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Black Lives Matter and Alley Cat Games planned actions

The ongoing events and Black Lives Matter protests are a stark reminder that racial inequality is an issue that affects all facets of society. We want to make it clear that we stand with all of those who have been harmed, marginalized, or silenced due to the colour of their skin. We believe unequivocally that Black lives matter.

Board games bring people together, but we cannot ignore how much more work needs to be done both within this community and those around us to break down the barriers that continue to keep people out.

Many people aren't aware that Alley Cat Games is a publisher founded by those from minority groups. We've always made our games the sole focus of our work, but understand that being more vocal as a publisher may encourage other minorities to become involved in the industry.

We are very proud of the games we have published and are lucky to have worked with games from extremely distinguished and intelligent designers. However, we cannot get away from the fact that apart from the games designed by myself and my wife, there are no games we have published designed by women or a gender minority, and only a few from a BAME background or ethnicity.

With this in mind, we have reviewed our game submissions evaluation procedures and wish to implement a system reminiscent to the NFL “Rooney Rule”.

To this end we propose the following changes for design submissions:

  1. We will add an optional box in our games submission form for those who wish to partake in this scheme requiring some additional demographic information.

  2. The bare minimum we will do for all these designers is to offer a paragraph of objective (where possible) and subjective feedback on why we would like to take it forward or why it is not a fit for ACG. In addition we will send actionable feedback for how we believe the game could be improved.

  3. If we like the game (for potential publication) we will then automatically invite the designers to a free one hour demo session via video or Tabletop Simulator. This is something we rarely do at this stage. However, again, if it is not a game for us, we will spend a minimum of 15 minutes going through the game as to how to improve it. During this session, if it is not a game for us we will also openly suggest other publishers we would feel are a better fit.

For the past few weeks, we have been offering ‘playtest hours’ to selected designers to give back to and support the design community. We have had a lot of positive feedback from this and we would like to specifically extend this to minority groups to increase the representation of people who are currently poorly represented within the board game design community. In the coming weeks, we will be releasing more formal information as to how these designers can participate in the scheme through our social media channels.

Additionally, although we have always sought to be inclusive in the press copies we provide to reviewers when releasing new games, we want to do this in a more measured way. As such we will be seeking out more reviewers from BAME and LGTBQ+ backgrounds, and actively encourage those within these communities to reach out to us, via our website contact form, as we will in turn be reaching out to you in the weeks and months to come.

Whilst we will continue to seek new ways to improve, but wanted to ensure we brought in some internal changes to provide more support for minorities within the tabletop industry. This is the first step on this path, but a vital one in ensuring that tabletop and wider society continue to be an equally inclusive and supportive environment for us all.

Caezar Al-Jassar and the Alley Cat Team


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