April 26, 2023
Highlighting Women Creators in the Video Game Industry
This year’s World Intellectual Property (IP) Day is on April 26, 2023. This year’s theme, Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity, honors trailblazing women and raises awareness of their representation in IP. With 62% of women and girls playing video games in the United States, increasing diverse representation is pivotal to the growth of the industry. Today, the video game industry is taking a moment to highlight some of the pioneers who have significantly impacted the industry through IP. From developers to designers to producers, these women have led from every seat in the video game trade. They are just a small sample of the countless women advancing innovation and creativity with new intellectual property, making waves at all levels of the gaming community.
- Mabel Addis (1912-2004) is considered the first woman video game designer, as well as the first video game narrative designer of any gender. She wrote and designed the educational game The Sumerian Game in 1964. This IBM and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) initiative aimed to educate students on resource management. BOCES copyrighted the game in 1964, and while the initial Sumerian Game is discontinued, it has been replaced by Doug Dyment’s Hamurabi.
- Danielle Bunten Berry was an American game designer and programmer, best known for her work on Ozark Softscape’s 1983 M.U.L.E. and The Seven Cities of Gold published under Electronic Arts in 1984. In 1998 she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Computer Game Developers Association. In 2007, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences honored Berry as the 10th inductee into its Hall of Fame.
- Amy Hennig is a video game jack-of-all-trades: director, producer and screenwriter. She’s most notably known for her work on the breakout Uncharted Series and her work on the PlayStation staple Jak & Daxter. After being chosen to run Skydance New Media in 2018, Hennig acquired the rights to develop games on the IPs for Marvel and Star Wars, arguably the most valuable IP in the video game industry.
- Lizzie Magie (1866-1948) was an American game designer and the creator of Monopoly, receiving a patent for the game in 1904. While Monopoly was originally a board game, many publishers have transformed this iconic game into a video game, including Nintendo’s Monopoly, Monopoly Plus on PlayStation and Xbox and Monopoly Here and Now by EA Mobile.
- Jade Raymond is a video game programmer who’s worked on some of the biggest video game franchises to date, including Assassins Creed, Watch Dogs and Far Cry 4. A motivated entrepreneur, Jade started Haven Studios, an independent studio, which is developing new intellectual property for PlayStation.
- Brenda Romero is an award-winning game designer, Fulbright scholar and writer. She has worked with a variety of game development and publishing companies including Sir-Tech Software, Atari and Electronic Arts and is best known for her work on the Wizardry series. In 2015 and 2017 she released Gunman Taco Truck and Dangerous Dave in the Deserted Pirate’s Hideout! under her independent game development firm, Romero Games Ltd. Nerve Magazine recognized her as the woman with the longest continuous service in video game development.
- Carol Shaw is one of the leading voices in the video games industry today. Having been hired by Atari straight out of her Master’s in Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, Shaw programmed and designed numerous classic video games, including the promotional prototype for Ralph Lauren’s cologne, Polo. In 1982, Shaw developed Activision Blizzard’s award-winning River Raid for the Atari 2600, copyrighted under Activision. In 2017, Shaw received the Industry Icon Award at the Game Awards to honor her contributions to the games industry.
- Joyce Weisbecker is considered the first video game programmer and contractor. While a student at Rider University, she programmed games like RCA’s 1976 Snake Race Jackpot and TV Schoolhouse, which is considered the first commercial game ever designed by a woman.
- Roberta Lynn Williams, a video game designer and writer, saw the potential in adventure-based games which led to her co-founding the video game development company Sierra On-Line Entertainment. Now under parent company, Activision Blizzard, and published on all its platforms, Williams’ first game Mystery House, released in 1980, is credited as the first graphic adventure game and is best known for creating and maintaining the Sierra Entertainment King’s Quest series.
- Corrinne Yu is an American game programmer who worked on notable games like Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and Microsoft’s Halo 4. In 2012, while coding for the Halo 4 team at Microsoft Studios, Yu researched new lighting techniques and invented new dynamic radiosity algorithms. Microsoft applied for a software patent on her work in 2012.
While we celebrate their momentous accomplishments, it’s vital that we also use World IP Day to acknowledge the work remaining to ensure parity and opportunity for women in the games industry. As of 2021, only 30% of global game developers were women. While that number is an 8-point increase from 2014 and an indication that gender diversity is moving in the right direction, our industry is investing in the success of its women and the development of initiatives to encourage and support those looking to break into the field.
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About the ESA
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) serves as the voice and advocate for the U.S. video game industry. Its members are the innovators, creators, publishers and business leaders that are reimagining entertainment and transforming how we interact, learn, connect and play. The ESA works to expand and protect the dynamic marketplace for video games through innovative and engaging initiatives that showcase the positive impact of video games on people, culture and the economy. For more information, visit the ESA’s website or follow the ESA on Twitter @theESA.