FIRST THOUGHT: Wild for Gaming
When we think of video games, pre-teen boys holed up in the basement chugging Mountain Dew and scarfing down Cheetos may come to mind. You ain’t wrong. But we know now that women are serious gamers, too. If you think gaming is just for fun, think again. I know firsthand the power of using this activity to work through some serious stuff. One guy shared how his PlayStation helped him through long days in a hospice, how the game’s storyline about despair helped him navigate the murky waters of grief. Don’t underestimate what someone loves; don’t judge how a person spends her time. Like Mario Brothers, there are always secret, hidden doors and passageways just waiting to be discovermnb
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 44
Now, this fact shook me, y’all. Guess how old the average woman who plays video games is? I would’ve guessed maybe 18. Sound about right? Wrong. The average age is 44 years old. That means women like Sofia Vergara and Nicole Kidman could be knocking back a few while squashing their enemies and earning tokens in games. I can just imagine women this age who grew up in the 70s, kicking butt at their local arcade, beating an embarrassed Bobby at the game “Pong.”
WOMAN TO WATCH: Siobhan Reddy, Studio Director of Media Molecule
I can always, always tell if a woman is behind a video game or not (like, if a woman were ever involved at any stage of development.) An obvious giveaway a woman isn’t involved in the game production process is if the uber-masculine hero sacrifices all the women in a village, or something like that. That’s why it’s crucial to tell the stories of women who are involved in this increasingly popular industry, like Siobhan Reddy.
She’s the studio director of a video game development studio based in the United Kingdom called Media Molecule. The studio is the visionary behind the successful PlayStation game called LittleBigPlanet and LittleBigPlanet2. These games alone are ranked by Metacritic in the 90s, making them well-loved by players and critics alike.
If you’re still not convinced that video games are a key part of our culture, let me convince you: Siobhan is considered a member of the top 100 most powerful women in Britain. That’s right: She’s a stone throw away from the Queen and J. K. Rowling. Not a shabby spot, I’d say.
Siobhan left her home country of Australia for the UK when she became an adult and rapidly called the gaming space her home. She started as a production assistant and dabbled in a couple gaming companies before co-founding Media Molecule. She’s so over the stereotype that games are for boys or nerds.
This revolutionary woman plays games outside of her job, too, particularly scary ones with her lights turned off and in between snacks of Isle of Wight runny blue cheese. When Siobhan spoke at the Nordic Game Conference, she acknowledged what so many developers are consumed by: the pressure to produce more, and more, and more content.
I appreciate her candor at the conference, where she admits that some days, she feels like queen of the world, but most of the time, she’s just riding a “rollercoaster.” Siobhan calls these fluctuating feelings “Glitter and Doom.” One moment, you’re sparkly and perfect; the next, you’re flying off the rails.
So many creatives will understand this dichotomy between expressing your artistic, beautiful side to create incredible things while also trying to, you know, make money off of those things. Siobhan battles this every day as she attempts to balance self-expression and commercialization. She says she’s thankful for this time period because two decades ago, those in the gaming industry couldn’t fathom the term “work-life balance.” Now, they’re beginning to understand balance is a priority if you want to produce quality games for men—and women—to enjoy. After all, if you want to make amazing games that depict amazing women, you’ve got to take care of yourself and become an amazing woman yourself.
QUITE THE QUOTE
I absolutely love this quote by Siobhan Reddy:
"It's important that we are aware of what our people are giving, so that we don't burn out our best and brightest."