Women in Gaming

Date: 25th November 2020
15:30 GMT/ 15:30 London/ 7:30 San Francisco/ 21:00 Mumbai

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In the next edition of our Future of Work is Here Webinar Series saw us discussing the topic - Women in Gaming and we were accompanied by the industry experts like

Carina Kom
Keerti Singh
Mariela Tzvetanova
  • Carina Kom -Founder and Creative Coach of P.V.P Game and Entertainment Services

    Carina is an award-nominated Canadian game designer turned producer, and is also a member of Women in Games Vancouver.

    She is also a host and local speaker for events and conferences. After founding a game studio in 2016, she learned how to become a prevalent voice in games, and now continues to nourish passion in others through community initiatives like P.V.P: Game Services that support upcoming talent.

  • Keerti Singh - VP-Growth and Co-founder of Hitwicket

    An alumni of ISB, Hyderabad and VIT Vellore, she has worked in leadership roles at Amazon & India Oil before venturing into the gaming industry.

    With the shared vision of giving the most immersive interactive entertainment to the cricket fans globally, she co founded Hitwicket with Kashyap in 2015. With 8+ years of work experience across varied marketing and operations roles, she believes in the power of diverse perspectives leading to great solutions.

    Her areas of strength are game industry, online advertising and global payments. She has over the years accomplished and spearheaded business development, client management & partnerships globally. She has been active as a speaker, marketing and PR activities.

  • Mariela Tzvetanova - CMO / CBDO of Imperia Online

    Imperia Online is one of the biggest game production companies in SEE, part of Stillfront Group, where she leads games successful presence in portals, platforms, social networks, messengers and telco apps.

  • In this episode our panelists discussed on topics related to -

  • Diversity in Gaming Ecosystem, breaking the myths

  • Educational Programmes and Communities

  • Future and Subjective Expectations

Further the discussion was carried out on points breaking the myths related to women's contribution in the gaming industry. Where they shared their thoughts, views and experiences on below points:

1. Women comprise of small percentage of gamers

Mariala began with sharing her views on the statistics of women gamers and it was interesting to know that there is no major difference between the percentage of male and female users, it’s almost 50 - 50 %. But the difference depends on the platform that the users prefer. According to Marialla’s observation, most of the female players prefer playing games that are liked by their family, friends or by checking the ratings of the games. Whereas, men's preference for playing a game rely on online streamers or by reviews of youtubers.

Keerti further shared her thoughts - There is a lot of diversity in games in different geography. The percentage of women gamers in countries like China and Japan is around 50 - 54 %. Though in India the percentage of women players is around 20 %, which will increase in future. Keerti also mentioned that most of the female players prefer playing games on mobile due to its convenience. 3-4 years back the mobile gaming revenue was less than 30% of the total gaming revenue generated from all the platforms. But eventually in 2019 the mobile gaming revenue increased.

Carina shared her views on the same. According to her - women comprising a small percentage of gamers is a myth. There are many women playing games outside the US and UK. Womens are also getting into competitive games which are more hard core than the games which are generally expected by womens to play.

The second point of discussion was on the gender distribution of characters in video games -

2. Gender balance of game leading protagonists

Where Keerti added her views - More than the lead characters in the games, it is very important how well rounded the studios are. Some of the markets specially in India where people feel that there is a certain kind of genre that will resonate with the women audience. This thought process needs to change for an equal participation. For breaking such a myth it would require conscious efforts from the game developers and studios for an inclusive environment.

Carina mentioned that some generation gamers are interested in playing multiplayers games with endless customizability. The developers should make sure the players can choose to be women if they want to. Also the definition of the female lead characters needs to be more inclusive and diverse. Not just for women but a lot more diversity is required.

Mariala shared her views and experiences where women in gaming enjoy both the genre in games including simulation arcade. And there is a rise in female gamers participating in esports as well. There are also a number of female leading tutorial games on sites. Mariala observed a huge change in the gaming environment in Bulgaria in the past 5 years. Most of the females do enjoy playing mobile games from different age groups - 18 - 35 years old.

Third point was more likely a myth which people carried out through years in regards to revenue generated by male gamers are more in comparison with female gamers.

3. Female gamers don’t generate much revenue

Where Carina mentioned that it is surprising to know about female spending around £ 1.1 billion in gaming. But to root this fact, we need to know, what are women actually spending money on Consoles, PC’s, Xbox etc.

Marialia stated that mens are more likely to spend money on gaming mouse, keyboard, headset. Some of the females also spend money on gaming gadgets but It depends on the game. Most females are not that into spending money on gaming as their habits differ from men.

Further Keerti added her views on the context of mobile gaming. The best of the games in the world monetizes about 3-5 % of their gamers. There is always a very fraction of users generating massive amounts of revenue. And for people to actually become spenders in the game, they need to have a certain level of interest and comfort with the game. That’s where there is a bit of a gap in male and female gamers spending and becoming the payers for the game.

The last point was related to video games with exclusive female characters selling fewer copies than male lead ones.

4. Games with women in the lead role don’t sell

Keerti replied that a lot of games, specifically the RPG games and the strategy games, have a squad of players. Most of the characters are men and women. Here the game designers by choice try to make the women character more powerful to catch more attention. Most of the top games make sure that the character squad in the game is balanced.

Carina shared her views further saying that the gender balance of game leading protagonists is unfortunately imbalanced. There are not much female leading top titles that are in the top 50 spots. There are many games trying to start female strong characters in the top title spot.

