Women and Nonbinary Board Game Designers: the Americas

In 2018, only 7 games of the top 200 on Board Game Geek had a non-male designer involved. (It's now up to 10.) I got tired of being called "one of very few non-male board game designers," so I started compiling a list and ended up with over 200 women with published games.

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Western North America

Susan McKinley Ross | California


Susan was the first (and only) woman to win the Spiel des Jahres for a solo design, with her game Qwirkle. She also designed Hoot Owl Hoot and more than a dozen other games.

Marsha Falco | Arizona


Marsha designed the game Set in 1974. She gambled her kids' college fund to print the first 5,000 copies. Thirty years later, it's still in print.

Shanon Lyon | Washington

Shanon was a designer at Cranium before becoming a freelance designer and founding the design group Department of Recreation with Marisa Peña.

Marisa Peña | Washington

At Department of Recreation, Marisa and Shanon have published several games, including Outfoxed, which won the Kinderspiel des Jahres in 2018.

Deirdre Cross | Washington

Deirdre is Director of Product Development at Funko.

Nicole Jekich | Washington


Nicole co-designed the game Food Truck Champion as a freelance designer before joining the staff at Forrest Pruzan (now Funko). She's also director of events for PlaytestNW.

Victoria Caña | Washington


Victoria worked as a management consultant before joining the staff at Wizards of the Coast as a game producer. She recently Kickstarted her game Gladius.

Emma Larkins | Washington


Emma is the co-host of the Ludology podcast. Her published games include Abandon All Artichokes, ...and then we died and Heartcatchers.

Mary Jo Reutter | California

Mary Jo has designed over a dozen published family games including Sumo Ham Slam, Laundry Jumble, and Buck Buck Moose.

Elisa Teague | California


Elisa has an incredibly diverse oeuvre that includes kid-friendly (Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My), trivia (Geek Out!), hobby game (Apocrypha Adventure), puzzles, and RPGs. She also edited the book Girls on Games.

Rachel Simmons | California

Rachel (who continues to work under her former name, Bowen) is a wargame designer whose titles include Napoleon's Triumph and The Guns of Gettysburg. She has twice been a finalist for the James F. Dunnigan Award for outstanding achievement in historical wargames.

Rebecca Bleau | California

Rebecca has designed multiple escape room games, including Mystery at Stargazer's Manor and Secret of Dr. Gravely's Retreat, as well as several lighter games like Wooly Whammoth. She co-founded Blue Matter Games.

Rosie Roberson | Oregon

Rosie has a dozen published family games including Cha-Cha Chihuahua, Say the Word, What's It, and This Big!.

Brenda Romero | California


Brenda is a widely-acclaimed, award-winning video game designer. She has also designed analog games in a series called The Mechanic is the Message, all exploring difficult experiences through the medium of games.

Gina Manola | California


Gina is the award-winning designer of the games Feed the Woozle and Race to the Treasure. She also directed ChiTAG's Young Inventor Challenge.

Alice Davis | Oregon


Alice is designer of Kitten Klash, Thieves' Den, and Dinos Not Assembled.

Molly Johnson | Washington


Molly is part of the Flatout design collective. Their first game, Point Salad, will be released soon from AEG.

Connie Kazmaier | Alberta


Connie and her partner at Steeped Games wanted to make sure their game Chai had global appeal -- so they tested it with over 500 people in 26 countries.

Sarah Reed | California


Sarah's self-published games include Oaxaca and Project Dreamscape. She was also a host on the Our Turn! Podcast.

Juliana Patel and Ariel Rubin | California


Juliana and Ariel had a successful Kickstarter for their game Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment. Then it got picked up by Mattel.

Richelle Brady | California


Richie worked at Cryptozoic Entertainment as a designer for Adventure Time Card Wars, Portal, and DC Comics Deckbuilding Game. They currently work at Square Enix as North America Tabletop Games Lead for FINAL FANTASY TCG, Chocobo Party Up!, and Cactpot Party.

Malorie Laukat | Utah


Malorie co-founded Red Raven Games and co-designed their recent release Megaland.

