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Influential Women in the Gaming Industry: Brianna Wu

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brianna gamer

Brianna Wu is a game developer. She is also the head of Giant Spacekat which is a female lead gaming development team. She is also often a speaker on the subject of women in the tech industry.

Brianna found a love of technology early in her life. This would serve her well as that love helped her to pave her own way. She was adopted into a conservative family that she would not always feel like she belonged in. Learning to program and work on computers are some of her happiest memories as a child. Thankfully her family supported her in her love of technology and provided her with resources that have helped her to become a successful woman in the field of gaming.

That support helped her to start her first business as a teenager. From her parents’ garage she would modify cars and computers. By the time she was in college, she had saved up a nice nest egg, which enabled her to leave the program she was not happy in. Brianna went through many changes and challenges that helped her find her own views and voice in the world during this time. This journey would help her discover what she wanted out of life, and gaming.

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Brianna started Giant Spacekat in 2010. The company was not started with a strong feminist stance in mind. Brianna simply wanted to make things that she liked and wanted to see in games. It turns out that what she wanted was a more inclusive gaming space. This tone led to Revolution 60, the first game from Giant Spacekat, that featured all female operatives and strong feminist overtones in the game.

As she spoke with more women in the gaming industry, Brianna found that many of them were having similar experiences to herself. This led her to changing the culture of her studio. It also led Brianna to taking on more speaking appearances and writing about women in the gaming industry.

Brianna Wu is an example of how life takes us on paths we may not expect. Everything is a learning experience and we are meant to grow on this journey we call life.

Always keep sparkling!

 

Guest Post: The Number of Female Gamers is Rising, Studies Show, so What’s the Problem?

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Gaming research studies for several years have been dealing major blows to the stereotypical view of the typical gamer as a white guy in his mom’s basement. In 2014, a paper by the Internet Advertising Bureau showed that a shocking 52 percent of the total gaming audience is actually women. It indicated a rise from the 49 percent in 2012. By 2017, the most recent research shows that this number had risen to an incredible 65 percent. The 2017 Google Play and Newzoo study revealed that women are now more than half of the gamer population.

The rising number of female gamers should be a positive sign for women in gaming, who have been long marginalized, discriminated against, and openly harassed by fellow male gamers. The million-dollar question now is, is it really? While women are boosting the multibillion-dollar gaming industry, largely by playing various mobile games, the sector is still struggling to accommodate female gamers. Many women gamers, it turns out, largely feel underrepresented in the gaming sector. Let’s consider some of the contributing reasons:

Persistent Stigma
Female gamers may have the numbers on their side, but the general attitudes in the industry largely stigmatize them. Veteran female gamers complain of bias female gamers still have to face. The stigma can be pervasive enough to drive women to pretend to be men when playing. Researchers have noted that a considerable number of female gamers do not disclose their gender because of fear of being alienated by male players. The “gamergate” scandal brought to light the level of misogyny hardcore female gamers have to face. There are also more subtle hints of misogyny indicated in surveys. Another Google Play survey found that male gamers are more likely to spend time playing with others if they know those other players are also male.

Lack of Female Game Developers
While the female percentage in the player sector is on the rise, the same is not true for women game developers, designers, or creators. Women players may be owning it in mobile games or building their own gaming PCs, but according to the International Game Developers Association, only less than 30 percent of developers in the gaming industry are either female or transgender. This affects how women are depicted in games, obviously. The traditional mold of the female characters in games being over-exaggerated sex symbols is still prominent, which discourages female gamers from trying out some of the top ranking titles. It should be noted though that some activist developers are trying to include more diverse and wholesome female characters in games.

Male Toons are Still Prominent
Women are getting into the gaming scene largely thanks to the rise of gaming apps. Women of all ages and from nearly all walks of life can play games while on the move. Some women, like new mothers, report that mobile gaming is a pleasant distraction. Naturally, these female gamers prefer to adopt female avatars and toons for in-game experiences. However, a majority of games still feature male personas rather than female ones. Google found out that the 44 percent of game app icons on Google
Play feature male faces rather than female ones, despite the majority of women consuming these products. A survey found that over 60 percent of female gamers think no more than one-third of mobile games are made for women.

The fact that the number of female gamers is on the rise should be a pleasant and welcoming development for aspiring female gamers and developers everywhere. But as the points above indicate, gender parity is still far from reality in gaming. Hopefully in the future, with more female gamers and developers, these unequal factors may change for the better.

Written By: Tracy Plunkett, Kiwi writer with a love for gadgets, games, and music. I also have an unhealthy obsession with cats.

Influental Women in the Gaming Industry: Jessica Chobot

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Jessica Chobot gained exposure in the gaming world when a picture of her licking a Sony PSP surfaced in 2005. That photo has been parodied heavily since and has been attempted by many as an example of the “fake gamer girl” stereotype. Little did anyone know what Chobot would acomplish. Instead of letting that break her. Chobot used it to fuel her career. Since, she has worked for IGN, become a writer, a voice actress for games, and also works for the Nerdist.

There is always a risk of being mocked when a person is un-apologetically excited and open about loving “geeky” things. For women, it is even more so. That is why it is important to share the stories of people who have taken that passion and turned it into a career.

