When I go on the vast and plentiful internet where I get to see people banding together and creating tons of not-so-secret societies of like-minded people, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It makes me happy to see communities of people who are trying to inspire women to learn how to code. It inspires me to discover communities of girls who love to play video games getting together and bonding via the internet. But when I went looking for a community of girls like me who like to make art or who like to make games … I couldn’t really find anything.
Life as an aspiring female game developer is pretty lonely. Most game developers that I come across are guys, and the few female developers I have come across haven’t really responded to my efforts at communication. Why is it that female game artists and developers aren’t all best friends? We have secret powers—we can sculpt fantastical worlds and build heroes from the polygonal floor up. Do female game artists and developers even exist? If so, where are we all hiding? And why? And if there are girls out there who want to be in the game industry but aren’t, what’s holding them back?
Is it the GG controversy scaring us all away from this magical land of infinite possibility? Or is it just that women haven’t really considered the artistic potential that video games have in store for the world? Are video games not respected enough as an art form? Are we, as women, too caught up in other things when it comes to our gender to worry about the fact that maybe we could be living the dream making kickass games like hundreds of thousands of other people?
Have you ever gone to a game studio’s website and looked at a picture of their staff? In many cases, you’ll see a big family photo of a group of about a hundred jolly people all wearing some comfortable casual clothes in a relaxed and fun-looking work environment, smiling at the camera. Have you ever counted how many women were in the photo? Try it sometime. I would love for you to send me the link to the company with more than a handful of girls smiling at you from that photo amidst 90 male co-workers.
What’s the deal? Some of the most creative and talented people I know are girls. I’d love to find out why more of us aren’t turning to video game art. Video games are about to hit their hay day—I can feel it. We haven’t even reached the potential games have as a powerful storytelling tool. Movies and books are great, but have you played video games?! Imagine what would happen if games were written as well as Harry Potter was written, or if they were directed as well as the movie Frozen. (Hint: J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter, is indeed a woman even though her publishers made her go by J.K. to hide that fact. And in case you weren’t aware, Frozen is the highest grossing animated film of all time. It just so happened to be directed by Chris Buck … and Jennifer Lee.)
I’m not saying that women do things better, but think about it: what is the video game industry missing out on simply because nearly half of its creative genius is too afraid or too unaware that they belong in a field with limitless possibility?
This isn’t a feminist complaint or a criticism of my favorite industry, the one I have chosen to work in for the rest of my life. This is a call-to-arms! It’s time to show ourselves as game artists and developers and to be proud of each other. I want to encourage girls to shoot for the stars. Yes, you are allowed to make games. I want to befriend other girls who share the same passion for making games that I have. I just need to find out first: where are my fellow game developer girls?!