International Women's Day: At The Top Of Their Video Game
STORY: Nicholas Yong
07 March 2021
(Clockwise from top left): American video game designer Kim Swift; voice actor Jennifer Hale; Koei co-founder Keiko Erikawa; first female esports player signed to the Overwatch League Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon; and first Singapore all-female e-sports team Asterisk. | Photos: (clockwise from top left) Facebook/@PaulJaggerMX, Instagram/@jhalegram, Twitter/@metasynthie, Instagram/@_geguri and @asterisk.gg
There are more women in gaming than ever before. According to a 2019 research from Niko Partners commissioned by Google, 40% of all gamers in Southeast Asia are women. And it’s not just gamers – there is a growing number of female professionals involved in game development too.
Of course, more should be done in the gaming industry to encourage women to consider gaming careers. Facebook hosts #SheTalksGames to spark a conversation about women in the gaming industry. And on the home front, we have the MYSG Allies in Games Facebook group.
Want to witness some of the best female e-sports gamers battling it out? Check out Female Esports League (FSL), Southeast Asia’s top female gaming circuit.
Meanwhile, this International Women’s Day (8 March), we focus our attention on and celebrate exceptional individuals who have played a big part in the history of gaming.
Team Asterisk 🇸🇬🇸🇬🇸🇬
Achievement unlocked: First Singapore all-female e-sports team
Known for: DotA 2, League of Legends, CS:GO
Character profile: Founded in 2005, Team Asterisk was formed by Tammy “furryfish” Tang and Dawn “pinksheep” Yang as the world’s first all-female DotA team. Team Asterisk has gone from strength to strength, and since expanded to more games. While Team Asterisk members have come and gone, the team continues to stamp their mark in the world of e-sports.
Achievement unlocked: First video game writer and first female game designer
Known for: The Sumerian Game
Character profile: Back in the ‘60s, Addis was tasked by IBM and the New York Boards of Cooperative Educational Services to come up with a text-based computer game. This turned out to be The Sumerian Game, a strategy game where players play as rulers of the fictional Sumerian city of Lagash. The Sumerian Game was not only the first video game with a story, it was also the first educational video game too.
Achievement unlocked: First female full-time video game designer
Known for: 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe, River Raid
Character profile: Working for Atari, Shaw designed and programmed 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe in 1979 for the Atari 2600 console. Later in life, she worked for Activision, designing the game Happy Trails for the Intellivision and her most popular game, River Raid for the Atari 800 and Atari 5200 consoles.
Achievement unlocked: Co-founder of Koei, originator of the otome genre
Known for: Angelique
Character profile: Keiko and her husband founded Koei (now Koei-Tecmo) together in 1978 in Japan. By the 1980s, she remained the only woman working for Koei, but she wanted to attract more women to enter the video game industry. With that goal in mind, she formed Ruby Party, a video game development team predominantly made up of women, which developed Angelique – the first romance game title for girls in 1994 and birthed the otome genre.
What is an Otome game? Targeted towards women, this is a story-based game where players usually develop a relationship between the female main protagonist and one of many male characters. Some of the best Otome games translated into English are Collar x Malice, Hakuoki, and 7’scarlet.
Achievement unlocked: Major game developer, one of Fortune’s “30 Under 30” influential figures in gaming
Known for: Portal, Left 4 Dead, Star Wars Battlefront II
Character profile: A DigiPen Washington alumni (yup, the same one at One North), she led the development and was level designer for the unique first-person game Portal (one of our top recommended games for couples!). Swift also played a leading role in the development of first-person shooters Left 4 Dead and its sequel. She was also design director for Star Wars Battlefront II.
Achievement unlocked: Most prolific female videogame voice actor, recognised in the Guinness World Records
Known for: 168 games, too many to list!
Character profile: The Canadian-American voice actress voiced Ivy in Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? in her first cartoon series, which opened the door for her to voice the character in the tie-in video game. She played Samus Aran in the Metroid Prime series, Sheena Fujibayashi in Tales of Symphonia, Ashe in Overwatch, the female Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect series, Maria Hill in the latest Marvel’s Avengers game plus many other roles in Metal Gear Solid, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and more.
Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon
Achievement unlocked: First female esports player signed to the Overwatch League
Known for: Overwatch
Character profile: The South Korean Geguri (misspelling of “frog” in Korean) started playing games from the tender age of 5 with her mum. She was the first female player to be signed to an Overwatch League team as part of the Shanghai Dragons. She was part of Time’s 2019 Next Generation Leaders list for “Fighting Gender Bias in Gaming”. She’s no longer part of the Shanghai Dragons, but we eagerly await her next venture.