Systemic Racism In Gaming
You may have already seen our stance on systemic racism in the Enchanted Grounds community, brought to light by the killing of George Floyd and global protests that followed. We promised to examine our actions as a company with a more critical eye. We also promised to be more intentional in the vendors we choose and the donation drives we support.
Part of walking the walk includes a ton of research on the role racism has played in the board game and coffee industries – the space we occupy and practices we perpetuate.
Racism in Board Games
Depictions of African Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were problematic at best, showcasing violence and hostility through games and toys. This essay from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia by Denis Mercier, PhD shows the progression of game publishers slowly adjusting tone and representation to be more inclusive in the post-Civil Rights Era. Mercier concludes with “Over the past one hundred years or so the attitude toward African Americans in games has evolved from hostility to at least grudging respect. The evolution has been uneven, however. The most primitive period was by far the longest. Furthermore, the recent and as yet much briefer dramatic turn toward reverence is due to Black initiative and participation.”
For a more modern take on the representation of race in gaming, we found this article by Tanya Pobuda on AnalogGameStudies.org that breaks down board game industry statistics from 2018. A big takeaway – just finding the data to support any representation of non-white game publishers took up a huge portion of her time, resorting to scouring social media accounts and online portfolios when large databases like BoardGameGeek failed to turn up significant findings.
Enchanted Grounds has always drawn the line at overtly controversial subject matter – just ask anyone who has tried to find Cards Against Humanity in one of our stores. Other examples of banned games at EG include Cash & Guns and Secret Hitler. These games invite players to act hostile and use discriminatory language in the name of fun, which goes against our policy of creating an inclusive, family-friendly environment. It’s encouraging to see game publishers and distributors step up and say ‘no’, like with last year’s controversial announcement of Scramble for Africa, which was pulled just two months after its announcement.
Industry Leaders Making Changes
We’ll keep an ongoing list of updates from the gaming industry here on what they are doing to affect real change.
- Wizards of the Coast announces they are banning this list of racist cards from sanctioned play: https://wpn.wizards.com/en/article/depictions-racism-magic
- Enchanted Grounds has pulled these cards from our singles collection – they are no longer available for purchase.
- BoardGameGeek has posted a list of Black board game designers and artists, along with accompanying resources: