International Women’s Day | 5 Inspiring Examples of Women in Gaming
For over forty years gaming from the table top to the screen has been seen as a male dominated industry. Those with a basic knowledge of gaming all know the names from Dungeons and Dragons founder Gary Gygax to Ken Levine of Bioshock fame and Todd Howard of Skyrim infamy. Unsurprisingly a great deal of women also work behind the scenes as designers, voice actors and even studio heads of some of the most famous games and developers out there. Gamergate highlighted some with Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn becoming newsworthy names but at the expense of their achievements in the field of gaming. With International Women’s Day upon us I thought I’d highlight a few more women in gaming.
Jennifer Hale – Voice Actor
Hale is one of the most prolific female voice actors in video games and one of the best known women in gaming. She has provided the voices for countless famous characters from the female version of Commander Shepard in the original Mass Effect trilogy as well as numerous characters in Blizzard’s critically acclaimed RPG series Baldur’s Gate as well as Diablo III. She has voiced numerous superheroes in various Spider-Man and X-Men games as well as the alternate reality scientist Rosalind Lutece in Bioshock Infinite. Her most famous role however has no words only grunts and screams. Jennifer Hale voiced Samus Aran – the protagonist of the Metroid Prime series – in the Metroid Prime trilogy. Samus was the first ever female protagonist of a game and although she never said a word Hale’s vocal exertions became Samus’ and became ours as Samus rolled and shot her way across the galaxy.
Amy Hennig – Writer/Director.
Hennig is responsible for making Nolan North the most recognisable voice in video games and her direction of the the first three Uncharted games are considered some of the greatest games of all time. Hennig has moved from strength to strength throughout her career and has gone from directing dark fantasy in the Legacy of Kain series to moving one of the most famous franchises ever in a new direction with Battlefield Hardline. Continuing her long streak of achievements is her current position as creative director of the as yet untitled EA Star Wars game. Never mind searching for lost civilisations Amy Hennig has bigger plans in a galaxy far, far away.
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Robin Hunicke – Producer/Professor.
Anyone familiar with Journey will know it as one of the more thought-provoking and enriching indie games out there. Beginning her career in EA working on MySims Hunicke left in 2012 to work on Journey as a producer. Her career since Journey has been, well, a journey (I assume that’s the first time this joke’s been made and I’m not fact-checking it). She moved from independent studio to independent studio before setting up Funomena game studio in San Fransisco with Martin Middleton in 2013 and currently teaches in the University of California in Santa Cruz where she lectures on video game design. In both her position as designer, producer and professor Robin Hunicke has championed both indie games and women in gaming and has a stack of awards, including a Gaming BAFTA, to prove just how good she is at what she does.
Michiru Yamane – Composer.
Castlevania is one of the most famous platformer series ever created. So famous that in combination with Metroid it has its own genre. Metroidvanias are so common that merely logging into an online gaming store nets you at least 3. Yamane is a Japanese composer that composed the soundtrack for some of the most famous games in the Castlevania series. From Bloodlines to Symphony of the Night all the way up to Order of Ecclesia in 2008 Yamane had a hand in most of the epic and Gothic soundscapes players came across as they hunted a pixelated Count Dracula. Yamane has moved on to include the Wii U iteration of Super Smash Bros. on her resume. Though her musical accomplishments are dark and Gothic her example is a shining light to women in gaming everywhere.
Jade Raymond – Executive.
At the beginning of all their games, Ubisoft state that the game was developed by a team of diverse people of many genders, orientations, races and creeds. Definitely true considering how many offices the originally French-Canadian company has around the world. When Jade Raymond was there she oversaw the production of the first three Assassin’s Creed games as well as Watch Dogs. In 2015 Raymond moved on to head Motive Studios in Montreal as well as join Amy Hennig in California to work on Visceral Games’ Star Wars IP. Although Visceral has closed down work is now split between EA in Vancouver and Raymond’s own EA backed Motive Studio in Montreal.