March 28, 2022
By Anastasia Staten, ESA Foundation Executive Director
Many people think women don’t love video games, but they’re wrong. One in three people worldwide plays video games, and nearly half of those gamers are women. However, less than a quarter of the employees in the video game industry are women, suggesting stereotypes may be a contributing factor to underrepresentation in the workforce.
Part of my job is to help fix that — by encouraging girls and women to take their passion for the power of play to the next level. As we look to a new technological frontier with the coming “metaverse,” we need to seize the opportunity to build a future much more mindful — and representative — of all members of society.
Writing the rules of the metaverse
The metaverse, if you’re not acquainted, is a complex system of technologies allowing people to interact with one another in a virtual world. Early adopters are writing the rules of engagement — think cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and other forms of content being developed in multi-dimensional ways. Women are among the designers, but we need more to join in the effort if we want to ensure everyone has a say in what the metaverse and what its future technologies will look like.
I recently hosted a conversation on this topic with an impressive group working for HP, Google, Riot Games, Unreal Engine, and Oculus VR, all helping to drive the metaverse forward. Among the issues we discussed were technological challenges, the impact of algorithms on society, and how to attract more women to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) fields. You can catch the whole discussion — and learn more about these multi-talented women — at ESAFoundation.org/whats-needed-to-design-and-build-an-inclusive-metaverse/.
Based on my experiences working closely with elementary- to college-age students, these kinds of dialogues help girls and younger women imagine actual careers in the video game industry — the place where many exciting technologies now fueling metaverse design were born.
In fact, the purpose of the ESA Foundation is to help build a pipeline of future video game professionals. Fifteen years ago, we established a scholarship fund to provide support for video game-focused women and minority students across the United States.
To date, we’ve awarded more than 450 scholarships powering the dreams of underrepresented college-age students earning computer science and video game-related degrees. I’m excited to share that the ESA Foundation just made applications for three different 2022-23 scholarships available to qualified candidates for game design, esports, and students who support their LGBTQ+ communities. For more information, including how to apply, check out ESAFoundation.org/scholarships/.
So many young women who love video games and the tech behind them don’t know how to take steps toward building a STEAM career, but there are many pathways and the industry is welcoming new voices and talents. We need artists, engineers, designers, entrepreneurs, and those curious about finding their place in an ever-expanding universe of opportunities.
Please spread the word — a community of diverse talents and perspectives will help ensure the metaverse, not to mention real life, makes room for us all.