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Women in Games: The Gamasutra 20

May 21, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 12 of 21 Next
 

Jane McGonigal

Researcher, The Institute for the Future

Career overview

Jane McGonigal -- game designer, researcher, and alternate reality game specialist -- is now a "futurist" working on "how the games we play can change the way we experience the real world."

Previously of 42 Entertainment, McGonigal was one of the creative minds behind groundbreaking ARGs like ilovebees. With a PhD from Berkeley in performance studies, McGonigal now focuses on making games that can literally change the world -- for the better -- both by staging ARGs in various communities and by working with think tank Institute for the Future to understand how gaming can impact life to come.

Major accomplishments

McGonigal has been named one of the top 35 innovators changing the world by The MIT Technology Review. The Harvard Business Review called her theory of "alternate reality business" one of the top 20 breakthrough ideas of 2008.

She was been given the Innovation Award from the IGDA, and a Year in Review honors from The New York Times. She has also presented the keynotes at many important media conferences, including this year's SXSW.

Innovation

One of the first designers to work in the field of ARGs, McGonigal has not only been a critical force in the development of the genre, she has also dedicated much time and energy to spreading the word about the power of such games.

What her peers say

Bonnie: "Jane isn't just amazingly creative, she's also bold in all the right ways. She's not shy about explaining that she'll settle for nothing less than a Nobel Prize in game design.

She knows games can make a difference -- that 'reality is broken' and she can fix it -- and she's not willing to take 'Couldn't you settle for something less?' for an answer. To see her in the midst of a game, whether she's discussing a world oil crisis or rolling cookies through foreign cities, even just her energy is inspiring."


Article Start Previous Page 12 of 21 Next

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Comments


Anonymous
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Hey, where is Jade Raymond??!

Anonymous
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she`s number 21

Anonymous
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Color me shocked - Brenda Brathwaite is #2 on the list. I've never heard of any of the titles from her amazing 25-year career. I will credit her that she's amazing at getting her name and SCAD's name on Gamasutra, however. She's got an iron in the fire here every week. She's great as a publicist, but the #2 most influential woman in video games? I'd say that's some PR work.

Rayna Anderson
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Having published AAA games on your resume doesn't make you influential. It's having creative ideas and being able to communicate them clearly, as well being passionate and inspiring, that make a person influential.

Simon Carless
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Anonymous @ 7.28am, we'll stress this again in the intro, but the list is unranked - in the sense that these are equally The Gamasutra 20, there is no '#1'.

Anonymous
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Never heard of her titles? Wizardry. Jagged Alliance. These are foundational game titles. Know your history, dude.

Anonymous
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As a female game designer, it's great to see the recognition of hard working women in such a male dominated industry.



I aspire to be a creative leader like the women in this list.

Art and Design
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I would put our very own Melissa Lee on that list. She is an Executive Producer and owner at Massive Black and has had contributoins over 150 major AAA titles to date, including projects for Blizzard, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, EA, and 18 of the top 20 publishers. She also manages the ConceptArt.Org workshops which have had 150 companies attend and handles operations for the Concept Art Atelier in San Francisco. She keeps a low profile though so I can understand why she would not be listed. However, she is deserving, given what she has accomplished these past five years.

James Hoysa
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how about TV personalities like Morgan Webb?

Anonymous
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James, no they're only covering women that actually make a difference (not because of their gender)



Great list.

Neil Sorens
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Yeah, lots of high-wattage women in the business that never make these kinds of lists. Connie at SCEA, Susan at Activision, Aletheia at Flagship, and so on.

David Paterson
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While it's good to see some recognition of the role of women in the games industry, the list is a little US-centric in my view. Are there no women worthy of consideration for the "top 20" in the UK, Europe or Asia?

Garth DeAngelis
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I'm surprised that Amy Hennig wasn't included. Not only did she create the immense mythology and foundation of the Legacy of Kain and Soul Reaver series, but she's still very influential as a creative lead on Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.

Brandon Sheffield
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Where's Sparky?

http://www.schadenfreudeinteractive.com/

Clearly that's innovation!

Chris Crowell
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With no disrespect to any of the amazing women listed (the ones I know are in fact very inspirational) I want to 'write in' Erin Hoffman, who, writing as EA Spouse, started a revolution in game development and making Quality of Life a phrase that we all know.

Kudo's to the women on the list, as well as those who we admire that didn't make it...this time.

scott jacobson
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And where the frack is Tracy Fullerton?!

http://tracyfullerton.com/bio/

Sarah Thomson
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This is awesome, thank you. As a newbie to gaming I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I am inspired and can only hope to be as great as these ladies. I sure am going to effing try.