Chobot was hired by IGN full time in 2006. She quickly won over fans with her fun personality and knowledge of video games. As her popularity grew so did her role in IGN. Chobot was able to foray into The Daily Fix, IGN Strategize and IGN GameBreaks for FOX Television.

nerdist-jessicaChobot has been able to traveled for IGN and represent them in multiple forums. She has also gotten to write for; FHM UK, Mania.com and MAXIM print. She has also appeared on many shows such as but not limited to; Attack of the Show, ABC World News, EXTRA!, FOX News Live and CBS News as an industry expert. Chobot has been a weekly commentator on multiple radio shows and has also had guest star appearances on the Syfy channel’s Sci vs Fi.  The Nerdist also currently benefits from Chobot adding her talents to their roster.

Chobot is a very passionate fan of anime. She has been able to use her fame to appear on commercials for ADV’s Anime Network. Chobot continues to find new forums to live her passions. She has also gotten to show her love of gaming by guest staring on Geek and Sundry, including a one shot D&D game with Vin Diesel.  

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Jessica Chobot has shown how important it is to geek out and follow your passion. If you work hard and let your personality shine you will be able to achieve anything you set your mind to. 

Always keep sparkling! 

Top 10 Female Magic: The Gathering Players

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So, I was asked to come up with a list of Top 10 Female Magic: the Gathering players. It seems that some people are still living with the (stupid) idea that women can’t play M:tG for whatever reasons they can come up with. While it has admittedly been a long time since a woman won a major tournament (Eda Bilsel of Turkey in 2003 became M:tG’s first National Champion), there are quite a few that place within the top 8 of Grand Prix’s, and the Star City Open series. Go to any Pro Tour Qualifier (PPTQ), Grand Prix, or other tournament around the world and you will find women and girls of all ages competing.

The current youngest player at Grand Prix to ever qualify for day 2 is 12-years-old and held by a boy; however, this is being threatened by 6-year-old Dana Fisher who, at her last GP, missed qualifying by 1 win. A 6-year-old girl is out playing most of the men 2 or 3 times her age, and is getting better each time she competes. If she can keep up the trend, then in just a few years she will be making top 8’s and pushing for the big win.  So, in no particular order here, is my list of 10 Female M:tG players to watch for or just to watch as some are also streamers.

1. Dana Fisher

2. Emma Handy

3. Gaby Spartz

twitch.tv/gabyspartz

4. Jennifer Long

twitch.tv/mrs_mulligan

5. Melissa DeTora

6. Magic The Amateuring

teitch.tv/magictheamateuring (Also have a Podcast)

7. Feline Longmore

8. Athena Huey

twitch.tw/elantris

9. Jackie Lee*

10. Tifa Robles**

I have been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994 and can say I have lost more than my fair share of matches to women who played better than me. I expect it to happen again in the future as I keep going to tournaments. I look forward to it as Magic: The Gathering is something that everyone can and should enjoy to play.

*Melissa DeTora and Jackie Lee both now work for Wizards of the Coast. Jackie helped design some of the current sets, and Melissa is part of a new playtest team.

**Tifa Robles founded the Lady Planeswalkers to help get more women interested in playing Magic: The Gathering http://ladyplaneswalkers.weebly.com/

 

Influential Women in the Gaming Industry- Kate Edwards

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In 2012, the International Game Developers Association needed a new director. Thankfully IGDA choose Kate Edwards. Really, it wasn’t a hard choice to elect Kate Edwards. She is a talented and intelligent person who uses her unique perspective to problem solve.

Kate Edwards really is an amazing brain. She is an applied geographer, writer, and content culturalization strategist. Kate’s background includes geography, cartography and geopolitics. She has traveled extensively which has given her wonderful perspective. All of this education and experience are tools that Kate successfully uses.

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After taking on the mantle of Director of IGDA Kate used her power in the best way. For the betterment of those who didn’t have a voice in the industry. She forayed her raining and talents to help tackle some very difficult problems for the network of the world’s game developers. Kate took a firm stand about Gamergate and sexism in the gaming industry. She also was outspoken about the topics of diversity and unpaid “crunch” time

Kate resigned as Director of the IGDA in 2017. She stated; “I felt it’s time for me to move on. When I first took the IGDA role, I told the board that this is likely a three- to five-year mission for me, and here I am nearly at five years. My top goals were to reinvigorate the IGDA’s relevance, reinstate the IGDA’s core mission as an advocacy org and voice for game developers (not companies), and to emphasize the ‘I’ part of the IGDA and strengthen our international presence.” Kate believed that after five years it was time for someone with a different skill set to help IGDA continue to move forward.

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In short Kate Edwards has made our world a little better place through her hard work at IGDA. She took an unflinching stand against injustice. She made the road a little easier for those in the gaming industry moving forward. Kate has shown us that by being brave and hard working you can make a change in the gaming industry. She has also had a good time doing it in cosplay.

Always keep sparkling!

Influental Women in the Gaming Industry Satine Phoenix

satine Satine Phoenix is a true force in the gaming industry. She has been using her fame to promote gaming. Satine has also helped force people to rethink stereotypes about the gamers who play Dungeons and Dragons and how.  

