Representing Women in Board Games 101
Focus on good traits like the intensity in someone's facial expressions in a way that actually makes sense. If there's a fire, they're either staring at you because they started it OR they're freaking out because holy smokes, there is a fire! They won't be deadpan staring off into space.
Dress her in the kinds of clothes you see everyday people wearing. Your mom, your friends, your girlfriend, your daughter. We don’t want to look like photoshopped Hollywood, we want to be represented as people.
Make her body proportions realistic. If she has huge breasts and butt, she’s not going to have a 10" waist. Weight tends to be proportionally distributed. That's not to say there can't be a character with these proportions but she shouldn't be the ONLY character with those proportions.
Remember that breasts are tear-shaped, not bubble shaped and without a bra, no breasts are going to look like cantaloupes or oranges. If she’s not wearing a bra, her breasts aren’t going to sit just below her neck.
Use realistic combat armor. If I’m going to fight someone in combat I’m going to need proper armor and my breasts are definitely not going to be exposed. We all know where the heart is located and it’s not all that hard to stab or shoot someone in the chest causing them to bleed out incredibly quickly.
If you want a great example check out the difference in armor between the Wonder Woman movie and the Justice League. Wonder Woman, directed by a woman, had full armor on top and long leather skirts for movement. In Justice League the Amazonian armor is non-existent.
When representing women of different cultures do your research- don’t resort to stereotypes that misrepresent. Getting help is from someone with that background is encouraged
Be prepared to pay for this. It doesn’t have to cost a lost but consultation typically runs between $20-$100 per hour.
If you have a friend who is willing to advise for free, that’s great! Consider offering to buy them lunch or coffee as a gesture of goodwill.
Women characters should be given as much backstory as your men characters and if you have a strong woman in your story, her strength should NOT result from a traumatic event. Women can be strong without trauma and we don’t need reminders of our own trauma from a game or show.
Don’t give them overused and trite hobbies/interests. Women are just as complex as men. Treat them as such.
Don’t define them as accessories to men. We are more than just wives, girlfriends, mothers.
Do show women of different shapes/heights. Your average woman is not a barbie doll.
Don’t focus on her body parts such as her breasts and butt.
Don’t use unrealistic lighting to highlight her breasts if there isn’t actually a light source causing that lighting.
Don’t make women who are ready to fight in combat wear sexy clothing. Nobody goes to shank someone in a mini skirt and a fur coat $1200 on a fur coat, I’m not getting blood on it.
Nobody fights in high heels, period, man or woman.
Women are most likely going to have short hair or have it pulled up off their face in combat situations. None of this long curls down to their butt nonsense. Honestly, nobody even curls their hair before a fight. That in itself is a bit unrealistic. Curling your hair takes HOURS.
Don’t hyper sexualize female animals/alien races. That's just creepy.
Don’t show women in awkward and uncomfortable looking positions as if we sit around showing off our bodies
Special thanks to Lizzy Funkhauser for helping with this article.