With Thanksgiving around the corner, I decided to take some time to reflect on what I am thankful for this year. And, like every year, video games are one of the top ten things I’m thankful for. I’ve been gaming for twenty-two joy-filled years, but it did not occur to me until about four years ago that I could actually take a more active role in my passion.
Considering this was the year I finally wrote for a game, I decided to share some of the women in game development who served as inspiration to me along the way.
Here are five game developers that I am thankful for.
- Carol Shaw
Considered the first female video game designer, Carol Shaw is known for River Raid, a well-regarded game for the Atari 2600. She studied electrical engineering and computer science back in the 70s and completed her masters in Computer Science at Berkeley. She worked at Atari and Activision before retiring.
I’m thankful for Carol Shaw because whenever some whiner tries to complain that women are trying to get all up in “men’s” video games, I can point to her, as well as Roberta Williams, Jane Jensen, Brenda Romero and Lori Ann Cole.
We’ve been here the whole time fellas!
- Amy Hennig
Amy Hennig is a video game director and scriptwriter, who has worked on games such as Jak 3, the Legacy of Kain series and the Uncharted series. She began her career at Nintendo, later moving to EA, Naughty Dog and then back to the EA banner as a part of Visceral Games.
I’m thankful for Amy Hennig because she believes that good writing should drive the creative vision of the game, and that games should not just rely on amazing graphics to sell. And no one can argue that her methods didn’t work, as each of the three series she’s best known for are highly regarded for their story. It seems that more companies are following suit, with the Rhianna Pratchett led Tomb Raider coming easily to mind.
- Tracy Fullerton
With more titles than you can shake a stick at, Tracy Fullerton is a game designer, an associate professor, Chair of the USC Interactive Media & Games Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts and Director of the Game Innovation Lab at USC. She was the faculty advisor for Cloud (which Kellee Santiago worked on) and flOw, created by the group of students who would go on to form thatgamecompany. She is also creating her own game Walden, a game, which I saw at IndieCade.
I’m thankful for Tracy Fullerton because she helped to mentor many up-and-coming game designers, and because Walden, a game, reminded me to seek inspiration in unique ways. Fullerton is always seeking to push the boundaries of play and in doing so is inspiring the next generation of game designers.
- Lisette Titre-Montgomery
Lisette Titre-Montgomery is an art manager at Ubisoft. She has worked on games such as Dante’s Inferno, Dance Central 3 and the Sims 4. She has also been a speaker for Black Girls Code and Girls Who Code. She’s currently working on an upcoming South Park game, The Fractured But Whole.
I’m thankful for Lisette Titre-Montgomery because she is an advocate for diversity in the games industry. Black Girls Code is an organization that is close to my heart (though sadly I live in the wrong city for mentorship) and the fact that she believes we should show young black boys and girls that the gaming industry is for them means the world to me.
- Liz M.E. Chung
With many prestigious titles under her belt, Liz M.E. Chung is a game designer at Bungie. She was a lead game designer on Destiny and her previous shipped games include Halo 4, BioShock 2, and Tomb Raider. Chung also has a passion for eSports, and was the community director for CPL, The Cyberathlete Professional League.
I’m thankful for Liz M.E. Chung because she retweeted my Destiny article. I kid, I kid. All jokes aside, I love that the team at Bungie is putting effort into making diversity and representation “the norm” in their games.
Those are just a few of the female game developers who have inspired me in some way this year. I hope that you, too can find your inspiration to jump into the gaming industry and to make some games. Please also share on Facebook and Twitter some other awesome devs we should all check out!