Satine is not what the media portrays a gamer to be and that is important. Too many times we have seen the same depiction of Dungeons and Dragons players. A group of mostly white boys in their mom’s basement. However that isn’t even what most of us gamers in the community are anymore. We are of many races, genders and playing styles. We livestream; play in gaming stores, play on our computers, we gather wherever we can and yes sometimes that is in our parents basements. Satine knows that the perception of gaming needs to change with us.

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Satine has worked in both the porn and fetish industries. There she gained confidence in herself. She also met many different people and found that many of them are huge nerds. Together they would read the same books and game together. Satine decided to use her fame to broaden the spectrum of what a gamer is.

Satine and her friends have made calendars featuring different geeky women. She has used her gifts to draw female monsters. She animates videos. She plays Dungeons and Dragons with all kinds of gamers. In 2010 she started a web series called I Hit It With My Axe.  There she gathered women of all different backgrounds; many some of whom were porn stars, strippers models and a hairdresser, to play Dungeons and Dragons.

satine dance Satine has been also become a big part of Geek and Sundry There she has been spreading the good news about Dungeons and Dragons. She has gamed for charity. Satine has also has an awesome series where she gives Game Masters different tips. She has gotten the opportunity to play games with Wil Wheaton on Tabletop.  

In short Satine Phoenix is a talented, hardworking and giving member of the gaming community. She seeks out nerds and gives them a spotlight. Satine reminds us that it is cool to be different. We should seek out what makes us happy and then share that with the world. She is helping us break Dungeons and Dragons out of the basement and into the mainstream where is belongs.

Always keep sparkling! 

A New Generation of Women in Gaming and Film

Wonder Woman’s success at the box office is a sign that the portrayal of women in the media is improving. This film showed the world that female superhero films can be on par with any other blockbuster within the genre. And it’s not just in terms of revenue, but also on audience impact. Like Soliyra shared in a previous RWOG post, she was floored when she realized Diana is the same as her gamer persona – a long-time “tank” player who would rush into battle and absorb all the damage. It’s a far cry from a decade ago when women were stereotyped as either damsel in distress or nurturing lovers.

18673115_1499705770082033_9026401747109957452_o(image credit: Injustice Facebook Page)

Usually, superhero movie releases are accompanied by big-budget video games featuring the same hero. Unfortunately, the gaming community is still waiting for a Wonder Woman-centered video game but fans can at least enjoy playing Diana Prince in other big titles like Injustice 2. There are also projects from non-AAA game developers who have been inspired by the character. For instance, the global player base of Slingo has access to a mobile-friendly Wonder Woman slot game that has borrowed elements from Lynda Carter’s version the character. All of this goes to show how the Amazon princess remains relevant even decades after her first appearance in comic books and TV.

But Patty Jenkins and the new Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, are just two of the women who are making waves on the big screen today. Charlize Theron, for instance, showed that she still has what it takes to be an action star in the spy thriller Atomic Blonde. She played a top-level MI6 operative on the hunt for double-agents in this flick, so there were heavily stylized and well-choreographed fight scenes.

Theron has long been an advocate of women’s rights, and she’s vocal in her support for women in the industry. She’s actually friends with Jenkins due to their collaboration in Monster and the latter expressed on ComicBook how much she looks forward to working with Theron again.

On the other hand, Warner Bros.’ trailer for the upcoming Tomb Raider film shows Alicia Vikander portraying a different Lara Croft, in the sense that the character is not yet the badass explorer like Angelina Jolie’s version. It’s necessary so as to stay true to the ‘origin story’ angle. But still, Vikander’s Lara is fierce and willing to go beyond her limits.


(video credit: Warner Bros.)

The video game industry meanwhile, has already gone far in portraying strong female characters. We have Samus Aran (Metroid), and Max Caulfield (Life is Strange), to name a few. But like Wonder Woman, new female leads are generating a lot of buzz this year.

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Guerrilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn piqued many players’ interests back in 2015 when its first trailer featured the female protagonist, Aloy, battling a gigantic machine with a bow. CBR noted how the character played a big role in becoming a system seller. Since Horizon: Zero Dawn is a PlayStation 4 exclusive, it became a selling point for Sony. The decision to promote a female-led original game clearly worked because the game already sold 2.6 million units just two weeks following its release earlier this year. Some gamers even went as far as to buy the console just to play the action RPG title.

Blizzard’s popular online multiplayer game Overwatch also surprised fans when it announced that one of its characters, namely Tracer, is a lesbian. Tracer is a fan favorite, so it was a huge statement for Blizzard to present her as having an unorthodox sexuality. The move drew ire from some players, but the majority praised the studio’s initiative to diversify the world of gaming.

All things considered, onscreen female characters are now becoming more layered and varied. While there are still a lot of improvements to be made regarding our portrayal, it’s safe to say that the world openly welcomes this new generation of women in gaming and film.

About the Author: Alexa Henderson is a freelance writer and avid fan of RPGs. Her favorite game of all time is Squaresoft’s Chrono Cross.