These Five Women Are Destroying Gender Stereotypes In The Gaming World


When you think of the gaming world, it’s easy to imagine the stereotypical bro environment, war games, and the fact that it is male-dominated. Or is it? Studies show that women make up half of game-playing audiences, and in certain categories, they outnumber men! For example, more and more women are playing online slots. They love the excitement and the numbers are growing every year.

What is happening? Have men all of a sudden started embracing their female counterparts into this world?

Not necessarily, but women have forged ahead regardless and decided it was time to make their mark on the industry to destroy the stereotype that only boys play video games. There are some key people and games who have changed the industry forever by paving the way for other women.

The first is Anita Sarkeesian. While she is not necessarily known for her game-playing skills and she is not a game developer, her passion for exposing gaming for its sexist tropes set the entire industry in fire, culminating in the gamergate saga. She hosts a Youtube series called ‘Tropes vs Women’ where in each episode she examines a different game, the types of female characters present and how their story lines portray them as sexualized or less powerful beings than men.


She has gotten so much hate for exposing this side of the gaming world, receiving death and rape threats from online trolls, and it had gotten so bad at one point she needed to call the FBI after her personal details were leaked online. Today Anita continues her work and doesn’t back down from showing people the sexist side of the industry. Her passion as a feminist is to increase the types of characters of women that are just as powerful, complex, flawed and interesting as male characters.

Female gamers have always been present, but with the advent of gamergate, the knowledge of the intense discrimination women face simply for their gender became a mainstream topic. It has become a watershed moment for the gaming community because it can no longer be called a “boys club”.

The second woman is someone who might not necessarily be the type of person you think of when talking about gaming (which makes it all the more awesome!). Kim Kardashian West. Yes, the queen of turning what is considered a tabloid scandal into a multi-million dollar entrepreneurial enterprise is both inspirational and incredible.


Aside from clothing lines, cosmetic deals and a number of other businesses, in 2014 Kim K teamed up with mobile gaming company Glu to launch the ‘Kim Kardashian Hollywood’ game. To say it became an overnight hit is an understatement. The game itself is free on the Apple and Android app stores, but the majority of money is made through in-app purchases. Similar to casino and gaming apps like Blackjack and Video Poker, as you make your way through Kim’s celebrity world you can purchase beauty items, cars, houses and private jets.

Industry experts predicted the game would make $200 million by the summer of the first year of its release, and while it didn’t quite reach that number, the fact that it ended up making $43 million in one quarter alone is pretty darn impressive! Oh, and Kim takes home 45% of earnings, proving this isn’t just some fanciful venture, it is a serious business opportunity that could make even her harshest critics speechless on her ability to turn something to gold. She may be known more for her reality show and dynamic marriage to artist Kanye West, but Kim Kardashian West has now also become a serious brand name in the gaming world.

Next up is a woman probably less familiar to gamers, but her products are taking the gaming world by storm. Reine Abbas is a game developer from Lebanon whose company Wixel studios was only founded in 2008. She is not just any game developer. has called her one of the top 5 most powerful women in gaming.


She is a mother, an entrepreneur an a woman in a Middle East who is changing the narrative of what a gamer and game developer looks like. With reports showing that women make up only 22% of game developers worldwide, Reine’s presence makes a big deal and will go along way to inspiring other game creators.

But it’s not just adults women who are changing the gender dynamic of the gaming world. Teenagers Sophie Houser, 17, and Andrea Gonzales, 16, who met during a summer Girls Who Code program are the inventors of the Tampon Run mobile game. This brilliant feminist game has disrupted the mainstream gaming environment by bringing a decidedly feminine aspect to it, and for good cause.

The girls wanted to create a game that would break down menstrual stigma and shift some of the emphasis on violence that is so prevalent in many games. Instead of shooting guns, players shoot tampons at each other. Sophie and Andrea’s presence has certainly disrupted the gaming world by using the platform as an excuse to shed light on problems women face every day.


Another game they created is called Catcall Run where, once again, instead of guns, players shoot pencils, notebooks and computers at harassers then once the person has become “educated”, they graduate. The girls’ ideas have been gaining widespread mainstream media attention as well as the industry spotlight. In December 2014 the teen duo gave a TED Talk about Tampon Run and why they chose the medium of gaming to spread messages of female empowerment and equality.

The last person to disrupt the bro-dominated gaming world is another unlikely name. Margaret O’Neil, who is the co-founder of Enable Games, a company designed to make video games specifically for physical therapy patients. Margaret is an associate professor in Drexel University’s physical therapy and rehabilitation sciences department, and came up with the idea after thinking of ways to keep kids motivated and interested in therapy sessions, and which also allowed them to use their body.


She enlisted the help of a fellow Drexel University professor Paul Diefenbach and together they launched the company, and their first game Kollect, which is a game portal geared toward kids with disabilities, but will eventually be used for treatment with adults also.

They have only been in existence for 18 month, but as they continue to improve on the game, they plan to do clinical trials and eventually take this idea of using motion-driven games into the health industry as an innovative way to help patients in their rehabilitation. It’s not the multi-million dollar empire just yet, but the idea of using such a popular medium as a means to better a person’s life is something we have not seen a lot of in the gaming world. It is a welcome disruption indeed!

Of course, there are many more women who are changing the gaming world by subverting gender stereotypes and creating more space for women in the industry, and these are only a few. But it gives you an idea of why gaming can no longer be considered just a “boys club” anymore.




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