On Thursday evening, a group of women in the game industry came together to participate in a roundtable discussion entitled Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History, hosted by Sheri Pocilujko, Incredible Technologies; Clarinda Merripen, Cyberlore; and Ellen Beeman, Monolith. The informal setting allows attendees to voice their concerns, ranging from the need for mentoring to the exaggerated anatomy of Lara Croft.
Emphasizing the need to steer clear from stereotyping female gamers, the attendees began the discussion with an acknowledgement of the variety of women in the industry and the corresponding diversity of games they find appealing.
Barriers. Some participants attributed the dwindling number of veteran women in the industry to the demands of family life. As they reach their mid- or late-thirties, many women who have held important creative and administrative roles are bidding the industry farewell to attend to their families. Others also pointed out common industry practices, such as spontaneous relocation, discourage women from entering or remaining in the industry. Overall the attendees expressed the difficulty of surviving in an industry whose culture is shaped and driven largely by their male counterparts.
Mentoring. The moderators reflected on the importance of mentoring, as an effective method to help young women overcome the intimidating male-dominated environment. To that end, the attendees also expressed a strong desire to see more press coverage of top female executives and luminaries in the industry.
Outreach. Some attendees suggested creating outreach initiatives, targeted at high schools, to make young women become aware of the career opportunities and vocational alternatives available in games.
Type of games. Attendees also examined the type of games that have traditionally alienated women. The moderators clarified it would be incorrect to assume that women do not find action titles enjoyable; rather, it's the inappropriate manner in which they are marketed that often alienate the female audience.
The roundtable emphasized that, to make games for women, publishers do not necessarily need to overlook their core audience--the predominantly male population; they will, however, need to make games that are much more inclusive.