Whether it’s through entrepreneurship or competing in games professionally, these women are breaking the mold and showing the world that gaming is for everyone.
The gaming industry has been dominated by males for years, but that’s finally changing. Female gamers are now just as prominent in the industry as male gamers, and they’re not afraid to take what belongs to them. Within the Asian gaming population, almost 40 to 45% of them are women. According to statistics reported in InMobi’s Mobile Gaming India report 2021, women make up 43% of the entire mobile gaming audience. It’s refreshing to see females breaking through and making their mark in the gaming world.
From developing new and innovative games to running successful game studios, these badass women are proving that they can compete and thrive in one of the most competitive industries out there. In this article, we will explore five of the most influential women in gaming history.
1. Vickie Chen and Ping Wang
Ping Wang and Vickie Yanjuan Chen founded AviaGames in 2017. The gaming startup aims to create a top, inclusive game competition platform for everyone around the world to compete with real players. “The majority of competitive games today cater to male audiences and core gamers, and almost all casual games on the market are designed for players to play against AI,” expounded Chen.
In 2019, they founded their gaming platform Pocket7Games, which matches players to compete with each other according to their skill sets instead of their gender or gaming experience. Since its launch, Pocket7Games has grown to be popular globally. They offer more than ten different types of games, such as casino, maths, cards and puzzles. The platform offers both free and cash tournaments (that require a subscription) where players can earn cash prizes.
With 18 months after its launch, Pocket7Games has topped the rank of free casino games in Apple App Store with is “Bingo Clash” for four months. It has hosted more than 100 million tournaments every month and given out US$400 million in prize money in the United States. Last year, the company announced the raising of US$40 million to diversify mobile skill-based gaming.
2. Renuka Jallapuram
Renuka Jallapuram is the CEO of Flying Caps Applied Sciences and has over ten years of experience in the IT and gaming industries. Jallapuram began her career as a software engineer before switching to mobile gaming with her spouse. Their goal is to create engaging video games that would be played by people all over the world.
Her company has currently released ten video games and has had over 100 million downloads on Google Play. She aspires to build one of India’s top gaming corporations from the idea stage to a multimillion-dollar operation.
3. Siobhan Reddy
Siobhan T. Reddy is the Studio Director at video game developer Media Molecule and a major supporter of diversity in video games, particularly among women. “There’s no ages, genders, or ethnicities. It is people, it is human,” said Reddy. Their projects aim to “[make] creative games for creative people” and do not target specific markets. Besides, their embrace of diversity can be reflected in the company, where the team is made up of different genders, ethnicities and sexualities. Back in 2017, the company announced that 30% of its employees were female.
Reddy has been with the firm since 2006, heading a team that has created some popular games, such as LittleBigPlanet and Dreams. She was also the driving force behind the award-winning Tearaway for the PS Vita and its sequel Tearaway Unfolded for PlayStation 4.
Reddy is also the first woman in games to be awarded the prestigious BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Fellowship in 2021 to honor her outstanding achievement and advocacy for diversity, inclusion and collaborative creative cultures in the game business.
4. Jennifer Hale
Jennifer Hale is a Canadian-American voice actress best known for her work in video game franchises, such as Baldur’s Gate and Mass Effect. Her contribution has earned her a Guinness World Record as the most prolific female gaming vocalist. She is also the voice of different characters in popular animations, like Spider-Man: The Animated Series, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest and The Powerpuff Girls.
Hale’s performance as Commander Shepard in the game Mass Effect won her recognition at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, where she was nominated for “Best Performance by a Human Female”. She has also been nominated for “Performer in a Leading Role” at the 18th British Academy Games Awards this year for her role as Rivet in shooter platform game Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
5. Sasha Hostyn/Scarlett
28-year-old Sasha Hostyn, also famously known as Scarlett in the gaming world, is a Canadian professional video game player who has an impressive gaming resume. She is the first woman to win a major tournament in StarCraft II in 2018. Besides, she is also admired for her coming out as transgender in a misogynistic culture around video games. She has put forward that one’s identities, like gender, race and sexuality, have “absolutely no relevance on how they play”.
Given her excellent achievements, she has been named to Forbes’ list of the most powerful women in international sports in 2018 and the “most accomplished woman in esports” by The New Yorker in 2015. Having made US$200,000 in her career so far, she’s now one of the highest-paid professional female gamers ever.
These five women are just a handful of the many who have made their mark on the gaming industry. Many other women have started businesses to help expand and support the female demographic of gamers, while others have become developers of indie games that attract mainly female gamers. Regardless of their role in the gaming industry, these women are all inspiring examples of what can be achieved with hard work and determination.
Thank you, ladies!
Header image courtesy of Freepik