Meaningful Decisions: Diversity and Inclusion in History-Themed Board Games

Paper presented at Canadian Game Studies Association Conference, June 7, 2019

“While the rhetoric around ‘games as motivators’ is widespread, there is little research evidence that this is the case, and while they may motivate some learners, their use may actually exclude others.”

-Nicola Whitton, “Games for Learning: Creating a Level Playing Field or Stacking the Deck?”

By exposing players to historical subject matter via an activity that is designed to maximize player engagement and motivation, history-themed games would seem to offer an invaluable resource for educators in history and the humanities.  But if one of the principal advantages of using games in the classroom is that it accomodates diverse learning styles and appeals to a broader range of students than traditional pedagogical methods,[1] than educators should be especially concerned with the question of whether a given game makes good on the promise that game-based learning, in and of itself, can make classroom learning more equitable and inclusive.  Games studies researcher Nicola Whitton has noted that the question of accessibility is rarely taken into account in discussions of “gamification” in the classroom, yet evidence suggests that student engagement with games can be affected by a variety of social and cultural barriers, including gender and disability status.[2]

Although Whitton is writing with specific reference to digital games, many of the concerns she raises about the exclusionary aspects of digital games could be extended to the domain of analog or tabletop gaming as well.  In addition to the factors of gender and disability cited by Whooton, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and sexual identity are other factors whose problematic representation (or more commonly, non-representation) in board games may reinforce feelings of exclusion among players.[3]

Parallel to these debates, scholarly and non-scholarly critiques of the prevalence of colonialist and Orientalist themes in board games have called attention to their exclusionary effects, showing that representation of non-European cultures does not in and of itself connote equity or inclusivity.  Critical analyses of the imperialism and Eurocentrism implicit in Sid Meier’s computer game series Civilization [4] have now been joined by scholarly deconstructions of colonialism-themed board games like Catan, Goa, Vasco de Gama, and Navegador in the pages of the journal Analog Game Studies.[5]  And just two months ago, in early April 2019, publication plans for the newly-announced GMT Games title Scramble for Africa were scrapped when early press releases generated outrage on social media by describing how players, in the role of 19th century European powers, must compete to colonize Africa while minimizing the penalties accrued for committing “atrocities.”[6]

The present study evolved over two stages.  In the first stage, I sought to identify a cross-sample of history-themed board games that achieve inclusiveness of representation while avoiding, opposing, or actively subverting colonialist and Orientalist cliches.  In recognition of my own biases as a straight, white, cisgender male researcher, I strove to include games by a diverse selection of designers. The resulting selection includes a roughly equal number of games created by male designers and games (co-)designed by women.  (Lovelace & Babbage was designed by Scott Almes with sigificant contributions by lead developer Jessica Cassady Davis of Heavy Cardboard, and so could be said to split the difference).  I was less successful at identifying historical games designed by LGBTQ+ individuals and people of color[7], although the selection of games considered here was influenced by the online recommendations of industry professionals who publicly identify as LGBTQ+.[8] 

In the second stage, I conducted interviews with the designers and developers of these games and sought to make sense of the resulting data by looking for areas of similarity and difference.  In this paper, I confine myself to discussing five of these games: Lovelace & Babbage, Renaissance Wars, Gladius, The Lost Expedition, and Pax Pamir.

Finally, a disclaimer: my own training and academic specialization is in the field of art history, not game studies, and so my contribution here is best viewed in a spirit of cross-disciplinary dialogue and exploration, rather than discipline-specific expertise.  At the same time, I approach this material from the standpoint of a practitioner, albeit on a very modest level, as the designer of an art history-themed board game that I hope can be introduced into classroom settings to make the study of the art of the past more inclusive and accessible.

