Kim Swift: This Gamer Gives the Best Life Advice

February 21 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: On Being a Woman Online

After years of being a casual gamer of sorts, I can say about half of the messages I receive are flirty (and leaning on somewhat obscene). Another 25 percent of them contains smack-talking, and the remaining 25 percent includes “tips” of how I could improve. Eye roll. In case you’re new to the gaming world, players message you all the time throughout a game. So if a dude were reading this, he might wonder if there’s any right way to communicate.

If I’m killin’ it, message me that I’m killin’ it. That’s simple, right? If you wouldn’t send your message to a random dude, then think twice before you send it to me. What’s your method for dealing with unsolicited interactions with Internet bros?


If I’m being completely candid, I’ve been surprised at how tame the messages I’ve received are overall. I’ve never felt unsafe, Dirty John style. I’m mostly annoyed that a notification pops up while I’m trying to beat the enemy team. I’m recognized as a woman because I am one of a few female characters you can choose from, and my name has the word “lady” in it. These totally non-sexualized characters are a big win for women gamers. When more than a thousand people were surveyed in one study, 66 percent agreed that video games need to include more gender and ethnic diversity.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Kim Swift, Studio Design Director at Electronic Arts Motive

There were so many instances where my bae didn’t realize something was sexist or prohibitive for women until I pointed it out to him. So many dudes out there want to learn, so we women need to be open to sharing what our Internet experience is like.

Kim Swift is one of the women at Electronic Arts (EA) Motive Studios, based in Quebec, and she provides a nuanced approach to the gaming industry as its studio design director. I dare say if you don’t see a female character traipsing after zombies in stilettos and a crop top, you have a woman like Kim to thank.

She’s best known for games like Portal, a puzzle platform game, and Left 4 Dead, a first-person shooter game, at her former company called Valve. Portal earned a Game Developers Choice Award for its spectacular design and innovation. It’s no surprise why, as it’s one of only 14 games selected by the Museum of Modern Art to be housed in the museum’s permanent collection, alongside mega-influencing games like Tetris and Pac-Man.

Kim has been called an “all-star” by her peers, and as a person who starts the ground running with a “hands-on approach.” Her leap to EA follows a secretive few years at Amazon Studios, where she worked on some unannounced projects as senior design manager.

As a general humankind sort-of piece of advice, Kim says to maybe think twice before insulting someone unnecessarily since, you know, they might just be having the worst day ever. It’s solid wisdom coming from a woman who has surely received her fair share of Internet haters and office downtalk. Think about sharing this tip with the next dude who questions why you’re doing a “boy” thing.

Another tidbit that couldn’t be more vital? Kim shares that when she likes a game, she needs to say it publicly. Why? Because doesn’t it feel good when you’re validated by someone who appreciates your work? Take Kim’s lead and compliment another woman’s work. After all, empowered women empower women.


Here’s a quote by a woman who’s known for her revolutionary opinions, Gloria Steinem:

"Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry."

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