Celebrating Women in Gaming
Click the map below to discover powerful women who are moving the needle in the gaming industry.
The pensioners proving that age really is just a number.
- Age: 82
- Favourite Game: Skyrim
At 82-years-old, Shirley Curry is not your typical YouTube star. But with over 450,000 subscribers, she's most definitely a high level YouTuber with her gaming YouTube channel, getting thousands of views, comments, and even physical fan mail!
"It was like being in a movie and I could do whatever I wanted to, go wherever I wanted to. I just fell in love with it."
Grandma Shirley, as most of her followers call her, is a proud gamer. She started out playing Civilization 2 before discovering Skyrim, her favourite game . When friends asked her to record her gameplay, she obliged and became an instant sensation.
Her videos aren't as exciting as other gaming channels. She doesn't scream or make ridiculous noises or add tons of extra effects. Instead, she's calm and sweet, enjoying her adventure. It's a refreshing change on YouTube and has brought her continued success as she does her gaming videos, vlogs and meet ups.
She takes the YouTube channel very seriously. In fact, she's given up her other hobbies like quilting and reading, instead focusing on the gaming.
Her YouTube channel has even eaten into her time spent playing, and she laments the fact that she simply isn't able to spend all night playing video games anymore because she has to stick to her publication schedule on YouTube.
Grandma Shirley might not look like your typical gamer, but she is definitely a serious one. She plays on a PC, enjoying one of the most popular single-player games. But she also plays other new games when they pop up, showing off new worlds to her fans in a fun and safe environment. Her endearing personality and relaxed gameplay appeal to fans across all ages, from young kids to older adults, although everyone simply calls her grandma.
- Age: 83
- Gaming Platform: PlayStation or “Play”
In Argentina and throughout the Spanish-speaking world, Isabel Martinotti is the Abuela (meaning grandma) Gamer. It all started when she got her grandson a PlayStation, and ended up loving it even more than he did.
“We began to play, then came Final Fantasy and that was the end of his Play, because I loved it and spent hours playing.”
She is a serious gamer, particularly enjoying RPGs. When friends didn't believe her grandson that she was such an avid gamer, he recorded videos of her playing and from this, her YouTube channel was born.
It has definitely brought them closer together. Abuela Gamer says she wanted to get closer with him, and because they play games together, they enjoy a real bond. She explains , “Instead of grandmother-grandson, we became friends and he began to tell me about everything that happens outside of the house.”
Abuela Gamer has over 31,000 subscribers to her channel. Her most popular video features her beating a boss in The Witcher 3. Her videos capture the excitement and satisfaction that gamers around the world experience.
Despite her age, she is animated and exhilarated during battles, celebrating her victories and lamenting her defeats. This isn't your even-tempered granny, but a truly fiery abuela who is seriously passionate about video games.
While she hasn't posted as many videos recently, her Instagram feed is still active and she remains a beloved character in Argentina and abroad. Her channel gives hope to other aspiring female gaming YouTubers, proving that you can find success no matter how old you might be.
- Age: 84
- Programming Language: Swift
At the age of 82, Masako Wakamiya became one of the world's oldest iPhone app developers with her game, Hinadan.
“I wanted to stress the impact of ICT (information and communication technology) literacy on mental health since it is a very good thing for lonely seniors to be capable of communicating with others through the internet.”
Players are tasked with arranging dolls on a shelf, reminiscent of an actual festival in Japan. The game is specifically designed for senior players, most often enjoyed by grandparents playing with their grandchildren.
Wakamiya only developed the game herself after reaching out to a variety of game developers asking for games for older people. She explains that seniors often get lonely and lose people in their lives, becoming isolated in their homes. Technology can open them up to new worlds and give them access to friendships and communities they wouldn't have otherwise.
Her app's success led her to be a speaker at Apple's developer conferences, as well as at the UN. She has become a self-described “ICT-Evangelist”, encouraging people of all ages to get involved with technology.
Wakamiya hopes that her app will help older people become comfortable and familiar with the internet and technology, making them more likely to use it in other ways in their lives. She points out that computers and smartphones are just the beginning, as increasingly our watches and speakers are also technologically connected.
Using games to help the elderly stay connected is a passion for Wakamiya. She not only wants to develop more games and apps but also continue to explore technology and see how it can be a part of her life. When not developing games or speaking at world events, she also makes art using an Excel-based version of painting by numbers to create patterns and images.
Getting a Job in Esports
We chat to Cam Brierley, Content Lead at HitmarkerJobs.com, about trends in the gaming industry.
Have you recently seen an incline of interest from women wanting to join the gaming industry, if yes or no – why do you think this is?
