Interview – A Seat at the Table: Diverse Voices in Tabletop Gaming Magazine
Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Perry, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of A Seat at the Table: Diverse Voices in Tabletop Gaming.
First, give us a general overview of the magazine.
The goal of A Seat at the Table: Diverse Voices in Tabletop Gaming (ASATT) is to provide a platform for women, People of Color, LGBTQ+, and disabled gamers to share their experiences in the tabletop industry and celebrate their accomplishments. It’s a biannual online magazine with one issue released in summer and one in winter. The goal is to increase awareness of the issues faced by underrepresented groups in the tabletop industry, and we primarily do that by publishing personal essays from gamers about their experiences.
We have submission windows during which contributors can submit their work to be considered for publication, and after the deadline our editors review the submissions and choose which ones to include in that issue. There are three sections you can submit to: On Being in the Industry, On Celebrating Creators, and On News and Insights.
On Being in the Industry is the personal essays section where gamers share personal experiences they’ve had during their time in the industry. On Celebrating Creators is all about sharing the amazing work that’s being generated, and that can be anything from gaming-related artwork and published designs to RPG publications and podcasts/blogs. On News and Insights is focused on sharing relevant industry news and opinion pieces or articles. We welcome submissions from those in all kinds of industry roles, including but not limited to designers, publishers, writers, retailers, and players.
How did you get involved in tabletop gaming?
My dad plays a lot of video games, so I’ve been around games in some form or another for the majority of my life, but I really started getting interested in board games during my last year in high school. I didn’t really have any friends that were interested in them, too, until I went to my university and joined the Game Studies and Design (GSD) minor there. The minor was primarily focused on board game design, which was unique and perfect for what I was interested in, and that’s where my regular gaming group got started. We started meeting a few times a week to go to the university’s gaming club and play games, and it just sort of spiraled from there.
Were there any events or people in particular that inspired you to create this?
I hadn’t been gaming too long before I jumped into designing and attending cons as part of my university program, so I didn’t have a whole lot of background knowledge of the community or culture surrounding the industry prior to getting more heavily involved. I had a few sexist encounters early on and was shocked at the corners of the industry that are still very resistant to the concept of inclusion. I was lucky enough that I found women that were willing to share their experiences and their knowledge with me, but not everyone is lucky enough to have that opportunity and the issue of inclusivity in the industry goes far beyond sexism. That’s why our audience includes women as well as people of color, LGBTQ+, and disabled gamers. Being able to connect with gamers that have had similar experiences as myself helped me get through some rough patches and entering into those discussions has helped open my eyes to some of the other inclusivity issues that gamers are facing. I wanted to help create a space where those discussions can keep happening and where the people affected by these issues can be the prominent voices in that space.
There are several forms of media that could have served a similar purpose. Why did you ultimately choose a biannual online magazine?
I thought about going with a couple of different forms of media before ultimately settling on the current form. I considered trying to gather authors to contribute to an anthology of essays, but only having a small amount of space in a single product felt like it would be too limiting to the voices I wanted people to hear, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to host a blog well enough to do anyone justice since I also still work a day job. I was an editor of the campus literary magazine while I was in college, and ASATT is structured very similarly to that publication. Hosting it online seemed like the best avenue to reach a wider audience, and it’s important to me that we keep an archive of all the past issues easily accessible to everyone, so that’s what I felt would be the best choice.
What sort of obstacles have you had to overcome? Specifically in relation to creating the magazine?
The biggest obstacle I’ve had to face so far, and the one that I anticipate I’ll be facing for a while, is encouraging people to submit content. We release two issues a year, so the submission window is relatively lengthy, but since the magazine’s content is entirely centered around having gamers share their personal experiences and accomplishments it’s a constant hustle to try to get people involved. Since ASATT is so new, the biggest goal right now is to just spread awareness that it exists and try to get others excited and involved.
What are some potential goalposts set for the magazine? Where would you like to be in one year? Five years? Ten years?
I’m incredibly excited and anxious to get our first issue out this year. Once we get that accomplished, we’ll just keep the ball rolling from there. Right now we’re entirely online-based, but my goal is to get print runs together within the next five years to start distributing, perhaps through a subscription service or at conventions. If we can increase the number of contributors and submissions I’d also love to be able to increase the amount of issues released each year.
When will the first issue be released?
The first issue is set to come out this summer in June. We’ll have a copy of it archived on our website, and we’ll also be distributing it via email to those subscribed to our newsletter.
Where can people support the magazine or get involved?
You can sign up on our website to receive our newsletter and stay informed on all the different ways to get involved with what we’re doing as they come up, but the best way to get involved right now is to consider submitting content for the first issue. All the information on the submission process is on our website at www.asattmagazine.com. The important thing is that we remain active in and open to the discussion while genuinely listening and supporting those that are brave enough to share their experiences.