Sarah Graybill | California

@thegraybillion , @BlackStrawGames

Sarah Graybill is half of the design studio Black Straw Games. Their games include Grackles, Animal Crackers, and Rocket Squad.

Stephanie Kwok | British Columbia

Stephanie is co-founder of First Fish Games and co-designer of Get Off My Land!

Lizzy Funkhouser | California


Lizzy is a co-designer of The Walking Dead: Something to Fear and Pocket Generals, both releasing in 2019. She also runs The Board Game Spotlight.

Colleen McCarthy Evans | California

Colleen has co-designed over a dozen published family games with Joyce Johnson, including Sounds Like a Plan and In a Pickle. She is also an award-winning children’s book illustrator.

Joyce Johnson | California

Joyce co-designed over a dozen published family games with Colleen McCarthy Evans, including Sounds Like a Plan and In a Pickle. Her more recent games are collaborations with other designers.

Teeuwynn Woodruff | Washington


Teeuwynn was a game designer at Wizards of the Coast for over a decade. She has worked in RPGs, puzzles, trading cards, miniatures, and board games, including Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering, Duelmasters, Dreamblade, AngelQuest, and Betrayal at House on the Hill.

Liz Spain | Washington


Liz works at Lone Shark Games, where she designs card mechanics for games such as the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and Apocrypha. She has also designed LARPs and escape rooms.

Tanis O'Connor | Washington


Tanis O'Connor is a developer at Lone Shark Games, and works on the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.

Gaby Weidling | Washington


Gaby is a puzzle designer and game developer who works at Lone Shark Games. She has worked on the Pathfinder Adventure series and other games.

Erin Lee Escobedo | Arizona


Erin is the designer of 2018 game Meltwater: A Game of Tactical Starvation.

Lisa Steenson | Washington


Lisa founded Gut Bustin' Games to promote her game Redneck Life. Trailer Park Wars was an Origins Award Nominee in 2008. Her other games include Oh Gnome You Don’t, Cheap Shot, and Creeps of Keister Island.

Roberta Taylor | Alberta


Roberta is the designer of Octopus' Garden (to be reimplemented as Starfish Kingdom), plus others forthcoming.

Kai Jensen | California

Kai is a co-designer of the wargame Combat Commander: Pacific, winner of the Golden Geek award for best wargame in 2009.

Calli Wright | California


Calli is a co-designer for MathMINDs Games -- storybook board games that combine math, history and literacy. Her first solo design is Moonshell: A Mermaid Game. She's also a content creator with Unfiltered Gamer, where she does a video series called Calli's Corner.

Liberty Kifer | Washington


Liberty's first design, Crystallo, won 7 awards in a BGG solo print and play game contest. She leveraged that into a very successful Kickstarter campaign.

Jen Ellis | Oregon

@jellispants, @twogetherstudio

Jen is co-founder of Twogether Studios and has worked on all of their titles including Illimat and Phoenix Dawn Command. She designed Action Cats and Action Pups.

Karen Knoblaugh | California


Karen's first game, Consumption, draws on her background as a dietician.

Anna-Marie Nelson | Utah

Anna-Marie co-designed Healthy Heart Hospital, released in 2015 by Victory Point Games.

Dani Hedlund | Colorado


Dani Hedlund published her first novel at age 18, founded an international literary nonprofit (Tethered by Letters) and an art and literary collection (F(r)iction), and a board game company (Bad Hipster Games). Her first game is Brexit: the Board Game of Second Chances.

Ami Baio | Oregon


Ami is the founder of Pink Tiger Games, making "super kind and super fun" games. Her games include You Think You Know Me and Flatter Me: The Compliment Battle Card Game.

Jenn Sandercock | Washington

Jenn is an Australian game designer living in the US. She has worked primarily in digital games, but recently had a successful Kickstarter for a cookbook of edible analog games.

Rebekah Bissell | Colorado

Rebekah started out by designing games for her own children, and then graduated to designing for print-and-play contests on BGG. That led to three published games: The Livestock Market, Reindeer Races, and Knock Your Blocks Off.

Jessica Pierce | Arizona


Jessica is an illustrator, animator, and graphic designer who co-designed the card game Boss Battle.

