Coast, WizKids, Mattel and AEG.”- website bio
RAP GODZ by Board Game Brothas
Board Game Brothas Fahamu Kua Dennis and Omari Akil Dennis
“RAP GODZ is a modern board game that puts you in the role of an up and coming hip-hop artist on your path to greatness.” The first release from Board Game Brothas, it was successfully funded through Kickstarter!” -websitebio
I was able to try out Rap Godz during a visit to Washingcon 2 years ago, and I have to say it was a most excellent game. The game play was smooth and easy to understand; not an easy feat to accomplish. Each character in the game is diverse, cleverly constructed and really brought their own flavor to the board. One of the things that really stands out about Rap Godz is the game board. I have never come across a tabletop game that used a record in such a fun way. It really makes you feel immersed in 90’s culture with boom boxes and break dancing. This game is truly funky fresh.
Hillman The Game by Tanisha Hall
As a child of the ’80s, I grew up watching shows like The Cosby Show and its spin-off A Different World. A Different World showed The US a glimpse of not only college life but black college life. As a child, I would look up to all the characters and understand that after high school, going to college was just the next logical step. The show was truly groundbreaking. It never occurred to me until I became an adult how rare a show that was. This is why I was thrilled to find out that it had been turned into a tabletop game, and even more so to find out it was created by a black female tabletop game designer Tanisha Hall https://www.iasgames.com/, which is even rarer than the show itself.
“HILLMAN THE GAME is a new board game that allows you to take on the roles of characters from the hit late 80’s – mid 90’s TV show “A Different World” through the campus of the fictional HBCU, Hillman College and be the player with the most cash at the “Season Finale”. -iasgames
Q&A with Tanisha Hall
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Hall. and she was not only gracious enough to speak about her experience but also give some excellent advice for those wanting to break into the tabletop gaming industry and create their own games.
- How did you get started in this industry? Did you have any mentors?
I’ve always loved board games and since I was raised as an only child, I would create games on my own for fun. A couple of years ago I lost the best job I ever had with nothing to show and decided that I would never work for anyone else again because I wanted and needed to create my own legacy. A group of friends and family came over one night and while we played board games and laughing till we cried, I said that I wanted to play board games with characters that looked like me so I said I should make one. Everyone agreed but an hour and a half later, I was still talking about it.
2. Have you noticed any improvement in diversity since you first started?
By this time I had only known of one Black game developer with games based on Black culture. It was a company that created the Martin Trivia Card Game. I reached out via email to what was Republic and Co. at the time (now Zumble) and basically said I was starting to make board games and wanted to know how they didn’t get sued. They told me! Straight up! I asked if I could ask questions from time and after a year of intermittent check-ins and quick meetings and a lot of moral support, I dubbed them my mentors.
During one of my playtests, I had 4 generations of Black people that didn’t all know each other and that seldom played board games, playing at the same time! The people that would only play card games and hated monopoly were interested in not only playing a game based on one of the most iconic sitcoms in Black History (shout out to BHM) but finding out what other tabletop games were out there. Creating board games has also let me to finding an outstanding community of Black game developers which I never knew existed!
3. Is there any advice you would give to people trying to break in, that you wished you knew when you were starting out?
Yes. Go with your gut.
The first errors I made when I entered were taking everyone’s opinions all the time rather than go with what I initially felt in my heart about my business. I took a lot of time looking for other people to give me what they wanted to see rather than what I knew would look authentic for me to do.
Slay by Brittany Morris
“Ready Player One meets The Hate U Give in this dynamite debut novel that follows a fierce teen game developer as she battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther-inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for Black gamers.”-
You maybe wondering what Slay a novel and a novel about video games is doing in a blog post about tabletop gaming. This book is relevant and relatable, it pointly details the struggles of a black teen breaking down barriers in the gaming industry, something that is important across a variety of mediums from video games, board games, role playing games, cosplay and more; as we continue to strive for more diversity this book takes on the haters.
In addition Ms Morris has managed to incorporate a legit playable card game into her novel. There are two versions of the game one that is a print and play and can be played at the table with friends and one that can be played through twitter with your internet friends. I honestly do not think there has ever been a game that has done that before.
and on that note
Jerry Lawson’s contribution to the gaming community and blerd culture cannot be denied. He is none other than the father of video game cartridges. So, if you enjoyed playing Atari, Nintendo, Sega, etc you have Jerry to thank for that. His invention changed the video gaming industry and I don’t know if he is given enough credit for that. My families first console was a nintendo, followed by super nintendo and sega genesis. They were a great source of entertainment and brought my sisters and cousins closer together.
Thank you all for reading this post. If you liked this post please do us a solid and leave a comment and/or share it.
Before I go, I would like to share some of the amazing artwork that has been cropping up in Tabletop Gaming recently…
If you’re ever in the area please feel free to stop by 3 Gear Games and play some great tabletop games from our library. We hold weekly board game meetups as well. Visit www.3geargames.com to learn more!
What are your favorite tabletop games?
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