Today, March 8, International Women’s Day is commemorated, a date on which we remember the role of women in society and the constant struggle to achieve equal conditions with men in different areas, especially in the workplace. The video game industry has not been oblivious to the unfortunate reality that female workers live in and despite having an overwhelming male presence, this has not prevented female developers from emerging with a determining role in the medium.
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From the beginnings of gaming as an exercise for programmers and computer scientists in the 1960s to today, when video games are considered one of the most important branches of entertainment, there have been women who have not only inspired legions of developers who came after them, but also showed that talent does not understand gender.
Next, we tell you 6 stories that were responsible for promoting gender equality in video games.
Mabel Addis Mergardt was a writer and teacher born in Mt. Vernon, New York in the United States on May 21, 1912. Called Mabel Holmes before marrying Alexander L. Addis in 1942, she had a brilliant career during her time as student and this led to her being recruited by IBM and the Cooperative Educational Service Boards to create The Summerian Game, the first text-based computer video game, in 1964 for the IBM 7090. Her work as a designer on this project led to her being recognized as the first female video game developer, a title she often shares with Carol Shaw, designer of Tic-Tac-Toe. from Atari. She passed away on August 13, 2004.
Addis’s contribution should not be overlooked as, in addition to participating in a milestone in gaming history, she was also the first representative of women in the industry when it came to development.
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Born on February 16, 1953 in La Verne, United States as Roberta Heuer, this writer and later video game developer founded the company Sierra On-Line, later known as Sierra Entertainment, together with her husband Ken Williams in 1979 to create and Publish your own titles. In 1980, Williams released Mystery House, her first commercial success recognized as the first graphic adventure. Her other works include names like the critically acclaimed King’s Quest and Phantasmagoria.
When Sierra was acquired by CUC International in 1996, Williams disagreed with the creative and business decisions, leaving the company after the publication of King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity in 1998 and retiring from the video game industry. in 1999 to travel the world and write fiction novels. In 2021, he expressed his desire to return to game development with a new work called The Secret.
Roberta Williams is considered one of the most influential figures in the field for her work at Sierra Entertainment establishing the graphic adventure genre and creating several of the best works in this branch of gaming. She is often called “queen of adventure games” because of her titles.
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Kimberly Swift was born in 1983 in the United States. After graduating from the DigiPen Institute of Technology in 2005, her desire to develop video games led her to join Valve Corporation as a designer, participating in some of the studio’s most acclaimed titles such as Portal, Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. Later, Swift would venture to other companies such as Artight Games, Amazon, Electronic Arts, Google Stadia and Xbox Game Studios, to which she currently belongs, always with the intention of doing what she is most passionate about: creating unique and memorable experiences for players.
Since her foray into the industry, Swift has been considered by the specialized press as one of the young promises of video games due to the plethora of works in which she participated. Following the release of Star Wars Battlefront II, the last project she actively worked on as part of the development team, Swift has focused on innovating and experimenting with cloud gaming to continue contributing to the medium.
Born in 1964 in the United States. Hennig graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in English literature and then went to film school at San Francisco State University, where she was hired by Atari to work on a video game called ElectroCop. This experience led her to realize that gaming interested her more than film, so she dropped out of school and directed her efforts towards this newfound passion.
Her talent as a writer led her to be hired by Electronic Arts where she designed the title Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City in 1994 for the Super Nintendo. However, his true springboard to stardom would come with the Legacy of Kain franchise, being part of the Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain team and later directing, producing and writing the sequel Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, one of the most remembered video games of PlayStation, in 1999.
Thanks to her work on these titles, Hennig caught the attention of the Naughty Dog studio and was hired shortly after to direct Jak 3 in 2004, but her life’s work would come in 2007 with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, the first title in the franchise. that he created and directed. The success of the game as a PlayStation 3 exclusive was such that it was accompanied by two sequels, also by Hennig, and a fourth installment in which he had little participation due to leaving the studio in 2014. It currently belongs to Skydance Media and is participating in the future Forspoken from Lumina Studios and Square Enix
Amy Hennig is one of the most important developers in the video game industry due to her fundamental participation in three large and successful franchises. Edge magazine considers her one of the most influential women in the business, and with good reason. Her style, narrative and creative vision are highly noticeable in her works and these have been of particular relevance to her respective studies.
Born on October 19, 1967 in Hyougo Prefecture, Japan, Shimomura showed an interest in music from an early age, even composing her own pieces when she began piano lessons at the age of 5. After graduating from the Osaka University of Music, her passion for video games led her to try her luck in this industry, despite the refusal of her friends and family since, at that time, video game music was not highly respected.
Fortunately, this was not an impediment for Shimomura to accept the job offer that Capcom offered her, thus starting a fruitful career that led her to be considered one of the best composers in the video game industry alongside giants like Nobuo Uematsu. (Final Fantasy), Koichi Sugiyama (Dragon Quest) or Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger).
Without Shimomura’s music, video games as iconic as Street Fighter II, Super Mario RPG, the Mario & Luigi saga, Radiant Historia, Parasite Eve, Legend of Mana and especially the Kingdom Hearts franchise would not be the same and this is precisely what It has led her to be considered one of the most influential artists in Japan and the world when it comes to gaming.
Born on September 23, 1963 in the prefecture of Kagawa, Japan, Yamane began at a very young age in the world of music since she had an electric organ at her parents’ house. After taking piano lessons and becoming fascinated with styles such as rock and classical music, she also developed a keen interest in video games by playing at local arcades or with close friends’ Famicoms.
While studying at the Aichi Prefectural University of the Arts, Yamane was hired by Konami and became part of its prestigious Kukeiha Club, the team responsible for composing music for the company’s video games. It is here that she began her career that would reach its peak with her participation in the Castlevania series.
Yamane was responsible for several of the most memorable pieces of modern gaming in the series such as Bloodlines, Aria of Sorrow, Harmony of Dissonance, Lament of Innocence, Portrait of Ruin, and of course the seminal Symphony of the Night, widely regarded as one One of the best video games of all time. Today, Yamane’s legacy is unblemished and he has inspired hundreds of new composers thanks to his particular style.
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