PAX Panel: Girls, Games, and the Growing Role of Women in the Game Industry

Really quickly before I head out (late).

Each panelist was instructed to introduce themselves, how they got into games, and how they got into the industry. The moderator was Trixie from Xbox.com. Apparently her reputation precedes her and she doesn’t need to be introduced with a last name. The panelists were Jane Pinckard from CMP (the company that runs the Game Developers Conference), Morgan Romine from Ubisoft (also Team Captain of the US Frag Dolls), and Theresa Pudenz from Flying Lab Software (also an ex-Frag Doll).

Most of them gave similar stories re: getting into gaming. They got into games at a young age, some kept up with it, others weren’t hardcore until later in life. Romne and Pinckard got into the industry in unorthodox ways. Romine bugged Ubisoft for a job until they let her in, and they then tried to figure out what to do with her. The Frag Dolls was the result. Pinckard blogged (yay!) about games and was a freelance game writer for 1UP.com and GamePro. Then the CMP job came up, and she is now doing conference management. Pudenz worked a variety of industry jobs before landing at Flying Lab.

  • The panel discussed the issues related to women and games that people are probably very familiar with:
  • Number of women in the tech industry
  • Number of women studying science degrees
  • Whether women are necessarily pre-disposed to business, public relations, and marketing because there are relatively more women working in these fields in the industry than men
  • Game content and how women are portrayed
  • Game culture and how unwelcoming it is not only to women, but homosexual people, the disabled, and people of colour

The questions from the audience were along the lines of what they discussed in the panel. One guy worked at a game store and wondered what kind of games to suggest for girls. A couple of people asked about the game content and portrayal of women topic. A woman programmer asked about what could be done about women in the tech industry.

Unfortunately, I was not able to ask my question, which would have been on the topic of game culture. Romine had covered how unwelcoming it was for women to get on Xbox Live and play online matches because the culture there, and on the internet (she does community relations for Ubisoft) is so “unfriendly to women”. I was going to ask how the men gamers (and there were a lot of men in the audience as well) could be more welcoming to women gamers. Alas, no time for my question. I know some of the answers of course, but I just wanted to hear the panelists’ opinions and possibly get some of the people in the audience to consider them.

All of the women raised good points, and Pinckard in particular was insightful. It was she who said that gaming culture is not just unwelcoming to women, but to homosexuals and people of colour.

EDIT: Fixed spelling error. Sorry, Theresa!

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