WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: Spotlight on Women in Games

Women in Games is a UK-based not-for-profit organisation, but with an international community and global reach. Here we speak to the CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman (pictured) about Women in Games’ work and ambitions…

What does Women in Games do?

Women in Games advocates for all women, girls and people of diverse gender identities, as well as transgender, gender diverse and intersex women, in order to positively influence public discourse and bring a culture of fairness and belonging to work and play spaces. In short, our purpose and mission is to support women who work in the games industry; and women and girls who play games. 

Our global community is continuously growing, and is formed of a vibrant ecosystem of Women in Games Corporate, Individual and Education Ambassadors. We currently have some 2,000 Individual Ambassadors across 77 countries worldwide, as well as Corporate Ambassadors and Education Ambassadors who engage with us and support our work.

We design and deliver a series of global online events throughout the year, as well as in-person networking expos to bring the industry and our community together and address the key challenges facing women working in games, and those playing them.

We produce significant publications that provide important insights and recommendations to games dev studios and other organisations into how to achieve gender fairness in the games and esports sectors. They include the Women in Games Guide: Building A Fair Playing Field. And we recently launched our Manifesto – a call to arms for equality and equity for women in games and esports around the world. 

We also collaborate with a wide range of other organisations around the world that share our vision, in research and development projects. 

…and what do you want to achieve? 

In essence, we want fairness for women in the games industry –  fair pay through eliminating gender pay gaps; fair and safe working environments where women can progress in meaningful careers; and fair industry practices, where no woman is disadvantaged because of gender.

Bringing more women into leadership positions in studios, more women building their own business and studios through fairer investment practices. Current VC investment for women, according to the World Economic Forum, saw female-founded companies receive only 2% of all venture capital (VC) investment in 2022. Gender bias and a scarcity of female investors are thought to hamper VC investment in female-owned businesses.

We want to bring about the further successful development and maturity of games as a creative and cultural art form, and for those games that depend on narrative, diverse representation is key. So more women involved in the creative process, and providing them with supportive working environments, will lead to greater diversity in terms of representation in games themselves

What companies in the industry do you think are helping to create change? And who are some of the leading lights? 

There are numerous leading lights who we have showcased and highlighted in our Women in Games Guide: Building a Fair Playing Field which was supported by Video Games Europe (VGE) and InGAME.

The Guide is sectioned into 5 Spheres of Action and highlights good practice in the field of gender equality by providing discussion and first hand accounts of professional practice, supported by practical recommendations that all games sector stakeholders

can adapt and apply to any context. They are examples that can be adapted for any size of studio, because they are based on ethical principles – making them flexible, practical and pragmatic. We are now working on an updated version of the Guide which will include exciting new Spheres of Action, and will be published later this year.

A couple of examples of company partnerships that really support Women in Games and help provide tangible impacts are Keywords Studios which powers our Individual Ambassador Programme. We are now entering our third year of working together. The partnership is a very proactive one; we meet regularly to work on projects and initiatives together that not only impact Keywords Studios globally and internally, but also the wider sector and our community. 

And Ubisoft, who we have worked closely with over several years, has recently become a high level Silver Corporate Ambassador – demonstrating their desire to constantly improve their studio culture and providing us with support to do our work and make impacts in the sector.

Are you hopeful for the future?

We are optimists. The games sector is too important a sector, for all its stakeholders, not to develop into a place of equality and equity. 

But it would be naive to say that this isn’t challenging work; there are a variety of blockers and attitudes that need urgent addressing. Real change can only be achieved by asking searching questions about prevailing conventions and norms and demanding action.

Women in Games’ continuing mantra is that no-one should be disadvantaged because they are a woman. And whether it is from the speakers at our events, or our community, we share a determined optimism about positive change throughout the games work and play space. 

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