We've definitely seen an increase in the number of women that are looking to enter the esports and gaming industry. We recently published our statistics from 2018, and one of the key points was that the proportion of our user-base that was female increased quite significantly between the first half of the year and the second.
In the first six months of 2018, women accounted for just 11.17% of our users. This number rose to 15.50% in the final six months of 2018. Indeed, in March 2018 only 9% of our users were women, but by December that proportion had doubled to 18%.
The only thing that brings people to our website is the jobs that we post, which are exclusively in esports and gaming, so we'd say this is pretty indicative that the number of women looking to get involved in the gaming industry is rising.
As to why this is, there's been a good number of efforts by figures in the industry to make esports more accessible and welcoming for women this year. For example, Dot Esports, an esports coverage website, has been running a profile series on women working in the industry to tell their story, how they came into their current position and what advice they would have for people looking to do the same.
As well as this, there are groups out there with a focus on showing women that esports is a feasible career path who are working to make the industry more inclusive, such as Women of Esports. Initiatives like this are certainly a healthy thing to see in an industry that is male-dominated like gaming, and show women that there are other women out there who are working in the industry and crushing it, which is important in an area where otherwise female role models would be less visible.
What is the typical age of applicants?
For the age of applicants, we can only speak on the age of the people visiting our website. Though as mentioned before, we think this to be a pretty accurate source for looking at the average profile of someone looking for a job in esports and gaming.
This may come as a surprise to some, but 89.84% of job hunters on our website are under the age of 35. The majority of our users are aged between 25-34, followed closely by those aged between 18-24. Job hunters that are 45 or older make up under 4% of our user-base.
What are the most popular roles?
For the most popular jobs, we'll answer this in two parts. We have filters on our website that allow candidates to select what jobs show up on the feed. They can select by location, seniority level, profession, contract type, etc. The jobs that candidates choose to filter in the most are Social Media jobs, followed by Marketing jobs with Design roles coming in third. Our filters have been used over 200,000 times and these come out as the most popular sectors for our candidates.
On the other hand, these are the job types that are most frequently posted by companies in the scene. Operations/Management was the most-advertised for sector in 2018, followed by marketing and then software engineering. These figures come from the 5,896 jobs we posted in 2018.
5 Women Ruling the Industry
With some impressive credentials, we are proud to celebrate these incredible, powerful women who are at the top of their game.
Denise Coates: CEO of Bet365
The CEO of Bet365 is the highest paid CEO in the world. But you could certainly say that she earned her £265 million ($340 million) pay package considering how she is responsible for turning Bet365 into the online casino giant that it is today.
- Age: 51
- Estimated salary: £265 million
- Industry: Gambling
Vanessa Selbst: #1 Poker Player
By the time she retired from pro poker in 2017, Vanessa Selbst had won three World Series of Poker bracelets, netted $11.9 million in tournament winnings and spent time as the world number one poker player.
- Age: 34
- Estimated salary: $200,000+
- Industry: Hedge fund investment
Sasha 'Scarlett' Hostyn: Esports Professional
"Most of the pros playing nowadays are full-time, not going to school or having another job, so they can consistently perform well."
One of the most successful women in esports, Sasha 'Scarlett' Hostyn is one of the world's best StarCraft 2 players . She is the first female winner of a major, global tournament, and is quickly becoming one of the highest paid esports professionals in the world.
- Age: 25
- Estimated salary: $200,000+
- Industry: Esports
Margaret Wallace: CEO of Playmatics
"It’s fascinating to discover how much some of these practices that have been pioneered in games have moved into other mobile app verticals."
In 2013, Forbes named her as one of 12 women in games to watch. Margaret Wallace is an entrepreneur in gaming and technology. Her work extends into comic books, augmented reality and helping other start-ups. She is a frequent speaker on topics ranging from social gaming to entrepreneurship and real-world games.
- Age: 51
- Estimated salary: $150,000+
- Industry: Hedge fund investment
Chelsea Howe: Creative Designer
“Games are interactive experiences that enable people to explore their own stories. They are an art, a philosophy, a cultural necessity. The world needs play.”
After creating some of the most popular games as Creative Director for EA Mobile, like Farmville, Tiny Castle and Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, Chelsea Howe decided to work for an independent game studio. There, she's the Creative Designer building evocative new experiences.
- Age: 31
- Estimated salary: $200,000+
- Industry: Design
The Future of Women in Gaming
The role of women in gaming is expanding. In part, this is because the gaming industry is maturing, telling more nuanced stories and creating unique characters. As a result, they are bringing on teams of creators who can better build those worlds and the people within them.