John Swisshelm
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Excellent article! - definitely could have been a top 25 or 30 though ;)



I second Tracy Fullerton and add Celia Pearce - they've been positively impacting and challenging game design students for years, with some pretty far-reaching results (ThatGameCompany anyone?)

Malcolm Ryan
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To Anonymous@7:28am,



I think you'll find that the list is in alphabetical order.

Anonymous
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Erin Hoffman is an excellent choice. She is the reason EA is now outsourcing so much of their employment liabilities to EA China. If one cannot get away with such behavior in the states, just move it overseas.

Anonymous
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So what did I learn from this article? That if you're a woman your options are very much pushed outside of game development. No list of the men of games would be about marking directors, producers, presidents and executive producers. :-(



Think about, would any list of women or men in the movies be about those types? No, it would be about directors, actors, maybe writers. Would a men or women of fiction be about producers, marking directors? No, it would be about authors. Would a list of men or women in music be about the those guys? No, it would be about musicians, songwriters, and band members.

Anonymous
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To be honest this article has a major flaw in that it seems to be US based. Maybe rename it to American Women in Games? Or The Gamasutra 20 (US)? As a result, it does seem that there's a lot of filler. Do some more international research and the article would benefit greatly.

Anonymous
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I feel sorry for the other 6 members of the Narbacular Drop team who will always play second fiddle to Kim Swift simply because they're male. Doesn't seem fair.

Alex Greenwood
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Kind of expected Dani Bunten Berry to be there too, having won a lifetime achievement award and Will Wright dedicating The Sims to her.

Stephen Goss
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Where oh where is Amy Hennig in this list (Soul Reaver, Legacy of Kain, Drake's fortune)? She is one of the best Creative Directors in our industry...

Anonymous
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Where is Stevie Case? Her boobs speak volumes!

Shawn Williams
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I really enjoyed this article; many of these people I'd never heard of and it was an interesting read to learn of their accomplishments.



Having said that, though, I'll be another griper and add I'm disappointed Sanya Thomas (nee Weathers) didn't show up on the list. Sanya defined the role of community relations for MMORPGs and championed the concept of true customer service/relations.

Audry Taylor
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Now that's a list of mentors worth having! I hope this list gets displayed in game and tech oriented classrooms! I myself am planning to share it with my network of librarians, teachers, and authors in the hopes of encouraging the youth they reach to join our industry.

Anonymous
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While I think it's great that women developers are getting recognition, I am sad that Gamasutra is stooping to Top 20 lists. Isn't there a less sensational and competitive way to highlight these and other women's achievements and contributions?

Anonymous
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I am "Anonymous at 7:28" -- I recognize that I missed that this list is in alphabetical order (and feel appropriately stupid on that account). I may also not know my "ancient" history of video games... but really. If YOU were composing a Top 20 of anything, wouldn't you exclude yourself out of humility? Why is Brenda Brathwaite on a nominating committee for making this list and she puts herself on it? For all of these great suggestions of why was left off, why would any rational person include herself? It's pure egomania.



Anonymous at 4:01 from SCAD, I think you and I are the only ones getting the joke here.

Kathy Astromoff
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Hey y'all. Top 20 lists are imperfect (!) but the community voice lives on. Would rather see suggestions for an additional 50 women to list - rather than slagging on those listed.



Peace.

Casey Layton
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Um, let me make this clear to everyone. The article on Robin Hunicke is severly FLAWED. First of all, everyone in the Sims Dept. knows that EMMY TOYONAGA was the one who invented the mySims style look. Emmy is the Lead Character Artist for MySims and is the one who first established the unique style and look of the game--NOT ROBIN!!



Also she is NOT the lead on Boom Blox.

Laura Smith
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I would like to see Auriea Harvey on the list. Not a major studio head but passionate about making innovative independent games.

Ernest Adams
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Anonymous at 4:01 am is a gutless coward. If you're going to slam someone with vague, unsubstantiated allegations, the least you can do is have the courage to use your real name when you do it.



I'm not qualified to comment on Brenda's teaching, not having taken her classes, but I have nothing but contempt for anonymous character assassination.

Coray Seifert
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First, I have to say that my experiences with Brenda on the IGDA board of directors has been nothing but 100% positive. She is a great person to work with and I find some of the posts on this response thread just plain bizarre.



Second, I'd like to second the nomination for Erin Hoffman on this list. She changed our industry for the better on a very tangible, functional level.



Finally, how about Wendy Despain, the chair of the IGDA Game Writers SIG and the editor of our most recent book? If outstanding writers like Susan O'Conner are on this list, why not the voice of the video game writers? Three cheers for Wendy!!