Inclusivity: Beyond the “Games for Girls” Paradigm

In 1997, researchers Justine Cassell and Henry Jenkins convened the ground-breaking conference, “From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games,” in response to the emergence of the “girl games” movement, an industry-driven push to expand the market for video games by researching the gaming preferences and tastes of young women and girls.[9]  Many among the participants noted that while “games for girls” were being promoted on feminist and educational grounds as a way to close the gender gap in technology, industry-backed consumer research tended to support prevailing cultural assumptions about gender-appropriate play, leading to worries that the “girl games” produced by an industry focused solely on market share would come to reflect and reinforce traditional gender norms and stereotypes.[10]  This paradox seemed to illustrate a difference in design philosophies: was inclusivity best served by tailoring game design to specifically “female” play styles and tastes?  Or should designers strive to create gender-neutral designs, in order to “engage both boys and girls with electronic games that can incorporate multiple perspectives and varying themes”?[11]

Scott Almes’ Lovelace & Babbage (2019), in which players can compete for fame and influence as computing pioneers Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Mary Somerville, or Luigi Federigo Menebrea, celebrates the historical contributions of women to science and mathematics within the context of a game that defies codified “girl game” norms by centering gameplay on the real-time solution of mathematical puzzles.[12]  In certain other respects, Lovelace & Babbage may reflect prevailing assumptions about gender differences in board gaming.  Alongside the emphasis on positive female role models (in addition to Lovelace and Somerville, the game includes a variety of female Patrons for whose favor players must compete, such as Mary Shelley and Rosa Bonheur), the game’s design minimizes direct aggression and “take that” tactics, often cited as barriers to a game's enjoyment by female players.[13]  Yet with the growth in popularity of the hobby outside its traditional base of experienced, highly competitive gamers, it may be that larger numbers of male as well as female players are showing a preference for less aggressive modes of play.  In restricting opportunities for player interaction, Lovelace & Babbage resembles other board games of the “roll and write” genre, a category that has enjoyed tremendous popularity in the last few years as the gaming market continues to expand beyond its established core audience.

In opposition to the view that strict historical accuracy in the treatment of certain themes militates against equal representation of male and female characters, Karen Boginsky and Jody Boginsky Barbessi, designers of the trick-taking card game Renaissance Wars (2015), have emphasized the historical achievements of female rulers, artists, and saints in an expansion titled Women of the Renaissance.[14]  The base game had already featured historical women as in-game characters (“Queens”) but not as playable characters (“Luminaries”).  The expansion features six of the Queens from the base game, now redesigned as Luminaries: Teresa of Avilon, Isabella of Castile, Elizabeth I, Catherine de Medici, Marguerite de Navarre, and my personal favorite, the artist Sofonisba Anguissola.  Each of the “ladies,” as the designers refer to them, have their own special powers: Elizabeth I for example can “Entertain Suitors” or “Emasculate an Enemy”, while Sofonisba can declare that any melded card on the table must pose as her model (“Color Me Sofonisba”), thus depriving an opponent of the chance to play it in a Skirmish.

Another example of diversity integrated with a historical theme is provided by the soon-to-be-released card game Gladius, winner of the 2019 LUCI People’s Choice Award and the Bit Awards Tabletop Game of the Year.  Players take on the role of members of the ancient Roman elite as they place bets on the outcome of various gladiator contests.  The art for the game showcases a wide range of body types and ethnicities, while the included card decks feature roughly equal numbers of male and female Gladiators and Elites.  When asked how the choice of theme supported the designers’ intention to reflect diversity in the game’s characters, Gladius designer Victoria Caña responded,

One of the reasons we like Roman history is because the Roman empire is a powerful example of how there is strength in all types of diversity - culture, thought, people. Regardless of what the theme of Gladius ended up being, we would have aimed to have majority minority characters (in this case women and people of color). However, since we chose Rome, we did loosely try to focus on the actual ethnicities of people in the Roman empire. We also included a lot of women in our game because it's important for us to break gender stereotypes and normalize strong, female characters, including in combat situations.