Marie Wong | British Columbia


Marie is Creative Director for Hot Banana Games, aiming to publish games on Asian themes by Asians. Her first game is Steam Up: A Feast of Dim Sum.

Pauline-Fate Kong | British Columbia


Pauline is a cofounder of Hot Banana Games. Her first game is Steam Up: A Feast of Dim Sum.

Central North America

Peggy Brown | Wisconsin

Peggy is a prolific designer of mass-market games with three decades in the toy and game industry.

Kathleen Mercury | Missouri


Kathleen both teaches game design and makes games. You can hear her on podcasts including Our Turn!, On Board Games, and Games in Schools and Libraries.

Carla Kopp | Alabama


Carla is designer of Super Hack Override and Stellar Leap, and developer of several other games published by her company, Weird Giraffe Games.

Amabel Holland | Michigan


Amabel is the co-founder of the publishing company Hollandspiele. She has designed over 50 games, mostly focusing on train games and wargames. They include Irish Gauge, This Guilty Land, and Northern Pacific.

Anne-Marie De Witt | Texas


Anne-Marie is CEO of Fireside Games and designer or co-designer of titles including Munchkin Panic, Bears!, The Village Crone, and Bloodsuckers.

Kim Vandenbroucke | Illinois


Kim has many published titles including Blue Plate Scramble, Scattergories Categories, and The Build Up. She also consults on games under the wonderful title Brainy Chick.

Adrienne Ezell | Tennessee


Adrienne is an accomplished boardgame graphic designer, and also designs her own games -- including Shogunate and Ventures in the Void.

Nikki Valens | Minnesota


Nikki spent 5 years at Fantasy Flight games before becoming a freelance game designer and developer. Their design credits include Eldritch Horror, Mansions of Madness 2nd edition, and Legacy of Dragonholt.

MJ Newman | Minnesota


MJ is a Senior Game Designer at Fantasy Flight Games, where she is the co-lead on Arkham Horror: the Card Game and a developer on Lord of the Rings: the Card Game . She's also the author of a YA fantasy novel.

Molly Glover | Minnesota

Molly is a producer and game developer at Fantasy Flight, where's she's worked on many titles; she got co-designer credit on Battle for Rokugan.

Kara Centell-Dunk | Minnesota


Kara is a developer at Fantasy Flight who who has led development of expansions for Mansions of Madness 2ed and did development on many Descent: Journeys in the Dark expansions including the campaign book, Heirs of Blood.

Grace Holdinghaus | Minnesota

Grace is a developer at Fantasy Flight, with co-designer credits on Mansions of Madness 2ed and Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth.

Danielle Deley | Ohio


Danielle is a board game designer and co-founder of Storm Chaser Games. Her first game is the mind-reading party game Medium. She also works as an artist and illustrator.

Mary Couzin | Illinois

@MaryCouzin , @ToysandGames

Mary designed commercially successful game Hollywood's Reel Schpeel before going on to found the Chicago Toy and Game Fair.

Elizabeth LaPensée | Michigan


Elizabeth is an artist, writer, and researcher who designs primarily digital games. She worked with indigenous communities to design a board game called The Gift of Food.

Mandy Goddard | Indiana


Mandy is co-designer of the games Lotus and Death Note: Confrontation.

Katie Khau | Illinois


Katie is co-designer of the games Windup War and Heifer Heist. She's also a boardgame illustrator, perhaps most notably for My Little Scythe.

Jessica Chu | Illinois


Jessica is co-designer of Windup War and Heifer Heist.

Christienne Hinz | Illinois


Dr. Hinz is studying the gamification of world history pedagogy with computer games, role-playing games, and board games that model the economic systems and socio-political structures of the past.

Khiara Foss | Minnesota

@PuzzleyPunk @EnigmaEmporium

Khiara is half of the team behind The Enigma Emporium, a company that creates narrative adventure puzzle games including Wish You Were Here and Blowback. She also works in the escape room industry.

Cara Ryan Heacock | Nebraska

@caramiki , @waterbeargames

Cara's first co-design, Discount Salmon, won the Tabletop Deathmatch in 2014. Other titles from her company Water Bear Games include Beeeees! and Nom Nom Pretzel.