Anonymous
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I think everyone who has complained about this list is correct in the fact that this list is basically a pat on the back to anyone who is heavily associated with the IGDA.



Some of the facts are accurate, while some of them are suspect (Robin as one example). While no list is perfect, you have to admit this list leans a lot to the IGDA favored.

Anonymous
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Many times the most popular people we know are not the ones who deserve the recognition. This works for both, women and men.



Today is quite hard that people who really push the boundaries of the art of the games get the recognition about their effort, because the companies are trying to hide the team in a way that the consumers only can associate the success of the product with a whole company instead of a group of talented people.

That's why usually we associate to the producers the most influential part of the progress in videogames, because they are the face of the company.

This way of thinking is extremely dangerous for the long term because talented individuals finally become disappointed and left the field of gaming.

I don't try to generalize, and obviously the producer is the one of the essentials keys for the success of the product, but the problem is that I've seen too much horror stories about groups of extraordinary talented people who has saved the producers' ass by working like slaves during months without resting only because some producers don't like to plan, organize, or trust in the team to manage the tasks.



Concluding, stop making this kind of lists for women and men, or at least, let the people suggest who has been the most influential people of the medium, maybe there is a chance to recover talented people who left the industry burnt.

Kat Black
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Robin Hunicke spoke at a Digital Content Festival I ran in Australia and I think she deserves completely to be on the list. Her talk was fascinating, and she ran way over time due to so many questions from the audience and her generosity in answering them properly - not glib one-liners but really useful and practical information. When she really had to leave as the venue needed to be closed, a crowd of at least 30 dedicated audience members huddled around her outside the building still firing questions at her. She is an incredibly intelligent, pragmatic and inclusive person and a real asset to the future of the games industry. In particular, her ability to inspire more young women to enter the industry is invaluable.

Anonymous
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I'm really disappointed that there are no engineers in this list- you've covered production, marketing, design and art.

Anonymous
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While I can't say whether or not Robin Hunicke deserves to be on this list or not, I can confirm that she was not the lead designer on Boom Blox (she got there just as the project was finalling) and that she did not design the characters of My Sims. This is not to de-fame her, this is the truth. It's important for articles like this to be accurate because now I'm not sure if I can trust any details about what is said about the people in these articles.

Anonymous
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I find it strange that women who most definitely have all the right to be on this list are being spiced up with some "added credentials" - credentials that aren't needed because their other works speak volumes.



Another fine addtion to the list would have been Sherry McKenna, Co-Founder of Oddworld Inhabitants.

Anonymous
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I haven't worked with anyone on this list...but I have to say that it's nice to see recognition for women in the industry.



Here's my Top 5 women that I've worked with that make an impact or who are influential (in no particular order of course):



Lorena Villa - THQ QA manager

Eve Waldman - THQ Sr. Manager, HR

Briana Covill - Incinerator, Associate Producer

Kim Marlis - Associate Project manager at Snowblind Studios

Carole Lin - Localization Producer at Heavy Iron



Also I'd say that I think that Morgan Webb has a pretty big impact / influence on the industry (for better or worse I'm afraid).

Andrew Kaplan
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Did I miss something?



Samantha Ryan Senior Vice President, Development & Production, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment



Samantha has more chops than all 20 of them combined! That's a pretty big gaffe overlooking her...

Ernest Adams
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Another suggestion for an addition to the list would be Mary Margaret Walker. She's not a game developer, marketer, or publishing executive, but her influence can be felt throughout the industry: she's a recruiter. She finds good people for companies that need them, with integrity and class, and has done for many years.

Kat Black
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Funnily enough, Anonymous, Robin had corrected the facts (and credited other people, such as Emmy Toyonaga) at her blog before your whinge about her: http://www.cs.northwestern.edu/~hunicke/blog/

Michael Black
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Not a single programmer on the list. Fail.

Anonymous
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This list is just bs. It's more about who you knows than about your real talent or competence.



I worked with Heater Kelley and she is the worst colleague I've ever had. No discipline, no ideas, no structure, no serious at all. The thing that was the most important for her was her Linkedin.



I assisted to a conference with Braithwaite and it was dull.



Ernest Adams is really bad as well.



So stop your stupid lists and get a real job!

Anonymous
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Anonymous at 1:25, please read up on how to go about writing constructive criticism, its never enough to say that somthing isn't good enough, you need to suggest how improvements can be made if you ever hope to see things change for the better (Failing that, I must assume its personal opinion, in which case I have to apply the one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter rule).

