Gender Balance in Carcassonne: About as Good as it Gets

Gender Balance in Carcassonne: About as Good as it Gets

There’s something weird about the Android and Windows versions of the city-building board game Carcassonne: they feature a precisely equal number of apparently male and female playable characters.

Perhaps that shouldn’t be remarkable, but, well, it kinda is. Carcassonne’s characters are used as both user avatars and computer opponents, so they either have their own personalities or reflect the player’s. Representations of women in video games, when they exist at all, tend to be sexualized and unrealistic.

Since Carcassonne is the creation of our more enlightened cousins in Europe, it should be able to avoid those tropes.


1. Gregory


Gregory is a god-fearing, if somewhat simple-minded monk.

Aw, Gregory. You’re dumb with a heart of gold. No one with mutton chops like that could make me angry, even if you defeat me, which you can’t, because you have one little star.

2. Nathalie


Good Sister Nathalie would like to become abbess, replacing the current abbess.

Nathalie is … extremely pointy. Her ambition is not exactly surprising, given her current job, but she knows what she wants and is willing to shove aside her superiors to get it. Bravo.

3. Tibertius


Holier-than-thou, cunning, and clever – the Reverend keeps a tight reign on his flock.

Hah! Reign! I get it! Tiburtius here is a triple threat: religious authority, political mastermind, and ruthless shepherd. Or he just used the wrong “rein”.

4. Marquardt


The third son of an impoverished aristocrat, he is hopeless with a lance.

Although no familial relationship to Nathalie is disclosed, the resemblance is undeniable. She was smart enough to go into a line of work requiring a habit; he should probably find a helmet that hides those ears.

5. Harald


Harald is a devious and dangerous opponent – both on the road and in the forest.

Devious? Dangerous? Okay, but judging from his skill level any threat Harald poses comes from him failing to keep an adequate grip on his sword.

6. Helena


Most men just mock her – until she unhorses them in a joust.

Then they charge you with witchcraft and burn you. Sorry Helena, it’s the Middle Ages, let’s be real.

7. Caroline


The young girl ran away from home and now masquerades as a robber baron.

So she pretends to charge exorbitant road tolls? Or she does charge them by pretending to own the roads? Or she just goes to costume parties dressed as an American industrialist from the future?

8. Count


A hard-bitten warhorse who has been supplementing his income with highway robbery for years.

Yeah, this is not someone I’d want to run into on a dark path. Or a well-lit path. But he seems to have a day job, just not one that can satisfy his doubtlessly elegant tastes.

9. Countess


Many years passed before it became known that this famous robber baron was actually a woman.

What, the name wasn’t a giveaway? Did they think Count was gay and this was some complicated double fakeout so they could acquire a marriage license? Do horrendous Gypsy caricatures of all genders wear earrings?

10. Margot


Simple-minded Margot is just like her sheep – lovable, but stupid.

Okay now. Yes, sheep are very dim, but poor Margot is doing the best she can. She has twice the stars of Gregory but gets tarred with the same “simple-minded” brush.

11. Lisa


Lisa has a lot of free time while herding her flock, and she likes to spend it with the local boys.

Oh. Oh no. Carcassonne, you really were doing okay until you bought this Little Bo Peep from the Halloween pop-up shop. Did they even have mascara 800 years ago?

12. Godfrey


Appearing weak-minded at first glance, Godfrey is actually the most talented farmer under the sun.

Godfrey doesn’t appear weak-minded. Godfrey appears hunchbacked. Which anyone carrying such a massive, glorious beard around would be. I suppose if he were a bit more strong-minded he would shave occasionally and salvage his spine, but it’s all part of his dastardly ruse.

Character images, descriptions, and wooden background captured from Carcassonne game for Android.

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