Maxine Ekl | Illinois


Maxine's card-arranging game Stripes was just released by Breaking Games.

Alisha Volkman | Minnesota


Alisha is an illustrator & game designer. Her game Underlings of Underwing is about color theory and dragons. She’s now working on several other titles including War Torn and Escape from Kraken Cove.

Julie Ahern | Illinois

Julie started out designing educational games before becoming a developer and writer for Greenbrier Games, where she now serves as Chief Operating Officer.

Cecilia Hyland | Michigan


CC is the co-designer of games including Fleecing Olympus, Istanbul or Constantinople, and Above Snakes.

Carla Horger | Ohio

Carla is co-designer of several racing-themed games, including Thunder Alley and Grand Prix. Her 2019 release is titled Dark Domains.

Lorri Hopping | Michigan


After developing educational games for Aristoplay in the 90s, Lorri has created games for companies like Penguin and PBS. Her published titles teach math, history, science, and Shakespeare.

Kyla McT | Minnesota


Kyla is a game producer with Atlas Games. They put out her design Gloom of Thrones in 2019.

Liz Snyder | Oklahoma


Liz is the designer of the party game Mixed Company.

Erica Svanoe | Minnesota


Erica designed Marrying Mr. Darcy, a card game based on the Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice. She is also a composer and conductor.

Erin McDonald | Texas


Erin is a co-founder of Kraken Games, and co-designer of Evil Intent, Asking for Trobils, Flippin Monsters, and more forthcoming.

Karen Cleveland | Michigan


Karen is a biologist who works for Michigan Department of Natural Resources as a game designer. Her game What in the Wild is being distributed to classrooms across Michigan.

Becca Lafair | Illinois


Becca and her brothers designed Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game after they saw the crazy boundaries of their hometown Congressional district. Arnold Schwarzenegger backed their Kickstarter and paid to send copies of the game to all the members of the Supreme Court.

Ellie Skalla | Illinois

Ellie's game Galactiquest won the ChiTAG Young Innovator's Challenge for "Most Marketable Game " when she was in 6th grade. It got picked up by Pressman and is now available at Target.

Eastern North America

Elizabeth Hargrave | Maryland


I designed Wingspan and the forthcoming games Tussie-Mussie and Mariposas. You're on my website -- have a look around.

Mary Flanagan | New Hampshire


Mary is a professor of game design and author of Critical Play. Her boardgames include Monarch, Visitor in Blackwood Grove, Buffalo, and Mechanica.

Suzanne Kabrt-Zinsli | New Jersey


Suzanne is co-designer of the games Tessen, Cobras, and Ceylon, and provides amazing resources for designers through Cardboard Edison.

Kristin Looney | Maryland


Kristin is CEO of game company Looney Labs and has designed or co-designed several Pyramid games and versions of the hit game Fluxx.

Mary Ellroy | Connecticut

Mary starting working in the game and toy field in 1990 when she sold her first game to Mattel, and she has more than 30 published toys and games. She works as a consultant and agent who will show your games to Mattel and Hasbro if it meets their criteria.

Erica Hayes-Bouyouris | Ontario


Erica is co-designer of Roar, Ink Monsters, Bosk, and several other forthcoming games. You can also catch her on Meeple Syrup.

Naomi Clark | New York


Naomi is a game scholar and designer at the NYU Game Center. Her 2014 card game Consentacle explores sexuality and consent. She is also author of the book A Game Design Vocabulary: Exploring the Foundational Principles Behind Good Game Design.

Helaina Cappel | Ontario

@kidstablebg, @burntislandgm

Helaina is founder of two publishing companies, Kids' Table and Burnt Island. Her co-designed games include Food Fighter and Haunt the House.

Colleen Macklin | New York


Colleen is a game designer and Associate Professor at Parsons School of Design . She is a founder of PETLab, which develops games for experimental learning and social engagement, and of Local No. 12, a game design collective. She is co-author of the books Games, Design and Play and Iterate: Ten Lessons in Design and Failure.

Jennifer Graham-Macht | NJ


Jennifer owned a game store, then became a marketing consultant and Marketing Director for Keymaster Games. She co-designed the upcoming release Kibble Scuffle.

