Championing Women in the Gaming Industry: Voices of Inspiration

This International Women’s Day, we interviewed both games students and lecturers to explore their experiences in the gaming industry.

The 8th of March signifies the annual global observance of International Women’s Day. This significant day stands as a catalyst for advocating gender equality and honouring the social, economic, cultural, and political accomplishments of women worldwide. While it is a time for celebrating progress, it also sheds light on the ongoing struggles for women's rights, prompting calls for further change. This year's official hashtag, #InspireInclusion, underscores the importance of diversity and empowerment across society. The campaign theme highlights the vital role of inclusion in achieving gender equality, urging everyone to acknowledge and value the diverse perspectives and contributions of women, particularly those from marginalised communities.

We've conducted interviews with both students and our lecturers to delve into their personal experiences navigating the gaming industry. Through these conversations, we aim to gain insight into the challenges and triumphs encountered by individuals within this dynamic field. From students exploring their career paths to lecturers offering invaluable perspectives, these interviews provide a comprehensive exploration of the diverse experiences within the gaming industry.


Mai-Ying Tsang – Breaking Stereotypes with Artistry

In a world often dominated by stereotypes and preconceived notions, Mai-Ying Tsang emerges as a beacon of change within the gaming industry. Hailing from a background steeped in artistic passion and digital media exploration, Mai-Ying's journey into the realm of gaming began with childhood memories of bonding with her brother over PlayStation and Wii games. It was amidst these virtual adventures that she discovered her love for both artistry and gaming.

However, it wasn't until she encountered Hello Kitty Roller Rescue for the PlayStation 2 that Mai-Ying truly felt the spark of inspiration. The game's unapologetically feminine approach combined with strategic gameplay shattered the misconception that femininity and success in gaming were mutually exclusive. From that moment on, Mai-Ying was determined to carve her own path in the industry, one defined by creativity, resilience, and authenticity.

Despite her unwavering passion and dedication, Mai-Ying acknowledges the challenges that still persist for women in the gaming world. While her experiences at Staffordshire University London have been largely positive, she remains acutely aware of the societal norms and biases that continue to influence perceptions within the industry. Mai-Ying reflected, “Having women in the developmental scene and executive positions can offer a much more appropriate representation of women in video games, paving the way for all types of women to feel confident and represented, normalising and celebrating the diversity we share in mainstream media”. Her candid reflections shed light on the importance of challenging stereotypes and advocating for inclusivity at every level.

Looking to the future, Mai-Ying envisions a gaming industry that not only embraces diversity but actively champions the contributions of women. Armed with statistics highlighting gender pay gaps and online abuse faced by female gamers, she calls for tangible measures to ensure the safety and empowerment of women in gaming spaces. Mai-Ying said, “Women feel unwelcome and even unsafe in the games industry, and it is so important that active support systems are in place to keep our women safe and comfortable, as all employees should feel when in a workplace”.

Aspiring female gamers looking to follow in Mai-Ying's footsteps are met with a message of encouragement and empowerment. She urges them to embrace their passions unapologetically and to seize every opportunity with confidence and determination. By advocating for their worth and challenging societal norms, Mai-Ying believes that women have the power to shape the future of gaming for generations to come.

Drawing inspiration from trailblazing artists like Jane Katsubo, Mai-Ying's vision for the gaming industry is one of creativity, inclusivity, and empowerment. Through her unwavering dedication and innovative spirit, she continues to pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable gaming landscape.


Lena Guerrero – Navigating Male Biases with Determination

In the ever-evolving landscape of the gaming industry, Lena Guerrero stands as a testament to the power of determination and resilience. Fuelled by a lifelong fascination with the immersive worlds of video games, Lena's journey into game development was marked by a deep appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship behind the scenes.

From the sprawling landscapes of Final Fantasy to the historical settings of Assassin's Creed, Lena found herself drawn to the environmental aspects of gaming, sparking a passion for games development and environmental design. Yet, her path was not without its challenges.

As a female student navigating a predominantly male-biased industry, Lena encountered barriers and biases that threatened to undermine her aspirations. Despite the progress made towards gender equality, she found herself having to prove her worth and capabilities at every turn.

