IWD 2021: How Women Impact The Gaming Industry And A Q&A With Gaming Influencer And Content Creator Hannah “Bnans” Kennedy
In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day on March 8th, XP Sports is excited to celebrate the accomplishments of women in gaming. Not only did their hard work and creativity influence the world of video games, but these pioneering women also paved the way for future generations, allowing them to push the limits of what’s possible in gaming. The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 happens to be “Choose To Challenge.’ This theme is appropriate and timely for the gaming community as it encourages people to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality.
Women had to fight extremely hard to get their voices heard in the male-dominated gaming industry in the 1970s and ‘80s, and they have had to continue fighting today. While there have been many changes since the 70’s, with female game developers becoming some of the top executives in the industry today, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. In terms of numbers, there are more than one billion female game enthusiasts worldwide today, which accounts for 46% of all game enthusiasts. However, only 24% of game developers in the industry are women. This is a low figure compared to other creative and cultural sectors.
This International Women’s Day, all of us here at XP Sports #ChooseToChallenge and we hope you will, too. We also feel privileged to be able to partner with women like Hannah “Bnans” Kennedy, who is one of the most exciting gaming influencers and content creators in gaming today. To help us celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Bnans took time out of her busy schedule to talk to XPSports.com about the type of work that goes into being a content creator and gaming influencer, the importance and need for female creators in the gaming community, and what advice she has for female creators looking to grow in the gaming space.
So, let’s take a closer look at some of the major contributions that women in gaming have made, and also find out what Bnans believes will make the future of gaming better for everyone.
Women’s Contributions To Gaming
While video game history is often focused on the men who built the industry, there are many women who shaped the game industry through hard work, creative coding, artistic imagination, and business savvy. That’s why it’s important to recognize and acknowledge some of the first women who designed, created, marketed, sold, and played video games in the industry.
The First Woman Game Programmer and Designer
In 1978, computer programmer Carol Shaw became the first woman to program and design a video game, 3D Tic-Tac-Toe for the Atari 2600. She then went from Atari to Activision where she created the best-selling 1982 jet pilot shooting game, River Raid. After the video game market crashed, Shaw took a break from making games, but she returned in 1988 to oversee the production of River Raid II.
Creating The First Graphic Adventure Game
Roberta Williams is considered one of the most important figures in the history of video games. She first became fascinated with text-based computer adventure games while at home caring for a young child, and then went on to create and publish the first graphic adventure game, Mystery House, in 1980 with her husband Ken who was a programmer. The success of Mystery House led to the birth of the graphical adventure genre.
She also founded the software company On-Line Systems (later called Sierra On-Line) with her husband. Their company went on to become a dominating force in computer games. Williams was also credited with more than 30 top computer games, the majority of which she wrote and designed, by the time she retired in 1996.
The First Woman To Design An Arcade Game
Donna Bailey became the first woman to design an arcade game after she co-created and designed the 1981 bug-blasting arcade game Centipede with Asteroids designer Ed Logg. The game’s pastel-colored graphics and track ball-controlled game play made this game an instant hit with both male and female players.
However, Bailey left the video game industry shortly after finding success. As the keynote speaker at the 2007 Women in Games Conference, Bailey said that it was the pressure and criticism from her male counterparts that drove her from the business. Bailey encourages women to pursue careers in games, and shares her expertise as a college instructor teaching courses about game design.
Reiko Kodama was one of the first female video game artists. She designed characters for Sega arcade games, and then went on to create the art and characters for the iconic 1987 role-playing game, Phantasy Star. This science fiction-inspired game starred a strong, revenge-seeking female protagonist named Alis.
The World’s First And Oldest Female Competitive Gamer
Doris Self became one of the first, and the oldest, female competitive gamers when she entered the 1983 Video Game Masters Tournament at the age of 58. She went on to break the world high score record for Q*Bert with 1,112,300 points. Her high score was eventually broken, but her love and dedication to the game of Q*Bert remained. She’s also featured in the documentary, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.
A Q&A With Hannah “Bnans” Kennedy
Q: Tell us about the type of work that goes into being a content creator and gaming influencer. What makes your situation unique?
A: “You have to always be thinking ahead! And trying to make content that you think may stand out from a lot of other great creators. It’s so unique because we’re given a platform and are free to be as creative as we want to be.”
Q: Can you talk a little about why it’s so important for female creators in the gaming community to support each other, cultivate ideas, build relationships, and push for more diversity in gaming?
A: “It’s incredibly important to support other female content creators and recognize their hard work as much as possible. There’s still a lot of toxicity in gaming around females, but the more we normalize it, the better paths we make for our future in gaming.”
Q: What is the best piece of advice you’d give to female creators looking to grow in the gaming space?
A: “My biggest piece of advice is to be consistent. Make content on a schedule and make people aware of it. Take advantage of the things that make you different! If you’re super creative, do a cooking or painting stream. If you are insane at shooters, stream your ranked games. There’s so much you can do once you find your niche.”