In the next section our panelists discussed the news topic - Education programs and communities that exist, where there are initiatives taken by NGOs that are promoting women in gaming. For example - Facebook launched the #SheTalksGame. Here the women share their personal stories, challenges and opportunities related to the gaming industry. Intel has invested 300 million dollars towards female diversity in the game division. Also they have committed double the number of women working as developers in the next decade.

Mariala further states that Bulgaria ranks first in Europe in the number of women working in the gaming industry. And have seen mostly female developers are better in terms of front end knowledge and give more insights about the marketing of a game. They try to give ideas to the game designer and participate more in the team proactively. The Giant companies and NGOs taking initiatives to promote women in gaming is very encouraging.

Keerti shared her views on the gaming industry in India - If we look at gaming in India it's still not a very conventional or coveted industry as a career option. It’s only in the last 1- 2 years that the gaming industry is catching attention and getting highlighted. Lot of call outs are needed so any initiatives that bring awareness of gaming as an industry would go a long way for encouraging men and women to build their career in this industry.

Carina replied we need to have more women in gaming as we need to have more perspective. For women to enter into this in ustry we need to create a safe place. We need to look at our education system as well to teach and leave new perspectives about building a career in the gaming industry. As women boost productivity and create a better culture.

Next section was question and answer predominantly towards the experience of our panelists in the gaming ecosystem.

Q. How has your experience been in the gaming industry so far ?

To which Keerti replied - At the initial stage of the thought of getting into the gaming industry and starting her own company was quite a puzzle. This industry back then was at a very nascent stage, while people doubted on her decision as it was risky. But now when she looks back at her decision makes her feel happy. As it was just a matter of time and gaming industry is one of the fastest growth taking companies.

Carina shared her experience that throughout her journey she felt encouraged to be a part of the gaming industry. However there were certain challenges where men in authority position taking advantages or men in the world outside who are gamers slandering women.

Q. What difference in the impact of scholarship and guidance would have made on your academic or professional plans in the gaming industry ?

To which Carina replied that scholarships or guidance can be a great factor to attract women in this industry. However Carina personally was on her path of building her career in Gaming Industry without scholarship. The idea of free scholarship and guidance is very empowering as women really need to understand that a non-conventional career like video games is completely an option. Scholarships can be an awareness factor for women in gaming.

Mariala shared her views and experiences - Scholarships and proper guidance can attract more talent in the industry. As people tend to grab the opportunity and choose their career path by themselves. So scholarships would definitely seem persuasive and help the right talent to build their career path in gaming.

For Keerti gaming was an emotional experience as it is more towards creativity and art. Some of the people are personally motivated to build their career in gaming. But scholarship and some assistance can help people who are neutral to certain industries. They might enter and find themselves doing well in the gaming industry.

Q. Who is your biggest mentor or hero in gaming ?

Mariala tried her luck as a business developer to be a part of the gaming industry and was not a gamer for quite some time which made the gaming environment a bit challenging. During these challenging times her husband was her support system as he is a gamer. Though he is not from the same industry but as a gamer he followed all the news and kept himself updated with the current trend in the gaming industry. For Mariala her husband is her mentor as she discusses current trends in gaming and insights with him.

Keerti admires the founder of Supercells for the kind of games they have created. And their contribution to GDP or any social activities inspires her to do the same in India. Further on, the webinar was carried forward wherein the panellist shared their respective views in the Q&A session.

Kaushal shared his thoughts from the point of gaming industry in lifestyle. As our lifestyle is getting digitized due to the quick adoption of technology. Gamification has entered into many industries like healthcare, education or fitness.

Q. If gamification is going to play a bigger role based on that what changes do you see in ten years from now ?

To which Carina replied that there are a lot of technologies like VR which makes lives a lot more applicable and accessible for people who can afford to buy a VR. In 10 years we can find a way to cut costs so it can help everyone to function their life better. In future we are going to be more virtually present. Which can help many people to enter into the gaming world, especially women.

Keerti added her views that the digital identity of people is going to be very strong. People will start associating themselves very strongly with digital identity, where they might even start mentioning their leaderboard scores or ranks on their resume. People will be a lot more relatable to what identity they have created in the game.

Mariala states in future people will be more of the time at home and try new VR games. From the business side of view in future bigger companies will start acquiring small companies as talents are now available in markets to work as an indie with immense creativity skills.

During the Q&A session we received few questions from the audience like

Q. From where can the funds be sustained for training and resources?

To which Carina replied that lpt more resources will be available soon in all spectrums. There are consultants who can help and guide people. One can even reach out to any women in games chapter to find free resources. There can be a group of volunteers in schools providing free resources.

Next question was asked to Carina specifically -

Q. What are your thoughts on applying Empathy, Stewardship and Humour in studios ?

To which Carina replied that she personally likes people who have empathy, stewardship and humour as these are character traits that help us to be more compassionate and helpful to others. These traits can make a huge difference in studios which can create a good environment and build a better culture.

To summaries the whole webinar, it is clear that some of the Leading Game Development companies have shifted their focus to India. It is a great place to invest in and given the introduction of the new ease of performing business activities the focus is on skill development and investment as Indian Online Gaming Sector is growing with an exponential rise in the market.

To conclude, women are now slowly storming in the gaming industry but yet some people in the gaming industry still consider gaming as a male pursuit which is an error. Also for successful growth with diversity the gaming industry needs female representation as women bring growth and build a culture in every aspect.