Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave
Game(s): Wingspan, Tussie-Mussie, Mariposas
Elizabeth Hargrave has been a board game lover for a long time, but at some point, became disenchanted with the fact that so many board games involved castles, medieval villages, trains, or trading economies in “vaguely Mediterranean locales.” Being a bird enthusiast, she turned to this passion to create a new game called Wingspan. In 2020, as the pandemic forced families to stay in their homes much more than before, the game outsold every other game its publisher makes combined. Slate.com describes how Wingspan works best: “In Wingspan, you, the player, control a small wildlife refuge, a little patch of ground with some forest, some grassland, a marsh. Your job is to populate the preserve with a flourishing array of birds.” (Check out their article for an in-depth look at Hargrave as a designer and how Wingspan works.) Women have responded overwhelmingly positively to Wingspan – while it’s unclear how many women or non-binary individuals have purchased the game, the game’s official Facebook group is made up of 40% women. Not only is Wingspan colourful, fun, and challenging, it is also an easy entry into the activity of bird watching. Hargrave’s other games can also teach us about history and the natural world: Tussie-Mussie is based on a Victorian fad that assigned meanings to the flowers that friends and lovers exchanged, and Mariposas “is a game of movement and set collection” that lets players be part of the “amazing journey” that monarch butterflies take when they leave Mexico to spread across North America. Find more information about Elizabeth Hargrave at her website.