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Women Who Are Changing The Gaming Industry

Image Credit: *gameHERS awards | Shanghai Dragons | Twitter | Netflix (edited by GGRecon)

Written by 

Emma Hill

Posted 

17th Nov 2021 13:15

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"Girls don't do video games". I wholeheartedly wish this was a mindset that has long since disappeared but, sadly, no. Here we are in 2021 and this is a stereotype that women in the video game industry are still having to face on a day-to-day basis. However, these trail-blazers haven't let the hate get in their way of doing what they love and we've been blessed with some cracking games as a result. 

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Back in October, I wrote an article about how LEGO had promised to stop producing 'sexist' games after conducting a study as part of the UN’s International Day of the Girl. I was so shocked by the statistics that the results have continued to stay with me. The study claimed: "71% of boys vs. 42% of girls say they worry about being made fun of if they play with a toy typically associated for the other gender." Not only that, but the report revealed that out of all its 7,000 participants, 71% of the parents who took part in the study said they would encourage boys to engage with coding games more than girls. Along with this, parents were "four times more likely" to push boys over girls to play program games or sports. I was, also, shocked with how many articles reporting the news didn't mention these stats. 

In the leadup to the *gameHERs awards on November 18, lets celebrate the women who are helping change the future for games and paving the way for many upcoming femme-identifying players to come. Expect to see some of the most famous and unsung female creatives who are involved with video games, whether they're a developer, performer, or pro-gamer. I wish I could name every single one, but we could be here for days. So, just to keep things fairly brisk, here's a list, in alphabetical order, of some of the women who are creating waves in the gaming industry.

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Tina Amini

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A post shared by Tina Amini (@_tinaamini)

As a fellow female video game journalist, it's incredibly inspiring to see a woman excelling in a male-dominated field and paving the way for the rest of us. This is certainly the case for IGN's Editor-In-Chief, Tina Amini. Before IGN, Amini worked at Complex Magazine, Kotaku, and Mashable. Throughout her career, Amini has written an abundance of articles ranging from Lara Croft to Red Dead Redemption. By working up the ranks to the EIC of Games at IGN, Amini is now at the head of one of the biggest video game news websites in the world and providing exclusive content to millions of players. As a fan of Psychonauts 2, chances are she was very excited to hear the nominees for the upcoming Game Awards

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Laura Bailey

Have you ever played any game ever? Yep, chances are Laura Bailey was in it. The amount of big titles that Bailey has provided the mo-cap or voice-over for (or both) is mind-blowing. To name a few, they include: Skyrim, Halo 4, Mass Effect 3, Marvel's Spider-Man, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Call of Duty: Vanguard, and The Last Of Us franchise. For her performance in The Last Of Us Part II, Bailey won the BAFTA Award for Best Performer in a Leading Role and the award for Best Performance at the Game Awards in 2020. Female video-game characters have a reputation for being poorly written and one-dimension. However, the combined efforts of game writers, directors, and performers like Bailey, is helping bring to light trailblazing female characters who are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Let's hope Bailey could be making a cameo in the highly-anticipated Last Of Us TV series

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Danielle Bunten Berry

Danielle Bunten Berry
Image Credit: CBC Arts

It's safe to say that there are entire big-name game franchises out there which owe their existence to Danielle Bunten Berry. As one of many pioneering trans-women in the industry, Bunten went on to help revolutionise multiplayer gaming as a designer and programmer with the the iconic 80's strategy game M.U.L.E. After going on to design The Seven Cities of Gold, Command HQ, and Global Conquest, Bunten was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Computer Game Developers Association. Sadly, Bunten passed away in 1998, but her legacy lives on. Not only has Bunten gone on to inspire a whole host of queer game developers but Will Wright dedicated The Sims to her memory and in 2007 she was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences' Hall Of Fame. 

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Laura Deutsch, Rebecca Dixon, Verta Maloney, and Heather Ouida

Laura Deutsch, Rebecca Dixon, Verta Maloney, and Heather Ouida
Image Credit: The *gameHERS

The *gameHERS awards arrived with a bang back in November 2020, "dedicated to amplifying and centering the voices of women, femme-identifying gamers and non-binary gamers who are comfortable in spaces that center women." Co-founders Laura Deutsch, Rebecca Dixon, Verta Maloney, Heather Ouida, and the rest of the *gameHERS team, have helped to break the boundaries of gender stereotypes to celebrate femme-identifying gamers and industry professionals. The categories featured in the awards include 'Up and Coming Pro Player', 'Sound Designer of the Year', and 'Advocate of the Year'. 

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Rebecca Heineman

Rebecca Heineman
Image Credit: Netflix

Long-time gaming industry veteran and revolutionary Rebecca Heineman has a number of classic titles to her name like Crystal Quest, DOOM, and Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. Along with her wife, fellow game designer Jennell Jaquays, Heineman is one of the most successful trans-women in the industry. Heineman has been one of the founding members of various game companies including Interplay Productions, Logicware, Contraband Entertainment, and Olde Sküül, which Jaquays, also, co-found. Heineman is, also, part of the advisory board for the Video Game History Museum and is part of the board of directors of LGBTQ+ organisation GLAAD. Then, in 2017, she became an inductee for the International Video Game Hall of Fame. 