Additionally, these characters are attracting a new wave of female gamers. While the original Lara Croft was fun in her own way, the rebooted version is easier for women to identify with and more realistic as a role model for men and women alike. Similarly, Horizon Zero Dawn's Aloy can be played in a range of ways depending on the player's choices for interactions, but all of them are strong and resourceful. This helps more female gamers feel represented, making it easier for them to share their experiences with other women.
There is still a lot of room for growth in gaming, and it's clear that the video game industry will need to go through their own #metoo movement in the same way entertainment has. By clearing away old beliefs and toxic personalities, there is more room for the continued success of women in gaming.
Plus, as channels like twitch, YouTube and podcasting continue to grow, women are sure to have their voices heard even more. From impressive professional gamers to video game streamers and creators, women are showing up and being seen in the world of gaming.
Gaming is going beyond entertainment, too. The growth in extended reality like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is having an impact on other forms of technology. Women are well-suited to combining these aspects, working to apply them to health, education, and even construction.
No matter what the future holds for gaming, one thing's for certain: as more games are built for women, by women, the female gaming community will continue to grow. Although historically the gaming world has been synonymous with men, the industry is changing year on year - and about time, too.
Insider Insights: Working as a CMO in Online Gaming
Liudmyla Kryvko, CMO of TruePlay.io, talks to Casino.co.uk about working in a male-dominated industry, career-defining moments and what her top tips are for other women looking to get ahead of the game.
How did you get into the iGaming business, and did you always think you'd end up doing this?
I knew I wanted to be in Marketing and I put all my efforts into this when I was a student. Later I entered a business school to continue my education. However, there was no big plan to get into the iGaming. I just applied for a job and got hired as an SMM manager in a gaming company. But now, it’s hard to imagine I could work in any other business. I’ve been in marketing for gaming projects for over 7 years and yet there is always something new to learn. The industry keeps evolving and you have to keep up with the flow all the time.
In your 7 years of experience in iGaming industry, have you ever felt any prejudices towards you?
To be honest, I have but it was about 3-4 years ago and it was coming from my co-workers. I mean a few of my colleagues didn’t expect me to become a head of the department or a CMO as I wasn’t a tech geek. But my supervisors always supported those who strived to work harder and constantly improve themselves. For that, I am grateful. Our executives never cared whether it was a man or a woman getting promoted. It was always about achievements and personal skills to be able to lead a team.
Do you think the gaming industry is male-dominated?
Statistically, yes. However, we've seen in the last two years the percentage of women gambling has increased. The same goes for people who work in the iGaming industry. I've seen the growth of executive positions held by women.
Do you think there is a stigma attached to women who work in gaming?
I can say for women from Eastern Europe that we are too independent and self-confident to live with any stigma at all. We have strong female characters in our history, and I was raised as a person who could achieve anything if worked hard (as any other human being). Sure thing, we have more men in the development department and more women in marketing. But when a woman applies for a tech job, she is evaluated as a specialist by her previous work and a set of skills.
What's been the most memorable moment of your career to date?
Two years ago I founded my own marketing agency for gaming projects: Vendo Performance Agency. That was a serious step, but I knew I was ready to run my own business. I also joined a blockchain project TruePlay.io as a CMO, and last year we won the Best ICO of the year award at SiGMA. It was quite remarkable as it gave me a chance to meet lots of industry giants who were eager to know what we do and how we got the award. Still, I don’t want to think of it as my greatest achievement. I’m sure there will be more significant moments ahead of me.
Do you play casino games or any computer games?
Every time I visit a new country or a city, I look for land-based casinos to walk in and make a few bets. This is a kind of tradition for me. And I play every time we add a new game to the platform to test it out. Other than that, I seldom play as all my games are around A/B testing and conversion optimization!
Knowing what you know now, what one piece of advice would you give your younger self starting out in the iGaming business?
Never stop learning. I thought that I knew everything about online games when the blockchain came. And I had to be a student again to see what this technology was about and how iGaming could benefit from it.
What one tip would you give other women to get ahead in this industry?
Love your job and work hard. Think of yourself as a professional. And for professionals, it doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman. Represent yourself in your actions, in your daily tasks. That’s what counts.
TruePlay.io is a b2b blockchain-based platform for gaming providers, affiliates, and operators. Creating honesty and transparency in the gambling world, TruePlay provides a unique honesty control system with a deep blockchain integration. For players, TruePlay allows fast token deposits and withdrawals across multiple casinos eliminating extra commissions.
The team at Casino.co.uk created an exclusive piece to celebrate some of the most powerful, influential and totally EPIC women in the gaming industry. If you like our piece, please share it, tag us, and use the hashtag #WomenInGaming.