Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks at Green Ronin's recent women-only designer contest.

A couple of weeks ago, diversity in the comic book industry proved a very hot topic (see ICv2 columns by Rob Salkowitz and Steve Bennett here, here and here to refresh your memory).  This week, the gaming industry had its own brush with the diversity controversy with the announcement of a talent search by Green Ronin Publishing for a writer to create materials for its new The Lost Citadel RPG under the direction of the RPG’s developer C. A. Suleiman.  The catch?  Entries in the contest are limited to women only.  From the talent search announcement:  "…we are going to be running a talent search for women who are interested in coming to work on the project.  If you identify as female and dark fantasy is your jam, we want to see what you can bring to the table!  Not to worry, fellas, we have some other opportunities for you coming up later in the year, as well, but this talent search is just for the ladies."

Needless to say, the restriction on entrants attracted quite a bit of attention.  See this very lengthy EN World thread for one example, with posters on various boards, accusing Green Ronin of reverse discrimination and predicting the imminent demise of the company.  So I asked Green Ronin General Manager Nicole Lindroos what she hoped to accomplish through the contest.  With her permission, here are her responses:

Thorne:  Would you expand on the reasons for the contest?
Lindros:  We came at it from two sides.  I'd been talking about and thinking about the lack of mentorship in RPGs for women for a year or two and had started blogging about it a little because we've dramatically increased the number of women we work with at Green Ronin.

Then C.A. Suleiman and I were talking about how half the authors in the LC anthology were women.  He could draw on his contacts in both the RPG world and the horror fiction-writing world where he also works.  It would be a shame for the RPG to be "less diverse" than the anthology in that way and yet the pool of people appropriate for the work is so much smaller than it should be.

Logical conclusion:  let's do a talent search and invite women!

What has the response been from people familiar with Green Ronin?
The response from virtually all corners has been positive.  I have been both a tad overwhelmed and immensely grateful for all the public and private support we have received from our customers and fans, our colleagues in the game industry, and people who have been surprised and delighted that we noted and cared about recognizing them through an explicit diversity initiative.

Any concerns about discrimination claims?
Washington state specifically allows for and encourages businesses to enact diversity initiatives such as this talent contest and I am not concerned about our search being considered discrimination in any legal sense.  Thankfully again, the overwhelming number of people who have contacted us about it have been positive.  I have heard from many, many men who read our statement and understood that this single contest is not a job advertisement nor the only opportunity for people that Green Ronin plans to bring to the table this year.  The vast majority of responses have been some form of "I'd also love to have a chance to work on some Green Ronin products and I look forward to hearing more about future announcements that will apply to me."

Is there a cutoff date for entries and where can interested writers look for more information?
We are going to probably have to declare a cutoff based on number of entries rather than by date just for practical reasons.  We need to have time to review the submissions and make our selection and want to have that decided before the crowdfunding campaign for the RPG launches on June 6th.  We are still considering the final language but the rules and guidelines will be posted on April 17th.  We'll be putting together a source page and details to go along with the April 17th announcement.

--End of Interview--

Me, I am looking forward to the RPG and to seeing more women involved in the creative end of the industry.  I’ve seen statistics indicating that some 45-50% of boardgamers are female but only about 13% of designers are.  Kudos to Green Ronin for working to increase that percentage.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of