Gaming a real career option for women


9 Mar 2016




Gaming a real career option for women

9 Mar 2016

There’s never been a better time for females to sign up for a career in gaming, according to SAE Institute’s Dr Christy Dena.

With more than half of the gaming population estimated to be women, and the games industry projected to be the fastest growing consumer market in Australia, games design and programing are great study options for women in the creative industries.

Dr Dena heads up the gaming department at the Brisbane campus of SAE Creative Media Institute; a world-class international private education provider delivering courses in gaming, animation, audio, film, design, web and other creative disciplines to more than 10,000 students globally.

Recently appointed SAE’s Chair of the Games Program Committee, Dr Dena will be responsible for overseeing curriculum across Australia and in Dubai.

“While female game developers have doubled in numbers since 2009, there’s no hiding the fact that male designers and developers have previously dominated the games industry in Australia and around the world,” she said.

“So the tide is shifting and it’s such an exciting time to be involved in gaming as a woman.

 “It’s an independent space with no gate-keepers, so opportunities are flourishing at the moment. Women are forming their own successful teams, such as the all-women games company, Smithsoft, in Brisbane.

“At SAE, we work and teach on the assumption that women have always been involved in gaming.  Whenever we talk about the history of gaming, we discuss the role of female programmers because they were often unconsciously left out of discussions in the past.”

 Dr Dena said more high schools were introducing game design and programming classes, reflecting growing global industry demand and career opportunities.

“We haven’t been waiting for women to get ready – we’ve been waiting for everyone else to wake up and take notice,” she said.

As well as focussing on recruiting more female games students, SAE teaches students how to design and make games that are more accessible to people of all genders, sexualities and cultural backgrounds as well as those with special needs. 

“We also emphasise the importance of creating games for different purposes – from entertainment and education to helping affect cultural and social change. This is the way forward for gaming as the industry matures, and it’s something that really seems to attract people to the gaming space.”

Students are also learning creative leadership skills that can help women transition from more traditional roles, such as games producer, to creative lead.

“There’s nothing wrong with being a games producer, but there’s been an under-representation of women in designer roles, programming and creative leadership.

“At SAE, we’re not just about gearing students to work in AAA studios – we’re helping to develop the next generation of independent, entrepreneurial game designers and developers. 

“They may still end up working for a big studio, but it may just be a path – not the final destination.”

Outside her role at SAE, Dr Dena keeps busy as an acclaimed games writer, designer and director highly sought for her expertise in transmedia and teaching practice.

She was granted Australia’s first Digital Writing Residency, has worked on award winning games, film, digital and theatre projects, and has appeared as a keynote speaker at events including Power to the Pixel (London), DIYDays (LA), TEDxTransmedia (Switzerland), and Transmedia Living lab (Madrid). She is also a member of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which presents the Primetime Emmy Awards.

In 2015, Dr Dena helped pull together a workshop for women as part of the Brisbane International Game Developers Association (brIGDA).

“We found that women were craving the opportunity to talk, and to ask the hard questions about their chances of success,” she said.

“It’s really important that we provide these types of forums for women to engage and will be holding more game events in Brisbane as part of the World Science Festival being held this March.”