Co-designer Alex Uboldi added, 

Our design motto was ‘inspired by history not bound by it’: we often referred to our aesthetic as Fantasy Rome. [...] For Gladiator designs, there is a lot of information about different types of Gladiators and the armor they wore, but we always tried to show a greater diversity of armor styles and peoples than would have appeared in the same arena.

Caña and Uboldi drew inspiration from the video game Domina, in which players run a training school for gladiators, but in Gladius the focus is on winning bets, not battles: as a result, the players’ victory conditions are decoupled from the success or failure of individual gladiators in the arena. Since players are not incentivized to directly identify with the combatants, they are also one degree removed from the game’s thematic elements of violence, aggression, and direct competition.  This makes Gladius an interesting example of a game that “plays with positions,” a characteristic that Suzanne de Castell and Mary Bryson have identified as a benchmark of inclusive design.[15]  By allowing players to find their own points of entry or access to the game’s theme, whether that be the “blood and sand” of gladiator contests or the social meta-game of reading an opponent’s bets and bluffs, Gladius rejects the false dichotomy between gender-specific and gender-neutral design.

The Lost Expedition: “A Little Game about Dying Horribly in the Rainforest”[16]

Another game that combines increased visibility of women, LGBTQ+, and non-European peoples with the unconventional treatment of a popular setting or theme is The Lost Expedition (2017), a hand-management card game based on British explorer Percy Fawcett’s ill-fated search for the remains of a legendary vanished civilization in the Amazonian rainforest.  Although the original “lost expedition” of 1925 consisted only of Fawcett himself, his eldest son Jack, and his son’s friend Raleigh Rimell, players of the card game can choose from among a variety of explorers to form their team, all of whom are based on real historical figures.  Diversity is represented by the characters Isabelle Eberhardt, a Swiss author and explorer who moved to Algeria at age twenty, where she converted to Islam and ran afoul of French colonial authorities by adopting the dress and lifestyle of an Arab man; Cândido Rondon, the founder of Brazil’s Indian Protection Service, a lifelong champion of the rights of indigenous Brazilians who was himself of partial Indian descent; Bessie Coleman, the first American civil aviator of African-American (as well as Native American) heritage; and Ynes Mexia, a Mexican-American botanist and celebrated plant collector.  The character of Isabelle Eberhardt has attracted particular attention in the board gaming community as a rare example of LGBTQ+ representation in board games.[17]

On first impression, the game’s emphatic commitment to diversity sits uneasily with The Lost Expedition’s theme of colonial-era adventure and exploration in the jungles of South America.  Indeed the thematic elements of the game recall countless other titles in which players loot and explore the temples, jungles and deserts of “lost” civilizations in faraway lands.  In terms of gameplay, however, The Lost Expedition diverges significantly from other games of this type.  Encounter cards drawn each phase represent threats to the explorers, such as wild animals, disease, or hostile native tribes, which require an expenditure of food, health, or ammunition in order to make headway towards the expedition’s goal.  Rather than rewarding players with victory points and other bonuses for completing a variety of objectives, as in other adventure/exploration games, The Lost Expedition punishes players by continually taking things away.  As one reviewer puts it:

that notion of sacrifice infuses The Lost Expedition with a melancholy that is oddly one of the design’s central strategic considerations [...] The decision to lose a party member is fraught with angst because the odds keep stacking against you when it happens.[18]

