Today is International Women’s Day and in keeping with the theme of this website while also celebrating women, I have compiled a list of women within the video game industry who I find to be awesome and inspiring. The video game industry is a hard industry for anyone to get into; it’s not enough to be a good writer, voice actor or even know how to fully make a video game. You have to put something together that means something to you or that people want to read/play and if you are really good at your craft you can accomplish both at the same time.
This industry, though, is especially hard for women to get into. Females have a more difficult time entering into tech industries and professions in general and the video game industry is no different. It doesn’t help that hate groups as well as a plethora of hate-filled individuals have demolished the careers of many women within the industry while scaring others away from even bothering to try to join in.
These women, along with many others, have stood in the face of adversity and remained strong, for that alone I want to thank them. I’d like to take some time to honor them as well as explain a bit about how they have influenced me and the world of gaming as a whole. Many women in the gaming industry deserve recognition for their hard work and dedication to improving the world video games, these are simply the women who I find personally influential.
Rhianna Pratchett – www.rhiannapratchett.com
Pratchett is an award winning writer of video games as well as an accomplished author. Her most notable works include Mirror’s Edge, Heavenly Sword, Prince of Persia (2008) and the recently rebooted Tomb Raider. Before becoming a script writer and narrative designer for video games she wrote articles for publications such as PC Zone and The Guardian. She has also contributed to novels as well as authored the new Tomb Raider: The Beginning comics. Pratchett is someone who I find particularly inspirational as I would like to follow in her footsteps and one day move on from article writing and into writing for video games. She’s smart, talented and from what I have seen of her in interviews and interactions on Twitter she’s also a very kind person. I look up to her work as something I would like to achieve at one point in my life, if I could get into the industry and write half as well as she does I would call it a personal success.
Brianna Wu – @Spacekatgal
Wu is head of development at her game studio called Giant Spacekat. She has also authored various articles related to the world of gaming and has more recently been a major target of GamerGate, a conflicted group of gamers – half of which support the push for ethics and integrity in gaming journalism while the other half operates as a hate group aimed at women and feminists within the gaming industry. One of the things I appreciate most about Wu is her ability to stand up to GamerGate, a feat which has garnered her a whooping 48 severe death threats in the past 6 months as well as being forced to leave her home due to these threats. I see her fighting the good fight daily on Twitter and have nothing but admiration for her work as a developer, a woman in tech and for her strength of characters. When others, myself included, stepped aside and even quit their jobs in the tech industry thanks to GamerGate, Wu stood up for herself and others facing unnecessary harassment, showing me that I too can make a stand and not let these people turn me away from writing with their harassment. I applaud her efforts for women in tech and hope she’s sees more success in the development world in the future.
(More on her story can be found in these links: Brianna Wu makes stand at PAX East, No skin thick enough: The daily harassment of women in the game industry, I’m Brianna Wu, And I’m Risking My Life Standing Up To Gamergate)
Anita Sarkeesian – www.feministfrequency.com
Sarkeesian is a feminist and a video game critic who aims to point out sexism found in video games as well as other forms of media. She makes YouTube videos in which she analyses specific harmful tropes that are harmful to women, titled Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games, in an attempt to see change within the industry, promoting positivity for women. Sarkeesian, much like Brianna Wu, has also become a large target of GamerGate, receiving various graphic death threats and general hate on a daily basis. She was also forced to leave her home at one point due to severe threats. This hasn’t stopped her from continuing to do her work and that is one of the things I appreciate most about her. She doesn’t give up and hasn’t let the hate stop her from making these important videos. I admire her work as well and am I big fan of her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series, though I can’t say I agree 100% with everything she says (though really who agrees 100% with what anyone says all the time?). I look up to her for her intelligence and strength and I look forward to seeing more from her in the future.
(Find my personal analyses of her video series here)
Jessica Chobot – @JessicaChobot
Chobot is a gamer, a host on Nerdist.com, and has even writer her own video game – Daylight. She’s a talented person with a great personality and an affinity for all things nerdy. I had the pleasure of sitting through a panel that she was on during PAX Prime in 2014 that was all about adversity against women in the video game industry and how to survive it and thrive through it. She, along with a host of other awesome women, had some really intelligent and encouraging things to say about the subject. The things they said really helped me out as that was right around when GamerGate began and I questioned whether or not I wanted to continue down this path. On top of that I also liked Daylight, though it probably didn’t seem that way if you read my review. She seems like a really fun, down-to-earth person and I’ll never forget the encouragement she shared when I saw her panel, it’s helped keep me writing regardless of how cruel and misogynistic people can be.
These women, and plenty of others, have had an impact on my life and have helped me build up confidence in my chosen career path. They keep me fighting, they keep me strong and their talent within the industry is a force to be reckoned with. I’d like to encourage you all to share a little about the women in the industry whose efforts and creations you appreciate. Let’s celebrate these women in honor of International Women’s Day and let it be known hoe much we appreciate their work.