In late November of last year, a single tweet posed a simple question to the world: “Why are there so few lady game creators?” While it is no real secret that the gaming industry is predominantly made up of males, this single question had quite a response on the popular social networking site. Twitter was ablaze with the reactions of thousands of women, most of whom are already developers within the video game design field. Each voiced her one reason why there really aren’t that many women in this industry, whether promoting games, making them, or weaving their stories. The majority of these reasons documented painful experiences, startling examples of rampant sexism and exclusion in video game design.
While this recent trend brought about heated debates and had developers, male and female, pointing fingers, there was soon to be an upside. #1ReasonMentors, the trend within a trend, was born and rose to a height that had women developers seeking for the attention they knew they deserved. It was inspiring to see these women come together, bonding over their atrocious experiences getting to where they are today. Each began to offer these experiences as learning lessons, hoping to allow women who were interested in the getting into the gaming industry an insight into what a day in their lives is really like. Soon, the trend transformed into offerings of mentorship, a group devoting themselves to helping females get on the right path to landing a career in a development company.
Watching this experience from the sidelines wasn’t enough. I was seeing thousands of women tossing out incredible amounts of crucial gaming industry information that it was tough not to soak it all up. By the second day of the phenomenon, several users had compiled lists of women, and even men, working in the industry who were willing to share their own experiences and mentor anyone will to learn. They grouped them into convenient categories, catering to what you were searching for. I began my own search with a curious mind, a “just looking” mentality, and continued to scroll down the extensive list of Twitter users. There were women in programming, marketing, the writing and editorial aspects of gaming, and the number of women offering their expertise in 3D animation or character design was staggering as well.
For the duration of my search, I never quite knew if I would get in touch with any of these men and women who were offering up their help in mentoring. I had seen a few in my desired fields within this expansive industry, but really wondered if they would help someone in my position. These were female game developers who were currently working in the industry, busy with their tasks and focused on the successes of their products. But they were offering.
I chose three people that sparked the most interest for me, two women in the character design aspect and, wouldn’t you know it, one man who makes a living as a writer and narrative designer. While I have since been given valuable information from the two women I reached out to, it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I found Tom Abernathy to be the most helpful of them all. What began as a simple LinkedIn message has now become a full-fledged mentorship that I am proud to say I reached out for. Since the Twitter trend, we have had several conversations, including a phone call, that has since inspired me to continue to update my personal portfolio and continue to network. Tom is full of sound advice and is a huge supporter of women working with video games and I have come to value his time and helpful hints for me.
I feel that women are still pushing to become a force behind the gaming trends. My experience with #1ReasonMentors has become a positive one. While I am proud of myself for reaching out, I am continually amazed at Tom’s passion for this industry and his genuine willingness to help. Tom has also pushed me to attend my first Game Developer’s Conference this year, where he is a part of the advisory committee of the Game Narrative’s Summit. As with any competitive field, the gaming world can be a ruthless journey. With Tom’s support, I am excited and eager to see what can be made of myself and other women rising up from this single trend.
Written by PMS B0NELY, member of the PMS|H2O Editorial Team. Follow her on Twitter!