You might not know their names, but avid indie gamers definitely know their games. Women in the video game industry are often overlooked and under-appreciated for their contributions to gaming. So today, we’re spotlighting four kick-ass women in game dev whose names you should know and games you should play.
Robin Hunicke is the producer behind the gorgeous work of art that is Journey, a game where you awake alone in the middle of a sprawling desert with nothing as far as the eye can see, save for a towering mountain in the distance. As you journey (heh, get it) across the desert you will meet other passing travelers on their own journeys and unravel the mysteries of a long forgotten civilization. Journey was named Game of the Year by Entertainment Weekly, Joystiq, Kill Screen, and PlayStation Life Style to name just a few, as well as receiving a number of awards for innovation and art design.
Karla Zimonja is one of the three founders of Fullbright, an indie game dev company best known for their award winning debut game: Gone Home. Gone Home is a horror-esque story-based game that was named Polygon’s 2013 Game of the Year and the 2013 BAFTA’s Best Debut Game. In addition to being a Fullbright founder, Zimonja was also the co-creator, co-writer, and artist for the game.
Zimonja is still with Fullbright and is currently hard at work on Tacoma, a game where players explore a seemingly abandoned space station after something has apparently gone terribly wrong. It appears to be similar to Gone Home in that the player needs to piece together what happened, but instead of finding letters, you rewind memory recordings around the ship. Tacoma is scheduled for release sometime in 2017.
Next up we have Brianna Wu, who co-founded Giant Spacekat in 2009. Wu and her team are focused on creative narrative driven mobile games on Unreal engine. The studio’s first game, Revolution 60, puts badass women at the forefront of an ambitious sci-fi experience. It won a number of awards, including game of the year, and continues to be recognized for innovation in mobile gaming.
Wu is also a prominent advocate for women in tech, known for being vocal about discrimination, particularly within the video game industry. She has recently taken her political advocacy to a whole new level by announcing that she is running for Congress in 2018.
Last, but certainly not least, is Kim Swift. You’d be hard-pressed to find a gamer who isn’t at least familiar with her work: Swift is the brilliant game designer behind the classic indie titles Portal and Left 4 Dead. Portal in particular has been recognized as a game changer within the video game industry and remains a popular favorite even a decade after its release. It was even one of 14 games chosen by the Museum of Modern Art to be included in their permanent collection.
As a result of her work on Portal, Kim Swift was named one of Forbes “30 Under 30” in the gaming industry in 2013, and she remains a highly sought after talent. Swift left Valve in 2009 to join Airtight Games where she led the dev team behind Quantum Conundrum. In 2014, after Airtight Games closed, Swift announced she was acting as lead designer for an “undisclosed project” at Amazon’s internal studio. Most recently, in January 2017 Electronic Arts announced Swift had joined their Motive Studios as a design director for an upcoming project.
These are far from being the only women doing amazing things in the gaming industry, so please shout out your favorite women in game dev in the comments! Who would you add to the list?
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