One of the features that contributes to and sustains this melancholic atmosphere is the way the game requires players to sequence the set of Encounter cards drawn each phase.  This gives players the feeling that they are deliberately subjecting their teams of explorers to these threats, though in fact they are randomly drawn.  Since identification with one’s team is inevitable, it is difficult to shake the impression that one is purposefully embarking upon a foolhardy, even suicidal quest.  In setting this tone, The Lost Expedition evokes a genre of Western literature could be called “existentialist colonial,” exemplified by works like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky, and Andre Malraux’s The Royal Way.[19]  The white male anti-heroes of such works may be tempted by colonialist fantasies of conquest and adventure in exotic and dangerous foreign lands, but in the end they are always unmastered by their own loss of reason before meeting a gruesome and unglamorous death, often at the hands of disease.  In exposing the moral and political fractures of Empire, such works have been read as counter-colonial allegories which expose the fallacies of imperialism’s claims to mastery and reason.  For our part, by following the lead of Bo Ruberg’s analysis of “playing to lose” as a means of “queering” mainstream video games,[20] we might begin to understand the particular brand of melancholia The Lost Expedition shares in common with these literary texts as a connective thread linking the representation of queer and trans histories of loss with an understanding of colonialism as an always already nostalgic project, an attempt to recapture a national greatness that had never existed in order to secure for it the organic unity and coherence that it had always lacked.[21] 

The idea that a game can be read as a text in relation to literary and other kinds of texts, and that this relation does not have to be confined to one of influence or priority, but can be considered productive in its own right, is central to studies of paratextuality in digital and analog games.[22]  The productive tension between these texts can be regarded as a source of meaning in its own right, as players and game designers alike struggle with the question of how different kinds of histories should be represented in games, and whether history-themed games can serve as a medium of historical argument and theorization.

Both of these questions are explicitly posed by the game Pax Pamir (2015), which offers a meticulously researched, ground-level perspective on the events of the so-called “Great Game,” the political and diplomatic confrontation between the British Empire and Russia in Central Asia in the 19th century.  Players are invited to assume the roles of Afghan tribal leaders forced to navigate the shifting “winds of colonial power” in 1820s Afghanistan.  At the start of the game, each player randomly draws a card that determines their initial loyalties, which can be British, Russian, or Afghan nativist (representing the Durrani Empire).  Over the course of gameplay, players compete to build up the military, economic, political, and intelligence capabilities of the Empires to which they've pledged loyalty, while simultaneously maximizing their influence with whichever Empire seems likeliest to come out on top.  More than one player can be loyal to the same Empire, but only one player will win the game, so loyalties can change and alliances will be broken as players build up armies, secure roads, vie for the allegiance of local tribes, and dispatch spies to undermine or assassinate enemies, all while politicking for influence.


In an interview I conducted with Cole Wehrle, designer of Pax Pamir, he acknowledged that when he first began thinking about the game, he envisioned it as something like a board game adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s novel Kim, the work which more than other gave birth to the image of the “Great Game” in Western historical consciousness and popular imagination.  The story narrated by the novel is a classic adventure-novel tale of espionage, with agents of the British and Russian empires cast as the heroes of the story, and the native inhabitants of the region serving primarily to provide local color. 

In the end, Wehrle concluded that the central narrative of the book was too “politically compromised,” as it glamorized the activities of the agents of Empire while disregarding the agency of the colonized.  It was at this point that he shifted the focus of the game from the intelligence war of European empires to the perspective of Afghan leaders competing for imperial patronage and local political support in a volatile and resource-poor region.  Wehrle credits one of his academic advisors at the time, the Africanist Barbara Harlowe, with the inspiration for this shift, which resulted from her recommendation that he read The Flashman Papers, a series of novels and short stories by the British author George MacDonald Fraser centering on the exploits of the fictional character Harry Flashman, a dashing but cowardly British soldier who becomes an accidental war hero as he blunders through a series of real historical incidents between 1839 and 1894, including the first Anglo-Afghan War. 

Wehrle describes the Flashman books as “accidentally brilliant parodies and satires that are really in tune with the way Edwardian values are looking at Empire… When I read that book, it became pretty clear that I didn’t want Pax Pamir to be a game about British spies or adventurers, because as soon as you buy into that, you’re going to get something like satire, and the problem with that satire is, like a James Bond story, it will be taken more and more seriously by people who don’t know what it’s poking fun at.”

