This week, a new book profiling some of the most high-profile women in gaming was released. Written by Crystal Dynamics’ Senior Community and Social Media Manager Meagan Marie, “Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play” looks at the major accomplishments of women in games since the industry began, and includes tips from industry professionals and short essays that affect women in gaming-related careers. We had the chance to chat with Meagan about the book, touching on everything from her inspirations to some of her favorite stories in the book. She even agreed to share her Editor’s Note from the book, which you can read below!
How did this book come about? What was your inspiration?
Prima approached me about writing a book on women in video games in late in late 2017. They were interested in a culture-focused publication to expand beyond their mainstay strategy guides. I eagerly accepted, as increasing the visibility of women’s contributions to video games has been a longtime passion project of mine. I also quickly recognized the immense responsibility of taking on such an important subject matter, and knew that I had an obligation to get it right.
Aside from the general subject matter, Prima gave me freedom to establish nearly all aspects of the book myself – from the overall format, to the list of participants, and even the cover artist. Before establishing the table of contents, I ordered a variety of books about the historical achievements of women in a variety of fields – women in space, ecology, mountaineering, and more. From these books, I landed on a presentation that I thought could be both entertaining and educational.
Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play profiles the accomplishments of women who have contributed to the industry in a meaningful way, from a wide variety of fields, geographic locations, and perspectives. I also wanted the book to appeal to more than just core gamers and fellow professionals. As such, I included a glossary of terminology and high-level decade overviews to contextualize profiles. The book also features “Day in the Life of” spreads that detail the wide-variety of industry careers available – from working as a video game buyer at a major retailer, to a pro-gamer, community manager, producer, designer, and more. With Essays and “In Their Own Words” features factored in, I managed to sneak in well over 150 contributors!
What was your biggest takeaway now that you’ve finished?
Inspiration, without a doubt. From my work in the industry, I already had a long list of women I looked up to for their AAA accomplishments. In researching and writing this book, I met many young women who are the next generation of industry leaders. From the work Ari Green is doing to help establish the Caribbean game development scene or the educational efforts of Zambian Games Evangelist Sithé Annette Ncube, these women and many more are changing the landscape of gaming for the better, and their passion and creativity fuels me.
Was there anything that surprised you while putting the book together?
During the research phase of the project, it became clear that much of my existing industry knowledge centered on achievements from American, Canadian, UK, or Japanese contributors. I worked hard to rectify this, ensuring the final publication featured women from around the world. Through this research, I learned of many women I had not heard of previously.
Muriel Tramis is one of these women. She began working for French video game developer Coktel Vision in the mid-80s. Her very first game – Mewilo, explored her French-Caribbean heritage and received a Silver Medal for Historical and Cultural Significance from the city of Paris. Her future works focused on rarely explored topics such as slavery and female sexuality. She also helped create a curriculum of education games that sold worldwide. Tramis received the Legion of Honour award this year, a medal that is the highest recognition for both military and civil service in France.
I hope that Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play expands the horizons of readers, just as it did for me.
I’m sure you heard some great stories throughout your interviews. What was your favorite anecdote?
Each of the 100 profiles includes an “Easter Egg” about the participant, which is a little known fact about their life. Some of them are industry-focused, such as how Bonnie Ross became rollerblade buddies with Tetris Creator Alexey Pajitnov in the late 90s, or how Yoko Shimomura collects LEGOS and uses them to get out of a creative rut while composing music. I found personal tidbits just as interesting – I was not aware that Jade Raymond moved to Jamaica at the age of six where her family set up a clinic, or that Emily Greer is a competitive figure skater on a national scale. I found these facts endlessly fascinating.
Any plans or ideas for a follow-up book?
No specific plans now, but curating the list of contributors for Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play was a painful process; I could fill a dozen books on the subject matter. For now, my hope is that this book helps to inspire young women to find their unique voice and forge their path in the industry.
Thanks to Meagan Marie for giving us and inside look at the creation of her new book, which we highly encourage anyone interested in the gaming industry to check out. Now, please enjoy the Editor’s Note from the book.
A Note From The Author
Firstly, I want to thank you, deeply, for supporting Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play.
Secondly, before you dive into reading, I want to make one point abundantly clear:
This book is not a complete history of the contributions and achievements of women in the video game industry.
In my opinion, that’s a good thing. If we could fit the cumulative accomplishments of every professional woman associated with the video game industry within a 350-page book, we’d have a significantly longer journey ahead of us on the road to true representation and parity. There is certainly more work to be done, and this book aims to aid the cause. Every year more women around the world lend their voices-amplified by industry allies-and make the passage that much less turbulent for aspiring video game professionals.
With that in mind, filling a list limited to only 100 influential women was an incredibly daunting task. Accepting that I couldn’t include every woman who made a mark on gaming, I instead carefully curated contributors to represent a diverse array of life experiences, skills, and opinions. I networked with organizations from around the world to help surface women making change everywhere; from established markets, to emerging ones in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and more. I sought out accomplished women from varying ethnic, religious, and sexual identities. I interviewed women with backgrounds in AAA titles, indie games, games-for-change, and beyond. The diverse tapestry of stories collected in this book illustrates the immense potential video games have as a medium-limited only by the most valuable resource within it-the people.
With that caveat out of the way, let’s talk about what this book is:
- It illustrates that women have always played a major role in the video game industry, despite widely-accepted beliefs that it originated as and continues to be the domain of men.
- It represents a diverse array of women’s voices, including women of color, LGBTQ+ women, women from developing markets, and other often marginalized groups.
- It is a celebration of achievements, not a chronicling of challenges. Although we do touch on gender issues from both a personal and systemic standpoint, we don’t want them to overshadow success stories.
- It highlights both industry icons and unsung heroes; those whose careers span decades, and those whose careers have just begun.
- It counters the exclusionary opinion that only core development roles are key contributors to success by highlighting women in user research, quality assurance, systems administration, marketing, public relations, community management, journalism, retail, esports, and more.
- It highlights women from varied facets of the industry; AAA, indie, mobile, casual, educational, experimental, and everything in-between.
- It works lo dispel the notion that one woman must speak for all women by including direct quotes from diverse individuals. Opinions of contributors have not been edited or editorialized; they belong to each individual, as they should.
- It embraces making mistakes and offers candid reflections from industry veterans and newcomers alike, addressing how missteps resulted in valuable learning opportunities.
- It provides insight into specific industry disciplines through “Day in the Life of” features and a “Strategy Guide” of career resources, which is of value to all genders.
- It is accessible to those unfamiliar with the industry through a “tutorial” that defines common terms and colloquialisms, as well as high-level industry overviews to provide context to contributor profiles.
My biggest hope for this book is that these collected stories will inspire young women to join our ranks as the next generation of video game talent. I want them to aspire to be woman #101.
On a personal note, writing this book has been both empowering and incredibly humbling. Interacting with over one hundred women of such caliber and character has been an unprecedented experience in my life.
The responsibility of writing this book is not lost on me. Over the last year I’ve had my fair share of sleepless nights working to ensure each profile got the time and attention it deserved, inspired to do right by both the participants and readers.
To all of our contributors: Thank you for trusting me to tell your story, for dedicating your time, and for challenging me with your feedback along the way. The book is better for it and so am I.
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