However, Lena's resilience and determination propelled her forward, empowering her to challenge stereotypes and advocate for greater inclusivity within the industry. She recognises the importance of providing women with the resources and support needed to thrive in gaming spaces, calling for greater representation and opportunities for aspiring female developers. Lena mentioned, “I think providing women with more resources and extra support would help them in becoming more inclusive in the games industry. When it comes to games development, I think this aspect should be introduced more to women, as it is mostly a male based job.”

For Lena, the key to overcoming barriers lies in community and collaboration. She encourages aspiring female developers to seek out mentorship and guidance from women already established in the industry, leveraging their experiences and insights to navigate challenges and pursue their passions.

Drawing inspiration from pioneers like Lena Raine, Lena envisions a future where women are not only recognised but celebrated for their contributions to the gaming industry. Lena said, “I hope to see more women present on the bigger screen to represent their company and are able to show their work and efforts to a wider audience. I also hope to see more conferences or workshops that allow other female students the chance to grow and empower themselves to pursue their passion in the game industry.”


Rikamae Paderes – Educating and Empowering Future Game Developers

As a lecturer in games development, Rikamae Paderes embodies the spirit of empowerment and advocacy within the gaming industry. With a keen eye for communication and a passion for fostering talent, Rikamae found her calling in guiding the next generation of game developers towards success.

Her journey into teaching was born out of a desire to bridge gaps and cultivate connections within the industry. From her early days as a Course Representative to her current role as a lecturer, Rikamae has remained committed to empowering students and challenging the status quo.

However, similarly to Lena, her journey has not been devoid of obstacles. As a female lecturer in a male-dominated field, Rikamae has encountered subtle biases and misconceptions that threaten to undermine her authority. Rikamae said, “Sometimes people underestimate you so easily, they assume you need everything about games explained to you – I am happy to admit that I don’t know everything, but did you know that I once had a guy try to explain my own PhD topic to me?! I think people want to say that the games industry is incredibly modern and has no sexism bias at all, but it is still hidden systematically. It can feel like such a “boys club” when it’s an industry of networking, so it’s important for everyone to elevate the women around them.” Despite these obstacles, she remains steadfast in her mission to elevate women in the gaming industry.

For Rikamae, inclusivity begins with education and awareness. She believes in equipping students with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in an ever-changing industry, while also challenging systemic biases and stereotypes.

As she looks towards the future, Rikamae envisions a gaming industry that embraces diversity and champions the contributions of women at every level. Through her dedication and advocacy, she continues to inspire and empower future generations of game developers to pursue their passions fearlessly. In offering guidance to female students and professionals interested in pursuing a career in gaming, Rikamae suggests, “Know your worth, definitely. Apply for roles even if you don’t think you’re “good enough”, because the worst that will happen is that you don’t hear back or walk away with new connections. Talk unashamedly about what you’re good at and share it with the world unafraid of being called a show-off, because you deserve to be a show-off”.

In celebration of International Women's Day, let the stories of Mai-Ying Tsang, Lena Guerrero, and Rikamae Paderes serve as a reminder of the power of resilience, determination, and advocacy in shaping a more inclusive and equitable gaming industry for all.


You can find other resources below:

Into Games: Into Games are a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing support and insight to ensure everyone can access and thrive in the games industry. Staffordshire University London has partnered with Into Games to offer our students training, mentorship, and unique opportunities to prepare you for a fulfilling career in the games development sector. With a focus on sessions led by industry professionals, the aim of the partnership is to empower students from diverse backgrounds to take a proactive and confident approach to career planning.

Women in Games: Women in Games endeavours to cultivate diversity within the gaming industry by providing resources such as advanced knowledge sharing, access to technology, and impactful mentorship programmes, all aimed at enhancing representation. Staffordshire University London serves as an educational ambassador, dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive learning environment. We support our students with unique opportunities including initiatives, research projects, events, and more.

Girls Who Code: Girls Who Code is a charitable organisation dedicated to narrowing the gender gap in technology by providing girls and non-binary students with essential computing skills for seizing 21st-century opportunities.

Female lecturer teaching her student at a computer.
Talk unashamedly about what you’re good at and share it with the world unafraid of being called a show-off, because you deserve to be a show-off

Rikamae Paderes, Lecturer in Games Development

in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2024

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021