Kim Swift's call to arms for female devs

Why the game designer wants them to be seen, loud and strong

Game designer Kim Swift has called on women in the industry to make themselves more visible, in order to help inspire the next generation and bridge the gender gap.

“We need to change the make up of our industry, because games are a reflection of their creators,” she said in her blog.

“I see the solution to this problem coming not a year from now, not five years from now, but twenty. When this current generation of kids sees the good example that we should be setting now. And though we may not be able to tell it completely like it is just yet, there's still plenty we can do to help future generations of game developers.”

Swift, who is best known for her work on Portal, asks her fellow female developers to be visible, outspoken, strong and kind.


Image by Kim Swift

“Be everything that the younger versions of us could've pointed to and proudly said: 'Girls make games too.'”

Reacting to the 1ReasonWhy hash tag, Swift insisted that she loved the industry, and that her bad experiences were “dwarfed in comparison to the love of making games.”

“So when I blather endlessly about a game I'm working on until my eyes bleed, in the back of my head, I hope that there's a little girl out there that realises her dreams are achievable.”

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Latest comments (14)

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters9 years ago
Rachel, that link is broken.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
I wish more females would apply for the development games at Kwalee. I am sure that balanced perspectives make better games.
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Kim Swift is such an inspiration! I'm in the industry already and I still look up to her and aspire to be that awesome someday :D
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Show all comments (14)
Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University9 years ago
Brilliant blog post, and spot on. The more diverse the industry is, the better, and it's long overdue.
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Gemma Suen Games Artist, Oysterworld Games9 years ago
I hope to be a great artist so I can help shine for little girls too :)
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus9 years ago
Maybe one day, we can have a discussion about game development that ignores gender altogether.

Sadly, we're not there yet, as the Gameloft holiday party shows.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
I wish the best of luck to Kim and the rest of the women in this industry. It can be ridiculously misogynistic at times, but keep your heads up. It is changing, however slowly.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 9 years ago
While I know this is for a good cause I must be in the minority. When I like a good game it doesn't matter to me rather it was made by a man, woman, an American or a Japanese person.If it's a good game then it's a good game--period. I do believe that diversity is good for the industry but it would also be nice if everyone in the industry was treated equally from the start.
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Ignoring gender entirely isn't the answer - I know you dudes have your hearts in the right place when you say that, but acknowledging and valuing rather than ignoring the diversity of experience that can come from working with developers of all genders, ethnicities and sexualities rather than just straight white guys is what will bring richness and diversity to the games we make.

Anyway, Kim's point is that more role models for young women who are interested in making games to look up to would be awesome. The games industry isn't great about personal recognition, but when the vast majority of 'famous names' in our industry are guys it's nice to see great female devs like Kim Swift standing up and saying 'Hey look, we make games too.'
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Hey jessica, I think you hit the nail on the spot.

But also to bear in mind, male and female thinkings certainly differ and thus the way the article is phrased has a slight gender slant to it.
Ideally, game designers should inspire other folks to become more prominent irrelevant of their race/colour/gender. I would say, gender should be taken totally out of the equation with any jobs these days. which is different from being great role models for other human beings.
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers9 years ago
It's nice to say "we should just be people inspiring other people, man" but frankly our industry hasn't achieved enough gender parity to call all things even at this point. We need to be inclusive and let girls know it isn't a "boys only club" because that will make games better in the long run, and that's the point.
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Maybe we can phrase it that way. heya ladies, we really love your input and inclusion, come make this a more fun filled interactive enriched industry. The more the merrier.

Whereas the issue of parity, its a bit trickier. some industries will not truly achieve parity, due to the methodology of approach to work, work life and skillset. eg. are we going to look for true partiy in petrochemical engineering, piloting of heavy goods and aircraft.

Ultimately, there shouldn't be the need to genderise the issue, but making it such that its a open platform for any human being (reptilians not included) with opposable thumbs to contribute, would be ideal :)
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development9 years ago
Is it not that way already? I will pick (or not) the best person for the job of those that apply, that's it.

Would our studio (currently seven wasps) be better if a woman or a gay came to work here? Possibly, or maybe it'd be worse. Depends on the person and I don't think "women" bring any unique features along with them, same as "men" don't. It's all about the individual.
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Jonatan Crafoord Indie Developer, Really Interactive AB9 years ago
Actually, lots of research points at that it is *not* all about the individual, but very much about the constellation of individuals. More gender diversity has the potential to give benefits to overall problem solving within a team, job satisfaction and intent to stay with a job, and thus in the end the bottom line. Want references? Here you go:

I personally think an even more important aspect though is widening the recruitment pool. You say you don't get female applicants? Well, guess what, in many industries they have to actively hunt for their talent, informing in schools about the possibility of working in a certain discipline and making sure people work towards it and see it as one of their top choices upon graduation. In the games industry we've had the luxury of having gamers coming to us, and we've often made it a requirement that you have to be gamer to make games, or preferrably even an already experienced game developer.

In truth though, this recruitment procedure perpetuates an old demographic of hardcore gamers and existing developers as our talent pool, and that is a very small fraction of a much greater potential pool. Our games would probably benefit a lot from involvement by people who are not traditionally seen as gamers and would not think to come to us unless we actively asked them. It wouldn't make the games any less fun, but it would likely make them much more accessible, in turn giving us a bigger market and making more people interested in working in games.
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