Why being a female games developer doesn’t suck.

The games industry is a great industry to be a part of, but with all of the negative press it seems to get I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that it must really be a really shitty place to be for a woman.  And for a good percentage of women working in games dev, at some time or another it can be shitty.  Women make up approximately 10% of total staff in an average games development studio, and this, combined with occasional streaks of old ‘boys club’ mentality (which for some reason isn’t dead yet) means that misogyny is allowed to breed and thrive in some studios.  

We all know this, and we’re all fighting it. But without taking away the validity of the misogynistic issues or undervaluing how some women feel about their related experiences,  I’d like to shift the focus to some of the positive aspects of my job.

May I present to you a few of the reasons why I believe being a female games developer does indeed, not suck.

I make video games.

Well, that’s it in a nutshell really. We play games. We’re on the cutting edge of technology.  We create amazing emotional experiences. We script performances, we utilize psychology, we push boundaries of technical capabilities, and we make you laugh, smile, cry, find determination, and sharpen your wits. We challenge you.  We provide worlds where you can socialise and find other like-minded people, and we embrace all that you are without judgement.

I work with talented, creative, intelligent and fun people who work incredibly hard as a team to create all of the above, and we still have fun while doing it.  That’s pretty damn amazing.

When there are less women, you tend to make time for each other.

Every so often, we girls in the office get together for lunch.  We make time to chat about our other interests in coffee room breaks.  It’s a nice change from the day-to-day conversations usually experienced when you have a large group made up of mostly men, so these moments are really appreciated.

We band together, and because of this, some of my best friends are fellow female game developers.  It certainly helps that we’re all in the games world together and can chat and celebrate/commiserate together about our experiences.

No waiting for the loo!

With an average male to female ratio of 10-1, the odds are pretty good that you NEVER have to wait for the bathroom when you work for a game developer.  Sweet!

I can remember one time at Blue Tongue when there was a ‘line’ of two ladies.  After exclaiming how strange it was, we then used that waiting time as a chance to have a girl chat.  Bonus!

New female hires?  High-fives all around!

I can’t think of many other industries where the news of a new female employee gets excited woohoo’s and thumbs up from other women.  I don’t mean to say women in large groups in the workplace can be catty, but women in large groups in the workplace can TOTALLY be catty.  There’s something in us that can make us judgy and comparative in these situations, and it sucks.  Read Bonnie Burton’s book ‘Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change’ to understand more on this odd female phenomenon.

Where I work, instead of seeing another woman as competition, we tend to view other women as a breath of fresh, sweet-smelling air.

The dudes enjoy the break from other dudes, too!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been the sounding-board for a guy at work who’s going through girl troubles.  Or how many times I’ve coo’d alongside a brand new Dad while he shows me the 500th baby picture I’ve seen that day.   Or how often I’ve been asked for my opinion on an outfit, or a date idea, or what I think about facial hair. (Well-groomed beards rock, fyi)

Sometimes guys just want a break from man stuff, and we can totally help with that.  My old team would often indulge me when I got all excited about my lunchtime shopping bargains, and I suspect they secretly enjoyed hearing about it…

At least that’s what I told myself while I held up some amazing Guess jeans that were OMG HALF PRICE YOU GUYS.

If you’re not a girly-girl, you fit right in!

Some girls enjoy ‘girly’ things, some don’t.  Some love pedicures, some love beer and hockey, some love optimizing code, and some love all of the above.  I don’t believe that there are things girls should be into, and things guys should be into, but my point is that it doesn’t matter WHAT you’re into.  At work, if it’s different from the ‘norm’ (like pedicures) it’s refreshing and different - I’ve indeed had co-worker dudes question me about the process of nail care.  If it’s something the majority are into, then you have plenty of people to share your interests.  Win-win!

Because I am part of a minority, my opinions are valued.

Here’s the split where being a woman in the games industry can either rock, or… not.

Let me explain.  I have been very lucky in my career to only work with people (men and women) who really do value my opinions as a woman. They’ve ensured that I am included in and contribute to all relevant discussions and planning. My gender has been seen as an asset.

Unfortunately a lot of women in games have experienced the direct opposite of this, and this is what we usually hear about.  Misogyny in this industry is very real, and should be of a huge concern for all of us as it is the opposite of what should be happening – those few female opinions should be valued as a representation of a HUGE market of women out there.

My own positive experiences have made this the highlight of my job, so I’d like to thank all of the men in our industry who understand how important we are, who respect us and make our work environment a good place to be.  You’re great and we appreciate you!  

I want ALL women working in games to love this job as much as I do, and I think this is absolutely achievable. It starts with all of you great guys out there being role models for others, so just keep doing what you’re doing, and teach others the value of the female opinion and contributions in a male-dominated industry.

Because my job does most definitely not suck.

My job is, well, kinda awesome. :)