Celebrating The Hard Work Of Women In Gaming
The gaming industry has grown and expanded every year as new gamers find what is often a life-long hobby. Since its inception, men have dominated the gaming world, but women have carved themselves a well-deserved place in the industry.
Various organizations like PlayVS and Riot Games have established specific initiatives to create opportunities for women in esports. While women are often not in the position to advance initiatives like those created by PlayVs and Riot Games, the VALORANT league provides a good example of what can happen if women are able to hold senior-level positions in gaming. There are not nearly enough women in positions of power in gaming and esports. But the ones that are making the most of the privilege they have so that they can create and advance these sorts of initiatives to create a more inclusive environment. These are the women that are doing their best to ensure that other women can break into this male-dominated industry.
With March being Women’s Month, we wanted to highlight the hard work that the women at Google Play are doing to showcase the exceptional careers and the story of how they got into the industry. Their stories provide insight into their career progression, how they are positively impacting the industry, and provide a roadmap for other women on how to enter the gaming industry.
Google Play interviewed several senior-level directors, designers, and gaming developers about their careers and their experience as women in gaming in celebration of Women’s History Month. Their stories provide insight into their careers and how they are positively impacting the industry.
Stories of Success
Lauren Duke is the senior director of business development at Kabam, the studio behind the popular mobile game Marvel Contest of Champions. Being a woman in gaming has shaped her career and allows her to approach situations with an open mindset.
“Being a woman with an open mind and a commitment to growth has absolutely shaped my career in gaming. I’ve been the first to hold a new position and built partnerships from the ground up,” Duke said. “I’ve wondered whether I’m making the right choices and questioned whether I belong. And on more than one occasion, I’ve been the only woman in a crowded room. By approaching these situations with the mindset that I will learn and develop, and be the better for it, I’m reminded of why I love games. Games place us into unknown and unfamiliar environments, and we keep trying until we get it right. There’s no doubt that sometimes my career seems like an extraordinary game.”
Hay Day, another popular mobile title developed by Supercell, is the current home of game designer Camilla Avellar. Her perspective as a woman introduces unique insight that is not present in a room full of men. This also adds to diversity to the team and can help create a better product.
“Entertainment helps shape a person’s unique perspective, and a lot of the stuff I enjoyed growing up was targeted towards girls. This has allowed me to draw on different references and thought processes than many people who work in games,” Avellar said. “ I believe that having people from different backgrounds, genders, and mindsets – all with different ideas and experiences – can enrich a team and expand its horizon.”
Passion is Key
A common theme among the women interviewed was their desire to help create a product that positively impacts all who enjoy it. Nao Udagawa, the managing director of BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, enjoys helping create games that “bring smiles to fans worldwide.”
Other women like Canva engineer Karolina Pawlikowska always knew their passion. She pursued her dream despite being in a male-dominated environment. However, entering a male-dominated environment is not easy, especially in specific or niche roles. Pawlikowska discovered her passion for computers as a child. She loved sci-fi books and movies and always knew her future career would involve technology. Pawlikowska starting creating websites and web apps when she was 11. This carried over into her college career, where she studied computer science.
However, being a female programmer was tough, and Pawlikowska faced a lot of prejudice. This did not stop her from pursuing her passion. Programming took her around the world before she eventually landed in Sydney, where the headquarters for Canva is located.
The Inspiration Continues
Many of the interviewed women had a strong woman in their life that helped inspire or continue to inspire their passions. Lauren Luke explained that her mother had an “endless appreciation for the value of play.” This instilled the importance of games and play for Luke, which come in handy in her current occupation.
Camilla Avellar draws inspiration from Supercell lead and founder of Helsinki’s coding school, Drussila Hollanda. Hollanda is adamant about creating working environments that “encourage creativity, diversity, and safety.”
These successful women are now able to inspire and mentor a new generation of young women trying to break into the gaming industry. The gaming environment is still male-dominated. But women are slowly breaking the structural norms and improving the gaming landscape for everyone.