The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and Red Bull Media House have partnered to launch “We Are,” an initiative focused on providing support and resources for women in the world of video games. The aim is to give a voice to female gamers and to inspire new talent to get involved at every level of the industry. In addition to the launch of a new website, WeAreVideoGames.org, “We Are” will also have a significant presence at E3 this upcoming week. The booth will be hosted by notable women from around the industry, and will include a photo exhibition, merchandise, an arcade, and more.
The ESA Foundation provides grants to to those advancing interactive technology in an innovative and charitable way. The foundation has previously supported popular organizations such as Extra Life and Girlstart. In regards to this latest initiative, Anastasia Staten, executive director of the ESA Foundation, stated:
Inspiring new female voices and talent to join the video game industry begins with showcasing the legacy of women and the impact they continue to have on video games. Only 21 percent of game developers are women, but their contributions to video games are immeasurable. This initiative is about showing the next generation the difference they can make and guiding them on the path to make it happen.
With the backing of two major organizations behind them, “We Are” hopes to increase the presence and influence of women within the industry. Fortunately, they have a rich pedigree and a wealth of talent that can help lead the charge.
An exciting new platform for female gamers
Despite the recent announcement, “We Are” was actually formed early last year. The organization was originally established as a traveling photo gallery, whose photos are now visible on the WeAreVideoGames website. Obtained by visiting conventions, these galleries highlight the female perspective of the industry. The website is now expanding to feature additional content, including the stories of individual women who are striving to make a difference. One particular story of note is of Robin Hunicke, one of the visionaries behind Journey.
Although Staten claims that only 21% of developers are women, her website acknowledges that women make up 45% of gamers in the United States. Through their efforts, the organization hopes to encourage and empower young women, as well as women already in the industry, to strive for further greatness. Video games have long been seen as a “boy’s club,” with female gamers treated as an anomaly, but it is the voices of people like Staten, developers like Liz Fiacco, and players like Eunice Chen, that exemplify the turning tide. Unfortunately, it’s an uphill battle. Though female players have garnered attention with live streaming, and female creative leads are responsible for some of the most influential games in the industry, one look at professional teams shows a stark disparity in gender distribution.
Who “We Are” and who will be at E3
Numerous prominent members of the organization will be present at E3, providing a variety of education and entertainment. From developers and artists to professional players and commentators, there’s something for everyone. Clearly, the initiative wants to show attendees that there is no limit to what women can do. Fortunately, they have an all-star ensemble leading by example.
Tuesday, June 12
4:00 p.m.: Journeys into Games
- Kiki Wolfkill, 343 Industries
- Liz Fiacco, Naughty Dog
- Mairin Wilson, Facebook
- Rachel Weber, GamesRadar+ (Moderator)
Wednesday, June 13
12:30 p.m.: The World of Esports
- Emily Chow, ESL Gaming
- Eunice Chen, Cloud9
- Samantha “Persia” Hancock, Commentator
- Victoria “VikkiKitty” Perez, Commentator
- Zorine Te, Content Creator (Moderator)
1:30 p.m.: Small Studios, Big Ideas
- Caryl Shaw, Double Fine
- Siobhan Reddy, Media Molecule
- Robin Hunicke, Funomena
- Kelly Wallick, IGF/Indie Megabooth (Moderator)
3:30 p.m.: Content Creators Talk Games
- Mari Takahashi, Smosh Games
- Meghan Camarena, Strawberry17
- Sonja Reid, OMGitsfirefoxx
- Anne Lewis, Bethesda (Moderator)
Thursday, June 14
11:00 a.m.: Voice Acting and Performance Capture
- Janina Gavankar, Actress
- Sydnee Goodman, IGN
2:00 p.m.: Live Art Studio with Kelly Toki
As stated earlier, the female demographic only constitutes 21% of the game developer industry. However, the talent present is a definitive example of quality over quantity. It’ll be interesting to hear the perspectives of some of the more prominent names involved, especially in regards to the infleunce they have over their respective games’ development. With Liz Fiacco and Siobhan Reddy especially working on high-profile projects, this is a fascinating time for the initiative to shine light on their unique perspectives. Hopefully, the effort behind the We Are initiative will lead to an increase in both — we are certainly looking forward to seeing what happens next.