To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, the Entertainment Software Association is honored to highlight five women from the past and present who’ve paved the way for women in the video game industry. From Grace Hopper, the Mother of Computing, to Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries, the women below aren’t just changing the game for women–they’re changing the world.
1. Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, “The Mother of Computing”
“Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.”
Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first linkers.
2. Carol Shaw, the first professional female video game designer and programmer
“When I was in junior high and high school, I was good at math. I entered a bunch of math contests and won awards. Of course, people would say, ‘Gee, you’re good at math — for a girl.’ That was kind of annoying. Why shouldn’t girls be good at math?”
Carol Shaw was one of the first female game designers and programmers in the video game industry. She is best known for creating the Atari 2600 vertically scrolling shooter River Raid for Activision.
3. Bonnie Ross, American video game developer and head of 343 Industries
“I don’t think I would still be at Microsoft or in technology if I hadn’t found gaming.”
Bonnie Ross is an American video game developer and Corporate Vice President at Xbox Game Studios. Ross established and is the head of 343 Industries, the subsidiary studio that manages the Halo video game franchise.
4. Jay-Ann Lopez, founder of the industry shaping collective Black Girl Gamers
“With the integration of technology into our everyday lives, the opportunities for accessibility increase.”
Jay-Ann Lopez understands that the global gaming industry is one dominated by white men. This is why she built Black Girl Gamers, an online community and safe space to allow black women who enjoy gaming to connect and enjoy the experience collectively. Lopez, 26, is based in London and launched BGG as a way to bridge the divide and bring black girl gamers together to share tips, connect and play against each other.
5. Ashly Burch, American voice actress, actress, singer and writer
“There’s the idea that gaming is a closed door and that men are holding access to who gets in or out, and you have to prove — if you’re female — that you’re a real gamer. I think the younger generation, they don’t care. They want more women playing and…they just want to play fun games.”
Ashly Burch (born June 19, 1990) is known for her roles as Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn, Tiny Tina in Borderlands 2 and Borderlands 3, Miss Pauling in Team Fortress 2, Chloe Price in Life Is Strange, Ray from Fortnite, and more. Her work in Life Is Strange and Horizon Zero Dawn won her the 2015 and 2017 Golden Joystick Awards for Best Performance.