Pam Walls | Ontario


Pam designed the party game Hold That Face, published by Hasbro, and has more underway. She's been helping connect women designers on the Board Game Broads Facebook group.

Heather O'Neill | Pennsylvania


Heather is CEO of Ninth Level Games, and has co-designed titles including Meeple Party and Schrodinger's Cats.

Catherine Croft Swanwick | Virginia


Catherine is co-founder of Catlilli Games, which focuses on educational STEM games. She's also got a PhD in neuroscience.

Shannon McDowell | Ontario


Shannon is an escape room designer and researcher with an escape room game forthcoming from Maple Games, as well as other games under development.

Nicole Amato | Pennsylvania


Nicole is co-designer of Atari's Centipede (the boardgame), Lazer Ryderz, Resistor, and more games on the way.

Catherine Stipell | New York


Catherine made a big splash with her innovative game Nyctophobia, where all but one player play blindfolded.

MaryMartha Ford-Dieng | New York


MaryMartha created the party game The Ultimate Clap Back.

Kelly North Adams | Florida


Kelly's games include Veggie Garden, Chibi Quest, and Musical Chairs. She is one of the people featured in the documentary The Game Designers.

Adriel Wilson | Pennsylvania


Adriel works in mobile games and designs both RPGs and board games. They're COO of 9th Level Games and co-designer of Schrödinger’s Cats.

Sydney Engelstein | NJ


Sydney co-designed The Dragon and Flagon, Space Cadets and Survive: Space Attack! She's a developer for Stronghold Games.

Cassie Friedman | Florida


Cassie wears many hats in the industry: reviewer with The Indie Game Report, localization manager for Letiman Games, and designer. Her game Wizard Shelf is coming out in 2019 and there are more in the works!

Traci Van Wagoner | New York

@itdnyc , @TraciVanWagoner

Traci's co-designs include Ninja Squirrels and Rooster Race. She also works as an illustrator and children's book author.

Adrienne Smith | Massachusetts

@BlitzChampz , @adriennethe10

Adrienne is a tackle football player who created Blitz Champz, a card game about football that sneaks in some math skills for kids.

Lindsey Rode | Pennsylvania


Lindsey is creative director for Dog Might Games, and designer of the game Countdown: Action Edition.

Diane Sauer | New Jersey


Diane is the co-designer of Pinball Showdown, Bigfoot vs Yeti, and Born to Serve. She also runs a business that restores pinball machines!

Gwen Ruelle | New York


Gwen is half of Runaway Parade Games, designers of recently Kickstarted game Fire Tower.

Sarah Farber | New York

@sarafarber, @GalacticSneeze

Sarah is the co-founder of Galactic Sneeze, creators of family game Schmovie and adult party game Spank the Yeti. She has worked for Fisher-Price, Hasbro, Spin Master, and Sesame Workshop.

Adi Slepack | New York


Adi is one of three women (with Ellie Black and Liz Roche) behind the game Someone Has Died, which they successfully Kickstarted.

Nashra Balagamwala | New York


Nashra worked at Hasbro before designing the indie game Arranged -- a commentary on arranged marriage that received extensive press coverage -- and several other games drawing on her experiences as a Pakistani and an artist.

Morgane Gouyon-Rety | Quebec


Morgane is the designer of Volume VIII in GMT’s COIN Series: Pendragon – The Fall of Roman Britain.

Rita Orlov | New York


Rita Orlov is getting rave reviews for her epic narrative puzzle adventure, The Tale of Ord.

Latesha Williams | New York


Latesha co-designed the mass-market trivia game Black Card Revoked, which was turned into a black culture trivia game show on BET. She is the co-founder of the publishing company Cards For All People.

Christina Pittre | Pennsylvania


Christina's first game, On the Rocks, funded on Kickstarter in 2019.

Emily Escovar | New York

@emilyescovar , @PluckOffGame

Emily's first game is Pluck Off, a set-collecting parody of city life featuring pigeon characters and limericks.

Colleen Skadl | New York

Colleen is the co-designer of several games including Red Dragon Inn, En Garde, and Kung Fu Fighting.

Joan Wendland | New Jersey


Joan founded Blood and Cardstock games in 2002. Her designs include What Would Who Do, Dim Sum Derby, and Counting Zzzzs.

