Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chicks and Games...

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought it would be interesting to point out some of the very influential women in video gaming history. While generally regarded as a "guy" thing, the fact is 40% of all gamers in North America are women according to a recent Entertainment Software Association Survey. Women over 18 represent a third of all gamers, and make up just about half of the game-buying public.

Let's start with Carol Shaw. Shaw was the very first female game programmer and designer. While working at Atari, she became the first woman to design a game, releasing 3D Tic-Tac-Toe for Atari 2600. She eventually moved on to a career at Activision. Shaw designed games for the Intellivision, Atari 800, and Atari 5200 during the course of her career.

Dona Bailey's story is a little more well known in world of classic arcade gaming, as she was the first woman to design a coin-op game. Together with Ed Logg, Dona created the smash-hit-and-still-classic Centipede. I have to admit that the color combinations were just too cool to be dreamed up by a man. Sadly, Bailey has admitted that the critical eye of male colleagues caught up with her, and she quickly fleed the industry after Centipede proved a success. She now teaches a variety of college-level classes, including game design.

And lastly, but not at all least, we have a woman who shined from the other side of the arcade cabinet. Those of you who are fans of "King of Kong" are familiar with Doris Self's story as one of the first female and the world's oldest competitive gamer. Doris ripped it when she entered the 1983 Video Game Masters Tournament and waltzed away with the world record on Q*Bert of 1,112,300. At 79 years old, Self became motivated to re-enter the competition world. Doris Self passed away at 81 years in 2006, but not before she totally rocked our world on Q*Bert :)
We tip our hats to the underrecognized female gamers out there!