I'd hate to have to start using the word "trolling" on this comments system.

Anonymous
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Dear Kat,



I'm glad that Robin had enough integrity to correct those mistakes. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

James West
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Now letís have an arbitrary list of the top 20 men in games

Top 20 of industry professionals of a racial minority

20 most successful dyslexics in games



If lists such as these are composed can we not purely categorise them by skill?



Top 20 games designers

Top 20 programmers

20 most creative professionals in games

Ian Schreiber
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@Anonymous 5/21 9:53pm:

"So what did I learn from this article? That if you're a woman your options are very much pushed outside of game development."



Excuse me? There were a number of female designers and even a writer on the list. They count as game developers too!



If you meant game *programmers*... well, even on lists of male developers, you find relatively few "influential" programmers (a few, but not many compared to designers or producers). This is more a function of the programming role not lending itself well to high influence, than any bias against female programmers, I'd suspect.



@Anonymous 5/22 4:01pm:

"Sadly to say, I believe [Brenda Brathwaite] started teaching because she is getting too old for the game industry and feels the need to be around college fan boys to boost her ego."



Notwithstanding the fact that she spends more hours doing industry contract work than teaching nowadays. Honestly, sounds like someone took their bitter pills that morning.



@Alex Greenwood:

"Kind of expected Dani Bunten Berry to be there too"



And Roberta Williams, except that this is a list of women working in the industry *today*.



@Anonymous 5/22 1:22pm (formerly known as Anonymous at 7:28)



"If YOU were composing a Top 20 of anything, wouldn't you exclude yourself out of humility?"



The same is true of Sheri, so why single out Brenda? Anyway, the article was clear up front about both Brenda and Sheri being nominated for the list by others. It didn't say one way or the other whether either of them was part of the nomination panel (or how many other people picked for the list were on said panel), but it was clear that they were contributing to this article only in the capacity of providing color commentary.



@Anonymous 5/26 1:25pm:



"Ernest Adams is really bad as well."



I wasn't aware he was in the list of top 20 women. Where did this come from? Honestly, the more I read the comments here, the more bizarre the accusations seem to become.



@James West:



"Now letís have an arbitrary list of the top 20 men in games

Top 20 of industry professionals of a racial minority

20 most successful dyslexics in games"



The point here (to me, at least) is to showcase that, while definitely skewed towards white/male/straight, the game industry does have influential people that are not white/male/straight. Top 20 men wouldn't demonstrate that. Top 20 racial minorities would, and I would actually love to see a list along those lines (I'll also add top 20 GLBT for good measure). Dyslexics... not really a minority in this sense.

Anonymous
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I would like to put in Mary Flanagan as another possible candidate. Her work with "games as art" and her recent venture into values in gaming are very innovative in my humble opinion



@Anonymous:22 May 2008 at 4:01



"Most of the Game Design major at SCAD is very unhappy that she has been promoted to Chair of the Major."



I'm not sure who you are, but as a 2008 Graduate of the SCAD ITGM program, I find your post full of, well, bullshit, whining and falsehoods. Your "analysis" of Brenda couldn't be farther from the truth. Most students, from my experience, are happy with Prof. Brathwaite's presence at SCAD and her efforts to shape the program from a focus on content creation to design. Please do not speak for a group of people that you do not represent, or if you do, please have some level of competence in your writing abilities at the least.



Ernest Adams was right. You are a gutless coward and your flagrant idiocy is evident in your posts.

Anonymous
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re: above... probably he's a student who did poorly in one of her classes. I wouldn't get too offended. seems pretty clear he's just bitter.



I was going to second (or third) Dani Berry until Ian mentioned what I overlooked -- that this list is limited to present-day developers. No biggie tho, she's been on plenty of other lists and she has the lifelong respect of the people who matter. I read somewhere that Will Wright dedicated The Sims to her.

David McDonough
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I don't know how you can claim some of these aren't influential. I mean, like Brenda and Heather both blazed trails into topics that games have been afraid to touch. Movies and books have no problem showing or discussing sex, so why should games? I think it's really important work they've done and they deserve their place.

Anonymous
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Was the cheesecake-style photo of Susan O'Connor really necessary? It just struck me as really inappropriate for a piece about professional influence. You wouldn't pose Wright or Molyneux like that, would you?

Kim Marlis
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Thanks Anonymous at 5:39pm on May 23rd.

Aaron Murray
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I had the pleasure of meeting Sheri Graner Ray today at the Independent Game Conference in Austin, and she was just wonderful to listen to and talk with.



I hope that our industry recognizes the unique and valuable perspective women bring to games.


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