Women Growing in Video Games as Consumers, Designers

Students waiting for the gaming conference to begin.
Students waiting for the gaming conference to begin.
Speakers at the conference discuss a variety of topics in the gaming industry.
Speakers at the conference discuss a variety of topics in the gaming industry.

The Savannah College of Art and Design is holding a gaming conference today in association with Women in Games International on "Advancing Your Career in Game Development."

While the conference is designed to teach students resume, networking and production skills, it's geared toward showing women how to break in to a seemingly male-dominated industry.

If you were to associate gaming with a specific gender, most people would say male. But the fact is, women are gamers just as much as men. According to WomenGamers.com, 38 percent of all gamers are women (ESA game industry report, 2006).

That number is growing, and so is the need for women to develop and produce games for a more diversified market.

Gano Haine, vice president of product development at LimeLife, a wireless software company, is speaking at today's conference. Haine has been in the gaming industry since the late 1980s and told us, "The future of gaming has become more than it was ten years ago. It's the best it's ever been."

Gaming has come a long way in the past few decades, but it's the more recent generations of games, systems and technology that have really made the industry grow, and that growth includes the number of women gamers.

According to WomenGamers.com, 76 percent of women who participated in a study said they play casual games during their leisure time (Information Solutions Group, 2006). WomenGamers.com also cited that middle-aged women are more likely to be heavy gamers over teenage boys (Ziff Davis Game Group, 2006).

Because an increased number of women are looking at games as a source of entertainment, the industry is in need of more women producing games for that developing female market.

Joanna Gibson, a game and art design student at Westwood College Online, came to the conference to learn how to break in to the industry. "I want to learn about networking mostly," she said. "It's hard to find people in the gaming industry."

Networking, industry leaders say, is one of the best ways to get in the door at gaming and software companies, but it can be tricky. "Introduce yourself without being a pest," Haine advised.

Also, learn the terms and understand how the industry works, says Brenda Brathwaite, game designer and consultant and professor at SCAD.

But in a competitive field, it's hard for newcomers to stand out. Marc Mencher, president of GameRecruiter.com, says just being a woman gives you an edge. "Companies realize it's a male-dominated industry, so just being a female gives you bonus points," he said.

Braithwaite hopes the conference will encourage women to get into gaming as industry leaders continue to learn "how to attract a more diverse market with games that work with women."

The conference runs today from 1pm to 7:30pm at the River Club, 3 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Registration for students and SCAD alumni is $20, and general registration is $50.

Registration also includes SCAD's annual Game Developers eXchange conference. This event will be held Friday, April 27, from 9am to 4:45pm, at the Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton Street as a chance for game development experts to share their secrets and knowledge about the gaming industry.

For more information about the conferences or how to register, visit: http://www.scad.edu/events/gdx/2007/.

Reported by: Sarah Schuster, sschuster@wtoc.com