In celebration of National Women’s Month, we here at GG Network want to highlight some of the very best and most talented women in the gaming industry that created, wrote and/or directed your favorite games. Check them out, maybe even play them today!
Gone Home is one of the pioneers of the narrative-based exploration genre co-created and co-written by Karla Zimonja, co-founder of Fullbright Games. Gone Home tells a story fully through the exploration of an environment in this case, the Greenbriar household, your character’s deserted home.
As you progress through the game you find out more about the Greenbriar family, through objects and notes found in the environment, you get to understand who each of the family members are without ever meeting until eventually, you reach the game’s conclusion which explains their disappearance from the house
The game also challenged the expectations and norms of video games at the time, presenting itself to be one thing then turning it around to be a completely different thing. It’s brilliant, engrossing and an absolute masterclass in explorative storytelling.
Before co-founding Fullbright games with Steve Gaynor and Johnnemann Nordhagen, Zimoja worked the pair at 2K Marin developing the well-received Minerva’s Den DLC for Bioshock 2. In 2017, Zimoja and Fullbright released their follow-up to Gone Home, Tacoma, a 2001 Space Odyssey twist on the Gone Home formula, which garnered incredibly positive critical and commercial reception.
Journey is a wordless, textless 3D platformer which had two amazing women at the fore: Kellee Santiago, co-founder of Thatgamecompany and Robin Hunicke, who served as the producer during her time at Thatgamecompany.
Journey follows the epic adventure of your character, a nameless, orange-robed figure, travelling to reach a distant mountain. Along the way, you learn about the world and you meet and interact with a variety of characters and creatures that aid you in reaching your destination. The gorgeous visuals, awe-inspiring soundtrack are some of the most evocative in videogame history and the narrative is equally as powerful and moving. If you haven’t played Journey, you need to get that sorted right away.
After Journey was released, Robin Hunicke left Thatgamecompany to work on the MMORPG Glitch and then move on to found Funomena Studios. The company put out VR Puzzler, Luna and Wattam, the spiritual successor to Bandai Namco’s Katamari Damacy. In 2009, She was given the Women in Gaming Award for Design by Microsoft.
During the development of Journey, Kellee Santiago became a TED fellow and deliver a TED talk posing the query, “Are video games art?”. Santiago was also named one of the 100 most influential women in gaming by Fast Company in 2011. Santiago also left Thatgamecompany soon after Journey was released and went on to work for Ouya in 2013 as part of their developer relations team. Currently, Santiago now works for Google Play Games.
Portal is a game that’s as unique and out-of-the-box as they come. Using the game’s signature Portal Gun, you participate in Aperture Science’s increasingly intense experiments that test the boundaries of what rifts in reality called Portals can do. Accompanying the revolutionary Portal system is a brilliantly written script featuring the main antagonist, a sinister AI named GlaDOS.
Portal is one of the most creative and innovative games in the entire history of video games and we owe it all to Kim Swift.
In 2007, Swift developed a game called Narabacular Drop which was eventually bought by Valve and served as the whole basis to the Portal’s physics-defying portal system. Swift was the leader of the Portal development team and went on to work on projects such as Left4Dead and Left4Dead 2. To this very day, the Portal system is still a programming and development marvel which is a testament to the skill and brilliance of Swift and her team.
Since then, Swift has moved on to work with several high profile studios such as Square Enix, Amazon Game Studios and EA Motive. For her contributions to the gaming scene, Swift was named as Fortune’s 30 Under 30″ influential figures in the video game industry in 2013
Amy Hennig has written and directed a bunch of games throughout the years like Legacy Of Kain, Soul Reaver and Jak and Daxter 3. However, her most successful directorial and writing outing is with Naughty Dog’s Uncharted Franchise. As a series, Uncharted made a name for itself by finding exciting ways to marry cinematic storytelling from film and interactivity and player agency of videogames. The result is an exhilarating thrill-ride featuring a charming cast of brilliantly written characters that’s hard not to enjoy.
Amy Hennig left Naughty Dog in 2014 and joined Visceral games to produce what was a promising and cinematic Star Wars game codenamed Ragtag. The game would have a tumultuous time in development, however, which led to EA pulling the plug on Visceral and Ragtag in 2017 sending Hennig adrift. She left EA in January 2018 to found a small studio that made virtual reality games. She joined Skydance Media in 2019 and aims to make “new story-focused experiences [that] will employ state-of-the-art computer graphics” her particular bit of expertise.
Hennig has also garnered many notable accolades as one of the most successful and well-respected women in the game development scene. She was named as one of EDGE Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Women in Gaming in 2006, received the BAFTA Special Award in 2016 and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Game Developer’s Choice Awards in 2019.
Assassin’s Creed and Jade Raymond will always be names that will never be far apart from each other. And with good reason too, as Raymond was at the forefront of the first iteration of the epic saga, leading its development as its producer. Following the game’s success, she was handed the reigns of executive producer for the game’s more fully formed sequel Assassin’s Creed II and its then-upcoming projects, Watch_Dogs and The Epic Quest For Might Loot.
Jade Raymond is also a member of the Board of Directors of Women in Film and Television, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women across film, television and screen-based industries. In 2015, Raymond joined Electronic Arts to form EA Motive crossing paths with Kim Swift in the development of Star Wars Battlefront II. In 2019, Raymond left Motive to join Google to head up Stadia Games and Entertainment and develop the games for the game-streaming platform.
Raymond also has a plethora of awards and accolades to her name, receiving the Develop “Vanguard Award” in 2018 and the “Pioneer Award” from the Fun & Serious Game Festival, for her “contributions to the industry as a producer of games that are considered a turning point in the industry”. Raymond was also named Variety magazine’s 2018 list of 500 Most Influential Business Leaders Shaping the Global Entertainment Industry, one of the select few hailing from the world of videogames.
There you have it, five of our favorite games and the amazing badass women that made them happen. What is your favorite game/awesome kickass lady combo? Let us know in the comments below!
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