Women in Game Development
Game development is fast catching up as a career choice among young girls in India. Today many girls are hooked to online, mobile and video games as much as boys and are choosing a career in game development.
Women in game development bring a fresh perspective to the theme, storyline and characters in the game. With more women playing games, companies are also rethinking the way games are designed. They are looking at adding more female characters to the games. They also believe that women game developers can create dynamic female characters and are encouraging them.
Today there are many women game developers who have found success and are inspiring young women to take up game development. If you are considering this profession then here are the skill sets and job requirements for game development. Read ahead for perspectives on the profession from some women game developers.
The general qualities and skillsets required to make a career in this field include strong skills in drawing, creative bent of mind, analytical thinking, visualization, logical thinking, interpersonal skills etc.
The eligibility for doing an undergraduate degree or diploma in game development is 10+2 with maths, physics as the main subjects.
Game development as a profession offers diverse roles from game designer, game writer, and game artist to the game tester. One can work as a game programmer and design and write the computer code that runs and controls a game.
It is no doubt a challenging field and requires teamwork, good communication skills and willingness to listen and collaborate. These qualities are not gendered specific and women can do as well as men in this field. The evidence of this is the increasing number of successful women game developers.
Women Game Developers
Globally, women constitute a small percentage of game developers. The workforce in game development companies is dominated by males but women are making small but sure inroads into the industry.
Today there are many women game developers working at top levels and some have even started their own companies. Game companies agree on the fact that more women need to be hired as game designers if better games are to be produced.
According to The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) workplace study in 2014, 76 per cent of the workforce is male, compared to 22 percent female. The apprehensions women have to deal with include long working hours, early burn out and decreased job satisfaction. But the positive fact is women who made up only 11.5 percent of the workforce in 2009 has seen an increase.
In India too, there are many women who not only play games but are also active in-game forums. We spoke to Poornima Seetharaman, the lead game designer at GSN Games India Pvt Ltd. She started her gaming career with a South Korean mobile games company, Cyberhills. She also worked with Indiagames (now Disney), where she was the Lead Designer for the mobile version of Bioshock. She runs her own game design studio, Pinaka Interactive which focuses on games that deal with social causes in the real world. She is also one of the founding members of Nasscom Gaming Forum – Special Interest Group on Women in Game Development.
Poornima’s advice to women wanting to take up gaming as a career:
- Take up an internship. An internship gives you clarity and provides you with money, mentors and a network. Then choose which career path in gaming you would like to pursue. This will help you decide your path based on experience and not just understanding.
- Never put a person on a pedestal or put down a person just because they are good or bad at a particular game.
- Utilize the online medium which has abundant sources on game development. Learn, learn, and learn even more.
- Participate in gaming events and conferences and build your contacts.
But there are challenges women game developers have to contend with.
The Way Ahead
Women game developers feel games can be made more inclusive to women if they have more of female protagonists. They opine that the lack of diversity in the types of games being made is one reason there are very few female protagonists and this can change only if more women get into game development.
But the good news is many women are breaking stereotypes and choosing this profession. They are experimenting with game development and bringing creativity to the field and are succeeding too. They are an inspiration to young women.
Young women can choose this profession for the number of exciting avenues it offers; they can be artists, animators, writers, designers, producers or programmers after the right course of study.
Backstage Pass is encouraging more girls to opt for a career in game development by offering scholarships for female students.
With such initiatives to encourage more women to enter the profession, the number of women game developers is bound to grow.