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Women in the gaming industry: Q&A with Sarah Kennington

Women in the gaming industry Sarah Kennington

Women in the gaming industry Sarah Kennington

This past week I was fortunate to speak with Sarah Kennington, from One Free Elephant, about women's roles within the gaming industry. I also got to find out a little bit more about her board gaming interests and you can read her comments below:

How did you get into gaming and how long have you played board games?

I've played board games my whole life as my mum was (and still is) an avid gamer. They tended to be mainstream games such as Monopoly, Risk, Yatzee and Colditz - with lots of card games (with standard cards) thrown in too.

What are your favourite games and genre?

My favourite genre is transport inspired games such as Ticket To Ride, Pirate Cove and Survival. Basically I like to play anything where the player manages pirates, boats or trains!! My current favourite game changes based on what I'm playing. At the moment its Alchemists, as I love the deduction, planning and skill required to do well.

How often do you play games?

I often play games a couple of times a week. We have a regular night at a friends and try and play at home at least once per week.

Have you ever had any bad experiences due to being a women that likes games?

No. A lot of the women I know are gamers and within my own social circle I've never seen anyone excluded due to their gender. I've had weird looks from colleagues at work when I talk about games and try to recommend games but I put this down to their ignorance rather than any bias though.

How did you make transition from gamer to designer?

I was in our car driving south to a Pokemon event and started the conversation about "if you could design a board game, what would it be?" The idea took hold and I designed a game! The transition was challenging as I played less games and spent more time either designing or investigating how to produce the game.

What is the main reaction you get when promoting your game and do you think it would be different if you were male?

To be honest, the response has always been on how cool the game looked, or on how great the prototype components were. I used to make a lot of card crafts, and I utilised my crafting tools and skills to make good components to play with. I also had the cards designed early on and they were used as part of the play-testing.

There have been very few questions on me as a woman, and I was accepted (no gender questions asked) into two great play-testing groups - Glasgow Games Lab and the Edinburgh Playtest group.

I honestly don't see that I am treated any differently, and if anything, the fact that I am open and will draw people into conversation with me helps a lot.

What is your main motivation for creating games?

I wanted to make games that were interesting and fun for my kids and grandchildren.

If you could give any advice to women that want to get into the business what would it be?

Find a play-test group, go along and just do it. I am the only female in both of my play-testing groups. I find the biggest barrier for women is that there are so few women designers they many women may perceive that they will be ignored or not heard.

My husband found the play-test groups for me after I had started designing, and to be honest it never ever occurred to me to look. I don't think all women environments are needed, just open and honest groups where the focus is good games.

What do you hope your future holds as a designer?

I would really like to design more games, especially family games, and build a great collection of quality games.


Sarah's latest game is called Ore-Some and is now live on Kickstarter! Ore-Some is a strategic game for between two and four players and is played over six rounds of two phases each! The game is set down in the mines and whoever makes the most money at the end of the game will be the winner!

We would like to thank Sarah for taking the time to answer Martyn's questions!