Most inspiring women in gaming
- Murray Robertson
- 5 March 2015
Celebrating International Women’s Day by recognising gaming's pioneers, radicals and role models
This week we're celebrating International Women’s Day by recognising inspiring female role models across the arts world. Here we look at women in gaming – who stands out and why they deserve recognition as we approach IWD 2015...
There's no getting around it: it's been a difficult 12 months for females in gaming. While relatively dormant right now, it's highly unlikely we've seen the back of the notorious Gamergate controversy or some monstrous offshoot. What ostensibly began as a paranoid reaction against a perceived threat to the gamer social identity has descended into a morass of personal abuse, vilification and death threats.
With so many more people getting into gaming, a vocal minority fear their hobby is under threat from a number of fronts, particularly feminism and political correctness. But women have had an enormous impact on the games we play and here we take a look at a few who have helped create some of the most popular games in history.
Hennig initially fostered an interest in filmmaking before realising the potential for storytelling in games. Having worked in the industry since the late 1980s, she became artistic director at Naughty Dog, helming the phenomenally successful Uncharted series for which she won two Writers Guild of America Video Game Writing Awards. She is currently working for EA on an untitled Star Wars game.
Psychology graduate Bradshaw worked on classic LucasArts titles including Monkey Island 2 and The Dig before joining Maxis in 1997. Now the company's senior vice president, Bradshaw is responsible for their most important franchises: SimCity and The Sims, the latter notably boasting a majority of female players. There from the first iteration, Bradshaw recently oversaw the successful launch of The Sims 4, as well as the infamously unsuccessful launch of the new SimCity.
The legendary creator of the King's Quest series, Williams is one of the most influential game designers of all time, and practically created the graphic adventure genre. Together with her husband Ken, she set up Sierra, publisher of phenomenally successful series including Space Quest, Police Quest, SWAT, Leisure Suit Larry and Gabriel Knight. Williams is now semi-retired.
Generally regarded as the first female game designer, Shaw made her first game in 1978 before hitting the big time with 1982's River Raid, a million selling Atari 2600 cartridge which was notably the first game to be banned for children in West Germany. After working on a handful of other projects, Shaw took early retirement in 1990 thanks to its success.
Swift was part of a student team which developed puzzle game Narbacular Drop. When Valve co-founder Gabe Newell saw the game, he hired the team and set them to refine it into what became Portal, often regarded as the greatest game ever made. Swift stayed at Valve to work on Left 4 Dead and its sequel before jumping ship to work on the so-so puzzler Quantum Conundrum. She is now working with Amazon on their internal game studio.