Board game reviewer Alex Singh, in a preview of the second edition (2019) of Pax Pamir, wrote:

I was initially drawn to Pax Pamir for it's subject matter. One of the major regions depicted in the game is the birthplace of my father and still home to much of my family. There's a tickle of delight that washes over me whenever I see a card with someone that shares my name or looks like an uncle considering how rarely this part of the world is depicted in board games. But it was the representation of overlapping political influences and power dynamics that kept me coming back for more. In Pax Pamir, you are but an agent in a larger conflict. [….] Principles, allegiance, and ideology won't do you much good after you've been crushed under the boot of an invading army. It's the untold story of the people on the ground.[23]

In the scope it affords to player morality, as well as the constraints it places upon the agency of the players’ Afghan leaders, Pax Pamir challenges the simplistic equation of colonization and powerlessness.  In refusing the binary opposition between colonizer and colonized, or between European and Afghan value systems, it re-opens the question of which kinds of narratives are most effective in amending Eurocentric representations of history as the progressive triumph of Western civilization.  (One Afghan tribal leader is identified as a woman, which Wehrle has justified on historical grounds, while noting the surprise this has provoked among players whose assumptions about the status of women in traditional Islamic societies were shaped by Western media stereotypes.)  Many of the other designers discussed in this essay have been similarly willing to challenge conventional wisdom, from received ideas about the “whiteness” of the Roman Empire to casual assumptions about the prominence of women and gender-nonconformists in history.  Increasingly, designers of history-themed games confront the kinds of questions that were once the exclusive concern of academic historians: how can board games reflect the agency of the oppressed without reinforcing an ideological perspective on history, in which universal emancipation is the inevitable result of the spread of Western cultural values?  Can board games make teaching history more equitable and inclusive, while still capitalizing on the popular appeal of narratives of exploration, discovery, and conquest?  How can a game's affordances provide a critical or satirical perspective on the culture industry's romantic depictions of colonialism - a perspective, as Cole Wehrle notes, all too frequently lacking in popular representations of the period?  

However partial and provisional, the foregoing survey would seem to show that different games will answer these questions in different ways, appropriately enough given the diversity of board game players and enthusiasts at this stage of growth of the hobby.  This means also, I think, that we will always need more: more games about history, by more diverse groups of designers, that are designed to engage and include more kinds of players.