Molly Zeff | New York


Molly co-designed Wing It: The Game of Extreme Storytelling.

Fertessa Scott | Georgia

@Fertessa , @BookofVillainy

Fertessa's game Book of Villainy was a finalist in the Board Game Workshop contest in 2018.

Karen Boginski | Florida

Karen is co-designer of the games Renaissance Wars and Tournament at Camelot.

Helana Hope | Ontario

Helana is a co-designer of Kingdom Rush: A Rift in Time.

Bonnie Neubauer | Pennsylvania


Bonnie is an author, writing teacher, grief coach, and game designer. Her first published game will be ADJitation from Breaking Games.

Violet Hargrave | Connecticut


Violet primarily writes tabletop RPG material, but also co-designed IDW's Missile Command and several self-published board games. (We're not related!)

Allison Parrish | New York


Allison is a computer programmer, poet, and game designer whose teaching and practice look at the intersection between language and computers. She codesigned Rewordable, a word building game where the units of play are cards with sequences of letters.

Jessica Creane | Pennsylvania


Jessica designs infinite tabletop games (Schrödinger's Cat) and game-theater experiences (Chaos Theory, R&J), including collaboration with the National Parks Service and teaching game design at Drexel University.

Candy Weber | Florida

Candy's BoardGameGeek: The Card Game is her first published game. Her game Trios is signed by Flying Lemur Games and scheduled for release on Arbor Day, 2020.

Marja Erwin | Virginia

Marja is the designer of Tatchanka, forthcoming from Legion Wargames.

Lillian Medville | New York


Lillian is an artist, filmmaker, and writer who designed Your Privilege Is Showing, a game that allows for direct and personal conversations about privilege and equity.

Chantel Calloway | Massachusetts


Chantel designed Rhyme Antics, a game she describes as “Catch Phrase meets karaoke.” Players engage in a battle of words to test their vocabulary and speed.

Rachel Reilly | New York


Rachel designed Flipology and is currently working on a TTRPG and several board games.

Rebecca Vessenes | Massachusetts

Rebecca co-designed The Phoenix Syndicate, published by Asmadi Games. She was also a core playtester for Innovation and Glory to Rome.

Maia & Athia Strohm | Pennsylvania

Maia and Athia designed their first game, Wild, when they were in 3rd and 7th grade. Their trading card game Edge of Extinction is now available for sale in several US National Parks.

Chidi Paige | New Jersey

@ChidiPaige, @birdwiser

Chidi is a biologist and STEAM educator who designed the game BirdWiser.

Tanisha Hall | South Carolina


Tanisha made Hillman the Game after playing The Game of Life and wishing there were Black characters. She created a game that riffs on favorite characters from 80s and 90s tv shows, and started the company In All Seriesness to publish it.

Jewlz Holzschuh | New York


Jewlz co-designed Penguin Slap! In her day job, she's an artist who does compositing for film.

Elisa Prashad | Ontario

Elisa is a life-long ballet dancer and has created two dance-themed board games, including On Pointe.

Sara Perry | Alabama


Sara is an industry professional working for Jellybean Games and Pandasaurus Games. Her first game is Gift of Tulips.

Tory Brown | Washington, DC


Tory is the designer of Votes for Women, which launched on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. She also works as a political communications strategist for progressive causes.

Latin America

Samanta Geraldini | Brazil


Samanta co-designed the games Cafe Express, Cartas a Vapor, and New Eden Project. and co-founded the company Potato Cat Games. She also works as a mobile game developer.

Bianca Melyna | Brazil


Bianca is a co-founder of Moby Studios and co-designer of the games Grasse and Overdrive. She also works as a translator and proofreader.

Sabrina do Valle | Brazil


Sabrina's games include Sereias from Potato Cat games and several self-published titles.

Isabel Butcher | Brazil


Isabel designed the children's games Quero-Quero and Macacos me mordem! and published them under her company, Curió Jogos.

Cami Muñoz Villar | Chile

Cami is a chilean boardgame designer. Her first game, Corruptia, won Best Game in The Mouse Awards 2019, a Chilean people's choice award.