Tech

8 Female Game Designers To Follow Now

These developers are striving to disrupt the status quo in their male-dominated industry.

Young Women Gamer
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The gaming industry is one of the UK’s fastest-growing sectors, with revenues growing from £747 million to £907 million between 2018 and 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, gaming played an even more important role in people’s everyday lives, with games such as Animal Crossing offering the sense of escapism we all craved and sales of PS5 breaking all kinds of records.

While the stats around sales are all positive, the facts behind the scenes paint a more disappointing picture. According to a 2020 census conducted by the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (ukie), women make up only 28% of the game development workforce – a number that is significantly below the national average. Despite the fact that women make up a significant portion of players, they remain largely absent when it comes to the games’ creation and design.

As ukie notes, “the sector will need to build both short- and long-term strategies that help support and develop existing talent,” as well as implementing “a wide range of initiatives” to encourage future generations of female and non-binary gamers to join the industry.

This is why it’s important to highlight the women making strides in this field and inspiring others through their imaginative and meaningful creations that are integral to diversifying the game industry as a whole.

Below are just a handful of female game developers who are striving to make that change.

Dani Lalonders

Dani Lalonders is a Chicago-based game developer who recently released her first game ValiDate: Struggling Singles in Your Area. The game is a visual novel that allows gamers to follow the stories of 12 playable characters as they navigate their twenties, experiencing “hints of love, cosplay, and even mediocre mixtapes” as Lalonders describes.

Lalonders is also the CEO of Veritable Joy Studios, which aims “to tell diverse stories from perspectives that are often ignored and silenced.”

Follow Lalonders on Twitter @danulmao and Instagram @dani.lmao

Robin Hunicke

A professor in game design, Robin Hunicke has worked on major releases like MySims and The Sims 2. Hunicke is currently developing three projects at her game studio Funomena, including an AR project for Google titled Woorld.

Hunicke teaches at the University of California, where she has been working to “develop and promote undergraduate and graduate education that explores games as a medium of critical, social and expressive artistic practice.”

Follow Hunicke on Twitter @hunicke and Instagram @hunicke

Amber-Leigh Blake

Amber-Leigh Blake is a narrative designer and game writer and a game design student at the University of East London. Blake has been the author and narrative designer on three projects, including the game Anamnesis, which she also provided a voiceover for.

Blake is the co-founder of Game Dev Roller Club, a skating club for game developers to help them connect from across the world.

Follow Blake on Twitter @A_through_L

Tracy Fullerton

Tracy Fullerton is an experimental game designer, professor, and author. Fullerton is the director of the University of Southern California Game programme, which offers four degrees in areas of game design and development, as well as career and internship opportunities for those looking for a career in the video game sphere.

Fullerton has also produced several independent games through her research centre, the Game Innovation Lab, including Cloud, Darfur is Dying, The Night Journey, and flOw.

Follow Fullerton on Twitter @kinojabber and Instagram @kinojabber

Christina ‘Phazero’ Curlee

Christina ‘Phazero’ Curlee is a game designer and researcher based in Los Angeles, who began her career by self-teaching in 3D art and programming. Curlee’s work has been showcased at several exhibitions including the Game Art Festival in LA and the Indiecade Festival.

Curlee is currently working on the highly-anticipated Triple-A game Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart for PS5 with developer Insomniac Games. Curlee also created Game Design... The Game (?) which is exactly what it says in the title – a game about building and making games.

Follow Curlee on Twitter @phazero and Instagram @phazero

Brenda Romero

Brenda Romero is a BAFTA-award-winning game designer, scholar, artist, and writer who started her career in the industry in 1981. Romero is behind The Mechanic is the Message, an analogue series involving interactive physical games that “experiment with the traditional notion of the word ‘game.’”

During the course of her career, Romero has worked with Atari, Electronic Arts, and is currently the co-founder of the Irish-based independent studio Romero Games.

Follow Romero on Twitter @br and Instagram @blromero66

Claire Morwood

Claire Morwood is a game designer, programmer, and artist who is currently working on her own game Before I Forget developed by her studio 3-Fold Games. Described as a “narrative exploration.” Before I Forget focuses on a female protagonist who is living with early-onset dementia.

Morwood is also a resident at Pervasive Media Studio and part of a project called You Make The Rules – an event that provides “a space for making (doing) seeing art and code.”

Follow Morwood on Twitter @shimmerwitch

Lisette Titre

Lisette Titre is a gaming art director and has worked on major titles including The Sims 4 and Dante’s Inferno, as well as game adaptations of animated series like The Simpsons and South Park. Titre has over 17 years of experience within the industry, and has long been an advocate for video games being a gateway into STEM industries for young people.

She is currently working on Psychonauts 2 with Double Fine Productions, a sequel to the 2005 platforming game.

Follow Titre on @zette16 and Instagram @zette16