There was a time in the 1980s when I wanted to spend all my time playing the computer game Lemonade Stand. Y’all, I ran a cutthroat lemonade business, shrewdly setting my prices, making sure to advertise and stockpiling my profits. And there was nothing better than out-gaming the neighborhood boys who thought they were hot stuff.
Even back then, boys often tried to persuade girls we couldn’t be gamers, that computer and arcade games just weren’t for us. What they never expected is that such sentiments only made us buckle down and kick even more gaming butt. Today, when some bro tries to psych you out, turn those lemons into a lemonade stand and prove that, girl, you got game!
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: Nearly Double
When it comes to electronic gaming, girls and boys, women and men have long enjoyed this hobby, and thankfully, the industry is finally reflecting that. Since 2009, the percentage of women in the game-development workforce has nearly doubled. Despite that increase, women still only account for 22 percent of that industry, but I have a feeling women’s presence in gaming will continue to increase. And that’s a winning development, no matter what!
WOMAN TO WATCH: Sheri Graner Ray, CEO and Founder of Zombie Cat Studios
One woman who is really shaking things up as part of that 22 percent is Sheri Graner Ray. A nearly 30-year game-industry veteran, she is the founder and chief gaming officer of the hilariously named Zombie Cat Studios, a computer-game consulting and development studio. And as you may have guessed by her studio’s moniker, Sheri is dead serious about gaming.
Sheri got her start in the gaming world designing computer games way back in 1989, when most of us were still trying to figure out how to get our dang Frogger across the road without a splat. And she’s worked for some of the most notable companies in the video-game business, like EA, Sony Online Entertainment and Cartoon Network.
By the early 1990s, Sheri was an expert in her field, yet one of only a handful of women attending a game-developers conference, where she spoke about women and games only to be met with big-time critiques that our gender just doesn’t play such games. But Sheri knew this idea was completely wrong, and endeavored to bring the important discussion of women and the gaming industry to the forefront.
A longtime advocate for women’s interests in games and women in the gaming workforce, Sheri is a recipient of the International Game Developers Association Award for Community Contribution. She has been called one of the 100 most influential women in the video-game industry and, oh yeah, she also co-founded Women in Games International, which aims to advance women in the gaming industry.
One woman who worked with Sheri describes her as a “legend in gaming, especially for women gamers.” It’s clear Sheri is not only passionate about inclusive game design, but also has the stuff to prove it. She’s a valued public speaker, and revels in informing students in the electronic-gaming realm to be diligent and explore the subject matter and point of view of the games they consume so as not to perpetuate stereotypes about women in gaming.
Maybe you don’t play games or know a dungeon from a dragon, but there’s one thing female non-gamers and gamers alike can agree on: We deserve the right to decide that for ourselves. Thank you, Sheri, for fighting for our rights in the game sphere.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Though they’re designed to be fun, creating games is an art form. I think actor Ossie Davis said it best when he said:
“Any form of art is a form of power. It has impact. It can affect change. It can not only move us; it makes us move.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.