Women In Games International Helps Diversify Game Industry

In an effort to promote the role of women in the largely male oriented video game industry, Women In Games International (WIGI) has been formed in collaboration with the Women in Games Conference in Dundee, Scotland. According to the release, the organization was created "in response to a growing demand around the world for the inclusion and advancement of women in the game industry."

Industry's top women create WIGI

The non-profit organization was founded by Sony Online Entertainment's Sheri Graner Ray, who has been a proponent of women's issues in the game industry for some time now. Ray authored the book "Gender Inclusive Game Design-Expanding the Market," and she has served as the co-chair for the Women in Game Development SIG of the IGDA for 4 years.

WIGI's steering committee is comprised of a number of prominent female figures in the video game industry including Laura Fryer, Executive Producer, Microsoft Game Studios and Kathy Schoback V.P. Content Acquisition, Ageia. Fryer was named one of The Hollywood Reporter's "Top 12 Most Influential Women in Gaming in 2004," and she also was one of the founders of the annual "Women in Gaming" sessions at the Game Developers Conference. Schoback, who currently serves on the board of the International Game Developers Association, has nearly 15 years experience in the gaming industry, 9 with Sega of America.

"We are committed to the promotion and sponsorship of events such as conferences, workshops and seminars that help women break into and thrive within the game development world. We are also identifying and promoting collaborations and connections between industry and the academy that can help us better understand the industry, our games, and women's vital role in both. We are also searching for new methods to increase and retain qualified and talented women in the industry," explained Schoback.

Diversifying the game industry

Fryer added that she sees much potential for the video game industry and that women can help the industry realize that potential. "Although videogames first appeared over 40 years ago, our medium still has tremendous untapped potential. As a gamer, I crave the new experiences that future videogames will bring, and I believe that diversifying our industry is key to reaching our full potential. As we launch a new generation of games, and a new generation of game professionals, this is an exciting time for our industry, and an exciting time to participate in WIGI and help take us all to the next level," she said.

Although WIGI is certainly committed to the advancement of women in the global games industry, the organization also pointed out that it "advocates issues important to both women and men in the game industry, including a better work/life balance and healthy working conditions."

"WIGI shares many of the same goals and objectives of the IGDA and our Women's SIG (special interest group). It is encouraging to see such energy in the direction of gender diversity within the industry and we are always happy to support such positive efforts," commented Jason Della Rocca, IGDA Executive Director and WIGI sponsor.

WIGI's first event will be the Women In Games International Conference-Seattle from 1 pm to 6 pm on Saturday, September 10 at Microsoft, Building 122, in the Hyak/Chelan rooms. Called "Advancing Your Career in Game Development: The Women's Perspective," the conference will feature an opening keynote, four panel discussions with top experts in the field, and a post-conference networking reception. Sponsors include Microsoft Game Studios, IGDA, Game Developers Conference, DigiPen, Mary-Margaret.com, Girls in Games, WomenGamers.com and Business Wire.

The conference will be free to attend, but you must reserve a spot by registering on the WIGI Website.

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