According to data from early 2023, women and girls make up roughly half of all gamers in the United States, and there are over 200 million gamers across the country. Globally, female gamers are on the rise where they make up close to half in major gaming regions such as Asia, across multiple consoles and platforms. It is fair to say, statistically speaking, that the gaming world should not just be thought of as a male-dominated arena if trends continue to track the way they are. But when it comes to leadership in the gaming world, we still have a long way to go.
A company’s leadership team has the ability to set the tone and impact culture. A report from March8.com in June 2022 found that “fourteen of the world’s top gaming companies revealed that only 16% of women hold executive positions in the industry, according to NewZoo. And, outside of these executive positions, women only account for 24% of the industry’s workforce,” write Lucy Buchholz.
This is not just game developers, but those involved in all areas of technology, innovation, character development and the overall process of how games are made and marketed.
There is ongoing effort to promote and highlight diversity and inclusivity in the industry, which we have also amplified on our platform with various features and profiles on women who are taking up and creating more space for others. With this in mind, we were very excited to have the opportunity to interview Taina Malen who is the CMO and COO of Star Stable Entertainment.
In case you haven’t yet heard of it, you may already know some of their game titles. Star Stable is the largest horse adventure game on the market, with 25 million registered users, across 180 countries. It is a brand built on inspiring its community of young women and girls, one that is massively underserved in the gaming industry.
Star Stable has a dedicated, diverse team of over 200 employees, hailing from 25 different countries around the globe, all remaining steadfast in its mission; to inspire girls and young women, to celebrate the power of sisterhood, and to create a more inclusive gaming environment.
Taina’s contributions to the gaming industry serve as an inspiration to aspiring female gamers and leaders, highlighting the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the industry. She has over 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry at world renowned companies such as CANAL+, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros, to name just a few.
Here’s what she shared with us about being a leader in the gaming world, the exciting things Star Stable is doing to make gaming a more inclusive space, and why diversity behind the scenes of a company can impact the product and culture it creates.
Can you first tell us where you entertainment career began?
My career began in the music industry, actually on the road with one of the worlds no.1 rock bands called Europe. You most likely know their song “The Final Countdown”. My first real job was as PA to the band and I spent 3 years on and off the road, traveling around the world with them. I went on to work on the record company side of the industry, followed by Universal Pictures, CANAL+ and Warner Bros, all companies in film, TV or home entertainment. From there on I co-founded an E-sports initiative and started my journey with Star Stable Entertainment 9 years ago.
Being in numerous positions of leadership at the various companies and brands you’ve worked for, what have been the biggest takeaways or lessons you’ve learned?
Stay true to who you are as a leader. Leadership trends come and go but you need to find your core. Have your ear to the ground, listen to your co-workers, to the market and your users.
I would also want to highlight that there is nothing like treating people with kindness, be kind!
You have worked in industries that are very male-dominated. What has been your experience as a woman in leadership in this arena?
I am confident in myself, what I believe in and how I want to lead. I have learnt from every individual that has crossed my work path, many of them brilliant women.
There are still not as many women in leading roles, especially in this industry. But I see more opportunities opening up and I am super grateful that I and Star Stable Entertainment have been able to be a leader in the field of building a platform for women and young girls in the industry.
How did you first come across Star Stable Entertainment, and what attracted you to the company?
I was attracted to the brand, and its magical world. Star Stable has created an amazing universe with so many stories to tell. I could see how we could build out this IP and extend the brand outside of the game. Also I think the audience really caught my attention, a bunch of super engaged and creative girls ! The opportunities with Star Stable are endless.
How is Star Stable working to change the narrative for women in gaming, and make the environment more inclusive overall?
We are a game for girls. We create relevant stories for a female audience. Our values are built on our core belief that every girl is a Hero. We as a company are more than 50% women across the board, and we strive to work with as many female story tellers as possible when developing products outside of the game.
What are some of the most popular Star Stable activations right now?
We are releasing on Android in the fall and we have just done a revamp of our characters in game. We are also launching a toy line in 2024, which is very exciting!
Despite the fact that women and girls make up significant numbers of gamers globally, why do you think there is still pushback with regard to gender equality?
For decades, the gaming industry has been stereotypically associated with men, with games being made by and for boys and men. Therefore games haven’t been inclusive of girls or their interests, and the industry has lacked diversity. Brands like Star Stable are working to change this, not only by creating a game for girls, but also building an inclusive internal team (in Star Stable’s case, a 50% female workforce). There is still a long way to go in achieving equality in the gaming space, but Star Stable is doing it’s part both in-game and internally.
You have been with the company as it has grown from less than 20 staff to more than 200. What are your secrets to this growth?
We do what we know, and stay true to our core business objective which is making a game for girls based on our values, mission and vision. We have always had a very strong culture, different from many other gaming companies with so many women in the company and in leading roles. I think Star Stable’s story has attracted a lot of great people who are passionate for the same thing.
How does sisterhood factor in to the way you work with your team and the type of products you create?
Well it is one of our creative guidelines, when we build our game and other products and what connects us with our players; sisterhood., I also think that within the organisation many of us feel like sisters.. and I am pretty sure if you ask our fans, that is how they feel too.
What can other tech and gaming brands and companies to do also ensure they contribute to a more inclusive industry?
It’s quite simple but…hire more women! Work to build a culture and company values to attract the right people. Take the inclusivity and diversity work seriously, if you don’t know how, then seek expert advice or hire in the area. Ask your network, put their ears to the ground and get interested, Its 2023 !
If you had one piece of advice for other women in gaming and tech leadership, what would it be?
Be true to who you are, and more importantly look out for each other.