The gaming industry is gradually including more women. Here are some of the women who have made those advances possible. Their work, advocacy, and gameplay has made the gaming community a richer and better place.
Roberta Williams, Designer, Sierra Entertainment founder
Williams is a key member of the founding generation of video game creators. Williams created dozens of titles. She is also the lead designer of King’s Quest, one of the most beloved Golden Era adventure games. Williams founded the game studio, Sierra Entertainment, that developed King’s Quest and many other titles. Sierra was one of the most prominent game studios of the 1980s and 1990s. It is now a part of Activision.
Anita Sarkeesian and Carolyn Petit, Feminist Frequency
Sarkeesian and Petit are prominent commentators and activists in the gaming realm. Sarkeesian in particular came to national prominence as a target of Gamergate harassment—and a leader of the response.
Their website, Feminist Frequency, teaches its readers and viewers how to think about media, gaming, and pop culture in a critical way. They also collaborate with content creators and game designers to improve representation of underprivileged communities in new content.
Jorien van der Heijden/Sheever, Journalist and webcaster
Sheever is one of the best known and most respected casters in esports. Sheever started out in games as a competitive WoW and DotA player herself. She ran a popular Twitch channel under her own handle. In 2012, van der Heijden started hosting and interviewing players at major tournaments like The International, and her career took off. She’s now an in-demand esports host and analys. Unfortunately, in 2017, Sheever was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s received a strong message of support from fellow gamers.
Natacha Jones, Tournament producer and activist
Jones is the youngest person on this list, and she already has an impressive resume. She’s a student at the University of Manchester, where she leads the esports club. She’s the organizer of King of the North, one of the largest esports tournaments in the UK. Jones has a bright future in the gaming industry.
Brie Code, Developer and commentator
Code is a game developer with a long resume that’s full of impressive titles. She was a lead programmer for Child of Light and titles in the Assassin’s Creed series at Ubisoft, a major gaming studio. She also works as a speaker and writer, and independently consults on new games.
Zoe Quinn, Writer, developer and activist
Quinn won awards in her first career as an independent game developer. When she became a target of Gamergate, Quinn changed directions. Now she’s an activist and writer. Her memoir about the events of Gamergate was published in 2016, and is being adapted into a movie.
Stephanie Harvey/MissHarvey, Esports athlete and developer
Stephanie Harvey is one of the world’s best and most well-known esports players. She’s a Counter Strike ace and has won five world championships playing the game. When she’s not training and competing in esports, she works at Ubisoft as a game developer. Harvey is also a feminist activist. She’s something of a public figure in her native Canada: Harvey won a reality show called Canada’s Smartest Person.
T.L. Taylor and Morgan Romine (a.k.a. Rhoulette), AnyKey
Taylor and Romine lead AnyKey, an advocacy and research group that pushes esports to be more inclusive of a diverse set of fans and players. Taylor is a sociologist at MIT who has authored essential studies about gaming and game culture. Romine is an esports athlete: she was the Team Captain of Frag Dolls, one of the first all-women esports teams. These days she’s busy with her activism and advocacy work.
Jess Brohard, Nadja Otikor, Anna Prosser Robinson, Misscliks
Robinson, Brohard, and Otikor each contribute to Misscliks, an internet video channel that produces shows aimed for women and other underrepresented groups in gaming. Their popular weekly webcasts on the network focus on esports and gaming culture.
Julia Juliano Kiran/juliano, Esports athlete
Kiran is also known by her handle, juliano. She’s the leader of Dynasty, a champion Counter Strike: Global Offensive team that’s made up strictly of women.
Brianna Wu, Giant Spacekat founder and politician
Wu started in gaming as an independent game developer. She founded her own studio, Giant Spacekat, in the Boston area, and created a well-regarded game, Revolution 60. Like Sarkeesian, Wu was also a target of Gamergate and became famous for her activism. Now, Wu is running for Congress in Massachusetts.
Leena van Deventer, Developer and writer
van Deventer is a respected game designer, storyteller, and journalist who’s based in Melbourne, Australia. She’s well known on her home continent as an advocate for gamers, particularly women gamers. She’s an educator at Melbourne’s RMIT University, where she teaches video game courses, and appears regularly on radio and in print. She’s also a speaker at gaming conferences.
Chelsea Sandy/xMinks, Esports athlete
xMinks is one of the post popular and successful CoD players. She got into competitive gaming full time in 2014. Her YouTube channel had more than 55,000 subscribers as of August 2017, and she’s a fixture on Twitch.
Carol Shaw, Developer
Shaw is credited as the first woman to design and develop a video game. She started working at Atari in the 1970s, after earning degrees in computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. Shaw was the lead designer on 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe, one of the earliest video games.
Elizabeth Sampat, Designer and writer
Sampat is a leading game designer, who’s worked on prominent titles like Kingdom Clash and Ghost Recon: Commander. She’s also an accomplished essayist who writes about gaming culture and gender.
Amrita McBharij, Designer
McBharij is a graphic and UX designer who has contributed to games like the Harry Potter series and The Sims. She’s a graphic design leader in the UK gaming community.
Judy Tyrer, Designer
Tyrer is an engineer and game designer who has worked on the teams that developed titles like Second Life. Now, Tyrer has set out to develop Ever, Jane, an MMORPG that will be based on the writing of Jane Austen.