[1] In 2011, the National Research Council reported the results of a research study showing that although students exposed to a programming game did not result in any actual gains in programming knowledge, “it did appear to increase feelings of self-efficacy in the area of computer programming among both female and male students” (National Research Council, “Learning Science through Computer Games and Simulations,” in Honey, M.A., & Hilton, M.L. (eds.), Committee on Science Learning: Computer Games, Simulations, and Education (Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, Washington DC: The National Academies Press, 2011). Along similar lines, Barab and Dede (2007) argue that customizable in-game identities (avatars) foster higher self-confidence in learners by allowing them to disassociate from negative perceptions of their ability levels (Sasha Barab and Chris Dede, “Games and Immersive Participatory Simulations for Science Education: An Emerging Type of Curricula,” Journal of Science Education and Technology vol. 16 no. 1 (2007), pp.1-3). Meanwhile, digital game-based learning is said to broaden educational access through “the engagement of new learners who are more visually oriented, or who have literacy or numeracy or language problems” by de Freitas et. al. (de Freitas, S., Savill-Smith, C., & Attewell, J., Computer Games and Simulations for Adult Learning: Case Studies from Practice (London: Learning & Skills Network, 2006), p. 8).  More broadly, it is often argued that game-based learning will automatically increase student motivation and engagement: see Oblinger, D.G., “The Next Generation of Educational Engagement,” Journal of Interactive Media in Education no. 8, online at; Matthew T. Marino, Maya Israel, Constance C. Beecher and James D. Basham, “Students’ and Teachers’ Perceptions of Using Video Games to Enhance Science Instruction,” Journal of Science Education and Technology vol. 22 no. 5 (October 2013), pp. 667-680; Steinkuehler, C., & King, E., “Digital Literacies for the Disengaged: Creating After School Contexts to Support Boys’ Game-Based Literacy Skills,” On the Horizon, vol. 17 no. 1, pp. 47-59; and Jeremiah McCall, Gaming the Past: Using Video Games to Teach Secondary History (New York: Routledge, 2011), pp. 19-21. Often, the popularity of video games is taken as sufficient evidence for predicting high levels of student engagement with game-based learning: for example, the same National Research Council report cited above forecast a rosy future for “research on the role of games in sparking excitement and interest in science and science learning among diverse student groups,” based on the finding that African-American, Hispanic, and disabled students tend to spend more time playing video games than their white peers.  As can be seen from this sampling, studies on this topic often focus on perceptions of “self-efficacy” and student enjoyment of game-based learning across various subpopulations, rather than assessing engagement with the specific educational content delivered by the game. When such assessments are made (for example by measuring learning outcomes or educational gains), the results are often disappointing, although more quantitative studies are needed.  (For an interesting example of a study that does report such gains, see John B. Black, Saadia A. Khan and Shih-Chieh Doug Huang, “Video games as
Grounding Experiences for Learning,” in F. C. Blumberg (ed.), Learning by Playing: Frontiers of Videogaming in Education (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).
[2] Nicola Whitton, “Games for Learning: Creating a Level Playing Field or Stacking the Deck?” International Review of Qualitative Research, vol. 6 no. 3, Fall 2013, p. 428.
[3] Invaluable empirical research into the under-representation of women and people of color in board gaming has been carried out by Tanya Pobuda, as described and analyzed in her article, “Assessing Gender and Racial Representation in the Board Game Industry,” Analog Game Studies, vol. 5 no. 4 (December 2018), online at Meanwhile, there have been a variety of grass-roots efforts within the board gaming community to identify and promote games that feature more balanced and positive representation of women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color. Leading figures within the industry, including game designer Elizabeth Hargrave and board game reviewer, podcaster, and active Twitter contributor Suzanne Sheldon, have become outspoken advocates for greater diversity in board gaming. Other efforts have been crowd-sourced, harnessing the collective knowledge, energy, and interests of the online community hosted by the popular board gaming website, See for example the crowd-sourced “geeklist,” “Women in Games - Examples of Positive Representation,” created by BGG user “Gswp” at
[4] See for example Christopher Douglas,‘“You Have Unleashed a Horde of Barbarians!’: Fighting Indians, Playing Games, Forming Disciplines,” Post Modern Culture vol. 13 no. 1 (September 2, 2002); Kacper Poblocki,“Becoming-State. The Bio-Cultural Imperialism of Sid Meier's Civilization,” Focaal: European Journal of Anthropology 39 (2002), pp. 163- 177, accessed at on May 31, 2019; and Alexander R. Galloway, Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), pp. 85-107.
[5] See Will Robinson, “Orientalism and Abstraction in Board Games,” Analog Game Studies (December 2, 2014), accessed May 31, 2019 at; Greg Loring-Albright, “First Nations of Catan: Practices in Critical Modification,” Analog Game Studies (November 9, 2015), accessed May 31, 2019  at; and Nancy Foasberg, “The Problematic Pleasures of Productivity and Efficiency in Goa and Navegador,” Analog Game Studies (January 11, 2016), accessed May 31, 2019 at
[6] The wargaming blog covered the controversy in a series of posts, the first of which (though subsequently disavowed by its author) best captures the tenor of the initial public response: “Scramble for Africa: A Lesson in How Not to Launch a Game,” accessed May 31, 2019 at 
[7] I did not question any of the designers I interviewed as to ethnic, gender, or sexual identity.  Victoria Caña, co-designer of Gladius, identified as Filippino in a panel discussion at PAX Unplugged 2018 (“Designing Asian Themes and Settings in Games,” videorecording online at  It is possible that the sample includes other designers of color, just as it may include LGBTQ+ designers.
[8] As an example, board game content creator Bebo (Brittanie Boe), owner and founder of Be Bold Games, cites The Lost Expedition as an example of positive queer and trans representation in a Twitter thread started by game designer Nikki Valens on April 4, 2019:
[10] As one group of contributors put it, designers confront “the question of how we address issues of concern to young women that are glaringly absent in technological design without colluding in stereotypical understandings of femininity.” Cornelia Brunner, Dorothy Bennett, and Margaret Honey, “Girl Games and Technological Desire,” in Justine Cassell and Henry Jenkins (eds), From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998), p. 73.  Suzanne de Castell and Mary Bryson frame this question in more glaring terms: “Are we producing tools for girls, or are we producing girls themselves by, as Althusser (1984) would put it, ‘interpellating’ the desire to become the girl?” “Retooling Play: Dystopia, Dysphoria, and Difference,” From Barbie to Mortal Kombat, p. 251.
[11] Brunner et. al., “Girl Games and Technological Desire,” p. 81.
[12] Several studies included in the From Barbie to Mortal Kombat collection report that games involving abstract or mathematical puzzles were less likely to appeal to female participants, especially if these puzzles are not integral to the narrative or theme:  Kaveri Subrahmanyam and Patricia M. Greenfield, “Computer Games for Girls,” pp. 65-66; Suzanne de Castell and Mary Bryson, “Retooling Play,” pp. 248-249; and Cornelia Brunner, Dorothy Bennett, and Margaret Honey, “Girl Games and Technological Desire,” p. 84.
[13] Kaveri Subrahmanyam and Patricia M. Greenfield, pp. ; Cornelia Brunner, Dorothy Bennett, and Margaret Honey, “Girl Games and Technological Desire,” pp. ;
[14] The expansion is as yet unpublished.

