Female Symbol with Twenty Sided Die Inside

Staff Picks | International Women's Day

110 years after the very first National Women's Day in New York, today now marks the 44th International Women’s Day! All around the world, people are taking time to celebrate the accomplishments of women, protest oppression and discrimination based on sex, and discuss what it means to be female.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the ladies of the Twenty Sided Store staff have chosen our favorite games designed by women, and highlighted the designers who have given them life!

Staff Picks


Kristin Looney | Fluxx & the Fluxx line of games

Fluxx is the game of ever-changing rules! Each new cards adds or changes the rules as you go, and themed sets add even more insanity and chaos!

Kristin Looney is the primary founder and president of Looney Labs and is considered “the driving force behind the company.”

A former aerospace engineer, Kristin and her husband (whom she met while working at NASA) began their gaming company in 1996. During this time, Looney also worked full time as a manager of an IT department in an aerospace company, until she left in 1999 to focus solely on Looney Labs.

When their publisher filed for bankruptcy the next year, Looney and her husband decided they would not only develop games, but become publishers themselves. Since then, they have created new content, developed an entire line of Fluxx editions, and cultivated a strong staff - two-thirds of which, according to their site’s Who’s Who, are women. 

Classic Jenga

Leslie Scott | Jenga

In Jenga, you and your friends construct a tower and then slowly pull one block at a time. Suspense builds as the tower teeters - don’t let the tower fall.

Leslie Scott was born and educated in Africa, and eventually moved to England. Scott is one of most reputable and prolific game designers, with over 25 titles to her name, but none more known or beloved as her crowning achievement, Jenga.

Jenga is based on a Swahili word (a language Leslie is fluent in) that means “to build.” She launched the game at the London Toy Fair in 1983, where the Hasbro chairman was reported to have said, “we just have to have it.” To date, Jenga is one of the most beloved, best-selling games, selling more copies than Pictionary, Risk, and Life.

In 1991, Scott founded Oxford Games Ltd with graphic designer Sara Finch. In 2010 she was awarded the Wonder Women of Toys Inventor/Designer Award and the Tagie award for Excellence in Game Design followed in 2012. Outside of gaming, Leslie Scott is also known as one of three founding trustees of The Smithsonian UK Charitable Trust, which was established in 2012.


Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

Suzanne Goldberg | Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

Pour over case notes, maps, and clues as you try to track down the villain. This cooperative game can be played alone or with friends and put you in the mind and deerstalker hunting cap of the great Sherlock Holmes.

Not much is known about Suzanne Goldberg, but her popular series of Sherlock Holmes games are unique and beloved. An interesting blend of roleplay and strategy, players read the facts of their case, study detailed maps and clues, and then work together to solve the case. Originally published in the 80s, these games have been re-released and have seen a resurgence of popularity.

In an interview with Asmodee, the new publisher for the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detectives line, Goldberg’s games were described as “among the first to promote cooperative play.” For these groundbreaking games, Goldberg received the Charles S. Roberts Best Fantasy Board Game award in 1982 and the Spiel des Jahres award in 1985.


Rena Nathanson | Bananagrams

In this word game, race against other players to build crossword grids. Speed wins in this travel-sized anagram game!

Bananagrams, and the Bananagrams company, is the definition of a family game and family company. Rena Nathanson developed the game with her parents and her children as a game for themselves, but a positive reception from family friends convinced her to publish the word game.

Together with her family, Nathanson published the game and founded the Banagrams company, of which she is the CEO.

Since its creation, the Bananagrams Company has released several other games and their titular game Bananagrams has become one of the top ten best-selling games of the decade. Nathanson also received the Mumpreneur Inspirational Business Mum of the Year Award in 2012.

Eldritch Horror

Nikki Valens | Mansions of Madness & Eldritch Horror

Both Mansions of Madness and Eldritch Horror feature a team of investigators working together to solve mysteries and defeat Lovecraftian monsters. Both games use a blend of strategy, storytelling, and cooperation that creates an immersive and fulfilling experience.

When gamers think female powerhouses in gaming, they think Nikki Valens.

Ranked within the top 20 of board games designers on BoardGameGeek, and the only female designer with two games in the top 100, Valens’ games are well loved, highly reviewed, and best sellers. A typical Nikki Valens game (if any of her games can be called typical) blends elements of storytelling and strategy so well that both roleplayers and board game enthusiasts can’t get enough.

Mansions of Madness (2nd edition) and Eldritch Horror are both favorites at Twenty Sided Store that Nikki designed while working with Fantasy Flight Games. Mansions of Madness (similarly to XCOM, for which Valens designed the app) is driven by an app that acts as dungeon master.

Beyond her prowess as a game designer, Valens also describes herself as an “advocate for inclusivity in gaming” and creates games that reach out to otherwise marginalized groups. One of her latest games, Legacy of Dragonholt has been described as “setting the standard” for inclusivity in board games for its transgender representation.

(Bonus: One of Valens' last projects at Fantasy Flights Game is a Twenty Sided Store beloved favorite, Arkham Horror 3rd edition).

Special Mentions


Elizabeth Hargrave | Wingspan

Elizabeth Hargrave only has two games under her belt, but already Wingspan has become one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. A card game in the spirit of Terraforming Mars and Gizmos, Wingspan has you and your friends take on the role of bird enthusiasts cultivating a flourishing bird population in your nature preserve.

Hargrave and her all-female team of artists have created a game that has already sold out ahead of its first run. As one of the most requested games on our site, we hope to have Wingspan in stock in June. While we can’t call it a favorite (yet!) we’re excited to play!

Hargrave’s other game Tussie-Mussie won the 2018 Button Shy GenCan’t Design Contest.

Landlord’s Game

Elizabeth Magie | Landlord’s Game

In 1903, Elizabeth Magie created the Landlord’s Game. An ardent Georgist, she created the Landlord’s Game to demonstrate how capitalism enriched landlords and impoverished tenants.

Over the next few years The Landlord’s Game grew in popularity but was rejected by Parker Brothers for being “too complicated.” However, all through the Midwest, fans of the game shared her rules, created their own boards, and gave their versions nicknames.

One of these fans was Charles Darrow. In 1935, Darrow sold his version of the Landlord’s Game to Parker Brothers, who in the same year finally purchased the patent for Magie’s game that she had held for 32 years. She was given $500 dollars for it. The next year they dropped her game in favor of Darrow’s.

The name of Darrow’s game was Monopoly.

To date Monopoly has sold over 250 million copies and Charles Darrow is known as the first millionaire game designer, and Magie has largely been forgotten by history.

It’s a sad truth that Elizabeth Magie did not get to enjoy the success or reputation as the inventor of one of the world’s most beloved games. It was not until 1973, during a lawsuit against Parker Brothers, that her patents were uncovered and her story was told.

But now we honor her and her contribution to the world of board games. Play a game in her honor and tell her story - it’s never too late to give her the credit she so dearly deserves.

And what better day, than International Women’s Day.


Written by Johnni Medina

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