This International Women’s Day, I’m Thinking About The Female Pioneers Of The Games Industry

This International Women’s Day, I’m Thinking About The Female Pioneers Of The Games Industry

Happy International Women’s Day! A joyous day to celebrate all the broads of the world. It’s my favourite day of the year because it’s the one day I get to make up fun little things that only women can do today, like steal one item from their workplace or commit some type of fraud.

But here in this post, I decided that it would be nice to celebrate some of the iconic women in video games, from those that have worked in and continue to work in the industry to those that exist within the games we love. While only 23% of the video games industry is currently made up of women (according to GDC 2023 State of the Game Industry), a good number of women have made undeniably important contributions to the video games we know and love.

The pioneers

Pictured: Mabel Addis. Image:

Dating all the way back to the 60’s, Mabel Addis was the very first female game designer, responsible for The Sumerian Game back in 1964 on the IBM 7090. This title introduced concepts like game updates, narrative experiences, and early versions of cutscenes to games. While Addis is an undeniable icon, it’s only this year that she’s posthumously receiving the Pioneer Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards.

Image: Keiko Erikawa

And then there’s Keiko Erikawa, who cofounded Koei Tecmo with her husband Yoichi Erikawa (Kou Shibusawa)  in 1978. Not only has Koei Tecmo not had a single employee redundancy or made a loss in its 45 years of existence, but Erikawa is directly responsible for the creation of Ruby Party, the first exclusively-female studio within Koei Tecmo. Ruby Party, which was comprised of women from other industries that Erikawa hired and retrained to work in games, is also responsible for the first known otome (dating sim aimed at women) ever made, Angelique.

Image: Muriel Tramis

And then there’s Muriel Tramis, who is known as the first black female game designer. Tramis joined French studio Coktel Vision in 1986, where she worked on a number of titles up until her departure in 2003. She was involved in the development of some of Coktel Vision’s most popular titles, which include the Gobliiins series and The Bizarre Adventures of Woodruff and the Schnibble, and was also the head creator for Emmanuelle, Geisha, Fascination, Urban Runner, and most notably Méwilo and Lost in Time.

The current icons

From the early plights of these women, we can look at the women in the video games industry today and see a wide array of talent in multiple different parts of the industry. To name just a few, you’ve got: Amy Henning (Uncharted, Jak & Daxter, Legacy of Kain), Megan Fox (SkateBIRD, Spartan Fist, Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora), Maddy Thorson (Celestie, TowerFall), Lena Raine (Celeste, Chicory: A Colourful Tale, Minecraft), Kim Swift (Portal, Left 4 Dead, Half Life 2), Ayami Kojima (Castlevania, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night), Corrinne Yu (Quake, Borderlands, Halo 4), Allison James (Pong Quest, Maddening Euphoria, Maddening Overlord), Kellee Santiago (Flow, Flower, Journey), Nana Moon (Keylocker, Virgo Versus Zodiac), Jade Raymond (Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, Far Cry 4), Brenda Romero (Wizardry, Playboy: The Mansion, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Commander), Ikumi Nakamura (The Evil Within, Ghostwire: Tokyo, Okami, Bayonetta), Janese Swanson (Carmen Sandiego), Roberta Williams (King’s Quest)… I could go on. There are so many.

And what about locally? The Australian video game industry is packed with so many incredible women who have work in games, with some even starting their own studios, including Victoria Kershaw (Wylde Flowers)Wren Brier (Unpacking), Lauren Clinnick (Kinder World), Cherie Davidson (Dreams, Intergalactic Space Princess, Tearaway Unfolded), Lisy Kane (Armello, Hand of Fate, Push Me Pull You), Brooke Maggs (The Gardens Between, Earthlight), Rebecca Fernandez (Tricky Towers, Armello), Elissa Harris (Objects in Space), Olivia Haines (Surf Club, e-scape, Drive Me To The Moon), Nicole Stark (Sunny Garcia Surfing, Barbie Ice Skating), Siobhan Reddy (Dreams, Little Big Planet), Erin Dupuy (Dead Space, Real Racing 3, Need for Speed: No Limits), Katharine Neil (Escape From Woomera, co-founder of Freeplay), Kati Elizabeth (Future Folklore), Teja Godson (Rumu, Boomerang Fu), Jessica Shipard (Gubbins), Hayley Percy (Future Folklore), Phoebe Watson (Finding Service, Everyday, Future Folklore), Chantal Ryan (darkwebSTREAMER), Grace Bruxner (Frog Detective), Ally McLean (The Witcher 3, Rumu, Mystiques), and SO many more. We are practically popping out female talent left, right, and centre over here. It rocks.

Sure, the video games industry is still considerably male-dominated, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t full of incredibly talented women. That being said, you’ll still see all sorts of less-than-favourable attitudes towards women in the gaming world. Hopefully, on this International Women’s Day, we can take a moment to appreciate not only the women in our lives, but also the women that make some of our favourite games.

And hey, just a crazy thought here! You can also do that on any other day, too. I know I missed some, so if you’ve got a woman in the games industry that you really admire, let us know in the comments!

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