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Positive representation of women in tabletop games

This is the third in our annual tradition of International Women’s Day posts. Click here to see the previous two posts in this series.

Last year we wrote about the women behind the scenes in the games industry, this year we’re going in the games! Here is our list of great representation of women in tabletop games.

Why is this important?

In a typically male dominated hobby, some of the best and most enthusiastic gamers we know are female. For us it’s all about setting expectations around women in the real world, and helping to encourage more women into gaming. Women only being included in games if they’re dressed like Pamela Anderson in a zombie apocalypse doesn’t set a good standard, and I can understand women not wanting to play games where that’s the norm.

What is “good representation”?

Before we start, what does this even mean? Well “good representation” doesn’t mean they are present (although the absence of female characters is a problem too) but that they are a “positive” representation.

Often in games (especially older video and tabletop games) women are included either as overly sexualised objects, or as “damsels in distress” that need rescuing. Princess Peach may have come a long way, but let’s not forget she was originally included as a mcguffin for Mario to fawn over and rescue. When women are included as active playable characters they are often still scantily clad or have abilities specifically relating to their sexuality (we’re looking at you Belle from Colt Express).

For our list we were on the lookout for games where the female characters were as well rounded, and appropriately dressed, as the male characters.

Neema, from Zombicide: Toxic City Mall

So what games are there?

5 Minute Dungeon

Out of the ten possible playable characters in 5 Minute Dungeon, 5 of them are female (every character card has a male and female side). 5 Minute Dungeon is a standout because as part of the fantasy genre the female characters would traditionally be scantilly clad stereotypes, but that’s not so with this game. The female characters are dressed appropriately for their roles and have unique abilities based on their role, not their gender.


Pandemic continues to make it onto 100% of the diversity-based game lists that we’ve seen. Not only are the female characters equally skilled and valuable as the male characters, but they often take pride of place on many of the boxes throughout the series.

Flash Point

Like Pandemic, Flash Point is a great example of female characters being included as well rounded professionals. In addition to a few gender ambiguous characters, there are two female characters to play. The fact that the characters are female do nothing to turn them into stereotypes. Honestly in much the same way male fire fighters are often over sexualised, all characters in this game are illustrated with realism in mind rather than sexy calendars.

Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter is full of characters. Seriously, the base game has 30 characters. About as based in realism as a game about zombies can get, every character is well thought out and well dressed for the dead of winter.

This list is in no way definitive (obviously, I mean we only listed four games!). These are really just our favourite games that have good representation of women. Thankfully this is getting closer to becoming the norm, as we could have included games like KeyForge, Fog of Love, and the Legends of Andor if we wanted to. The list continues to grow, and I think we should make more of a point to give props to the designers that do it well, and help other designers realise where they’re going awry.

Do you have any other games to add to the list? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.

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