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Amy Hennig 

You couldn't possibly have a list of pioneering women in the gaming industry without including the legend that is Amy Hennig. Being a dab-hand in various areas of game development, Hennig has worked as an artist, animator, director, producer, and writer for a number of huge game titles. In her career, Bennig has been employed by Crystal Dynamics and Naughty Dog, along with Visceral Games and EA. For many fans, Hennig will always be remembered as the head writer and creative director for the Uncharted game franchise. In 2019, Henning left Naughty Dog to start her new job as President of New Media with Skydance Media where she is currently working on an, as of yet, unannounced Marvel game. Although, our bet is that it could be the Fantastic Four game

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Keisha Howard

Back in 2009, Keisha Howard, was on a mission to find women who had similar geeky interests to her. The result was the formation of Sugar Gamers, an inclusive tech community designed to encourage women and underrepresented groups to come together in a supportive and respectful space. Howard balances her work at Sugar Gamers with working as an advisor at production company, LiveCGI, which creates custom AR avatars for live events. To add to her huge list of ongoing projects, Howard, also, founded digital marketing agency The Blaze Breakers and has hosted a number of Ted Talks, inspiring others by using her own career experiences.

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Professor Robin Hunicke

Professor Robin Hunicke
Image Credit: Robin Hunicke | UC Santa Cruz

The Sims fans out there should be familiar with the name of game designer and producer, Robin Hunicke. Beginning her career EA at Maxis, Hunicke worked as a designer for The Sims 2 expansion pack, Open For Business. Later, she became the lead designer for MySims on the Nintendo Wii and then a producer for both Boom Blox and its sequel, Boom Blox: Bash Party. After working for thatgamecompany and Tiny Speck, Hunicke co-found game developer Funomena, with the studios most recent game being Wattam. Alongside her work as a game developer and her promotion of indie games, she works as a Professor of Art and Design: Games and Playable Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

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Se-yeon ‘Geguri’ Kim

Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim
Image Credit: Shanghai Dragons

Next time you're playing Overwatch, make sure to keep an eye out for pro-gamer Se-yeon "Geguri" Kim because chances are she will take you down. If you're a fan of the Overwatch League, you may well recognise Geguri as she was the focus of a cheating scandal in 2016. The incredible precision of her computer mouse skills caused her competitors to accuse her of using aim assist software. However, in a truly badass move, Geguri proved her ability in a monitored studio and proved her accusers wrong. Then, in 2018 she joined the professional esports team, the Shanghai Dragons, and became the first female player in the Overwatch League. As a result, in 2019, Time named Kim one of its "Next Generation Leaders" for being one of the first successful female esports players. 

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Eímear Noone

Eimear Noone
Image Credit: Twitter | Belfast International Arts Festival

If you've ever traipsed around the Koprulu sector or helped Link on his travels through Hyrule, then chances are you have heard the moving melodies of award-winning film and video game composer of Eímear Noone. Based in Dublin, Noone has written or conducted the music for a whole host of big name game titles, such as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Overwatch, and World Of WarcraftFilm buffs out there may also recognise Noone from the Oscars in 2020, when she made history by becoming the first ever female conductor to perform at the Academy Awards. Thanks to her work with World Of Warcraft, Noone's music has reached the ears of over 100 million players and she won the award for "Best Video Game Score" for World of WarCraft: Warlords of Draenor in 2014 at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. 

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Jade Raymond

Next time you're having a game of Assassin's Creed, make sure to tip your Mercenary Hat to Jade Raymond. Starting out as a programmer for Sony, Raymond went on to work at EA, where she worked on The Sims Online, and The Electric Playground. Following her move to Ubisoft Montreal, Raymond co-developed and produced the hugely successful Assassins Creed, which would spawn one of the highest selling video game franchises of all time. Raymond continued to add an impressive number of titles to her name including, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Far Cry 4, and Star Wars: Battlefront II, after she moved back to EA. In 2021, Raymond founded her own studio, Haven Entertainment Studios, which has been backed by Sony and PlayStation.

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Kim Swift

Kim Swift
Image Credit: Kim Swift | Electronic Arts

Where, oh where, would we be without GLaDOS, one of the best video game villains of all time? Well, thanks to Kim Swift, lead designer on Portal, we never have to ponder that question. While working at Valve, Swift helped develop the Left For Dead franchise and both Half-Life 2 episodes. In June, 2021, Xbox announced on Twitter that Swift was joining its publishing team as design director "to accelerate our Innovation and collaborate with independent studios to build games for the cloud". Swift started her career at DigiPen, where she and other grad students developed the portal-based game Narbacular Drop, which would later become the critically-acclaimed Portal. Valve was impressed, offered the team a job, and the rest is history. 

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Lisette Titre-Montgomery

Lisette Titre-Montgomery
Image Credit: CNN | Twitter | Lisette Titre-Montgomery

Art director Lisette Titre-Montgomery is well and truly breaking barriers for women in the gaming industry. After watching Toy Story as a child, Titre-Montgomery was inspired to work in computer animation and has gone on to build a hugely successful career in the field. Not only has she been part of the creative team behind Dance Central 3 and The Sims 4, but before that she helped develop games such as The Simpsons Game, The Godfather II, and Dante's Inferno. Titre-Montgomery has, also, been incredibly active in promoting diversity within the gaming industry by working alongside groups like Black Girls Code and Girls Who Code. As well as this, Titre-Montgomery was invited to the 2016 White House LGBTQ Tech and Innovation briefing.

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Women are a vital part of helping make the industry a more inclusive place for everyone. There is still a long way to go. But, for any readers out there who feel like the gaming industry isn't for people like you, it is. It is for everyone. These trailblazers in the field, past and present, are helping to make it so. By breaking down the gender boundaries these women are helping all players feel authentically represented and that their voices are being heard. 

Make sure to have a watch of the *gameHERS awards on November 18, 2021 from 7 P.M. (EST) here

 

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Farming Simulator 22 Review: "An Authentic But Frustrating Experience"

Images: Giants Software

Written by 

Emma Hill

Posted 

23rd Nov 2021 15:24

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