How Teachers and Students Made HerStory a Better Game

How Teachers and Students Made HerStory a Better Game

Underdog Games Underdog Games

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Our newest board game, HerStory, is unlike anything Underdog Games has created before, and we can't wait for you to get your hands on it. (It's coming to Amazon on November 1st.) In the meantime, we want to share what went into the making of this special game, so we reached out to Stacy Tornio, Underdog's head of content, for more insight.

Stacy selected and lead the team of writers, educators, and students who contributed to HerStory, and was involved with the game from its inception. She also played a major role in creating the game's awesome bonus materials, the modern-day HerStories, and so much more, as you'll see below.

What was your involvement with creating HerStory?

I’ve been helping out with HerStory since 2021. Early on, I interviewed customers and experts about what this game should (and shouldn’t) be. I also attended most of the early playtests for this game as the designers tried out different angles and approaches. My biggest involvement with HerStory was as the content director. I created a system for choosing the women who would be in the game, which included working with students and educational advisors along the way. I also led an amazing team of writers who wrote the information about each woman featured on the backs of the cards.

Why did you decide to work with a group of educational advisors?

From our very first customer interviews for this game, people would ask us, “How are you going to choose the women for the game?” Lots of people had lots of opinions about who to include. I knew we needed to come up with a team of experts, so I decided to use teachers and educators. (I used to work at WeAreTeachers and collaborated with many great educators there. Plus, I come from a long line of amazing teachers in my family.) I had no doubt teachers would be amazing at advising us, so we put out a call for those interested in the subject matter. Then we created guidelines for them to select the women. Finally, they did their own research and cast their votes.

How did you know you wanted to include student researchers?

It was really important for us to listen to young people and include their perspectives. After all, much of history is how you learned it, and let's face it—many of us have not had a lot of women-centered history in our teachings. We knew young people would offer great perspectives about the women chosen for the game, and they definitely did. The students created research slides for us, and we used that as we wrote the information for the game. We included lots of cool and interesting tidbits that we might not have otherwise because the students made us aware of them.

What women are you most excited to see featured in the game?

My favorite women in the game are the ones I didn’t know about before I started on this project. For instance, I didn’t know much about Patsy Mink, and she’s a total icon when it comes to Title IX! As a mom of a teenage girl who plays sports, I now love her. I’m also obsessed with Junko Tabei who was the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. She said what is now one of my favorite quotes, “I can't understand why men make all this fuss about Everest—it's only a mountain.”

What do you hope happens when kids and adults play this game?

I hope it brings them together and helps them see all these amazing women that many of us have never learned about. I played a lot of board games and card games when I was young, but I never had a game like this. It makes me so happy to think about kids (and especially little girls) playing this game and seeing these remarkable, fascinating, diverse women and then reading about all the incredible ways they contributed to the world.

Why is this game important or different from others?

This game is special, and you can see it right away when you first look at the cover. Not only does it feature all women, which is unique in and of itself, but it also shares their stories. There are some great women-centric games on the market today—go check them out, like Bold Made and Who’s She. We tried to take it one step further by including cool facts and information about them. (By the way, we also have Bonus Materials for every single woman. You can get 120 posters about the women, as well as coloring pages and a biography kit on our site here.) 

What’s something you learned while working on this game?

I learned so much about so many women, but one of my favorites is Sacagawea. You think of her as this iconic woman who helped explorers, and she did. But there’s so much more to her than that. Also, the date of her death is a huge controversy among historians. Some even believe she left (or even snuck off) to go back home to Wyoming where she lived out her life. Here’s an example of this theory. No matter what you believe, it just goes to show that there’s a lot more to these women than we realize.

Was this game created by mostly women?

By my recent count, we had more than 20 women work on this game. This includes the 12 women advisors, a female game designer, multiple women illustrators and graphic designers, and many writers. So yes, a lot of women were involved in this game. But we’re proud of the fact that many men worked on it as well. We had some incredible male colleagues and experts who took this game on with great care. You can learn about them and the entire team right here.

Take another look behind the scenes of the making of HerStory, with this interview with Nick Bentley, president of Underdog Studios. LINK

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