[15] Suzanne de Castell and Mary Bryson, “Retooling Play,” p.
[16] Brandon Waite, review of The Lost Exhibition, episode #25 of the podcast Solosaurus, published February 1, 2019.
[17] See the mention of The Lost Expedition in the blog post, “Queer representation in board games,” published by John Pappas at, accessed June 3, 2019. The game is included the database of card games created by the Australian non-profit Queerly Represent Me, accessed June 3, 2019 at See also fn8 above.
[18] Jason Meyers, “Review: The Lost Expedition,” published March 16, 2018 at  Accessed June 3, 2019.
[19] J. W. MacCormack’s coins the term “existential colonialist” in his review of the Everyman Library’s edition of Marguerite Duras’s The Lover (“The Story of a Face,” The Baffler, January 3, 2018, accessed 5/27/19 at
[20] Bo Ruberg, Video Games Have Always Been Queer (New York: New York University Press, 2019), pp. 135-144.
[21]Another fruitful avenue of investigation is suggested by the queer readings of coloniality developed in Christopher Lane, The Ruling Passion: British Colonial Allegory and the Paradox of Homosexual Desire (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995), and in Hema Chari, "Colonial fantasies and postcolonial identities: elaboration of postcolonial masculinity and homoerotic desire," in John C. Hawley, ed., Postcolonial, Queer: Theoretical Instructions (Albany: State University of New York, 2001).
[22]  Developed by literary theorist Gerard Genette as a way to describe the “heterogenous group of practices and discourses of all kinds” that not only attach themselves to texts, but also condition the ways we interact with them, the term paratext has more recently been applied to the study of digital games by Mia Consalvo, Ian Peters, and Jonathan Gray, and to board games by media studies scholars Bethan Jones and Paul Booth: see Jones, “Unusual Geography: Discworld Board Games and Paratextual L-Space,” Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media 7 (2014),, and Booth, Game Play: Paratextuality in Contemporary Board Games (New York: Bloomsbury, 2015).


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