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Changing the Game: Women in Gaming

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With the internet booming across the continent over the last decade, the gaming sector has seen vigorous developments. Reports published by the World Economic Forum show that Africa has solidified itself as the fastest growing market globally for mobile games. This is hardly surprising given the demographic trends in the region provide evidence to it being the fastest growing youth population in the world.

Similarly, careers in gaming are highly desirable; the gaming sector has grown into a multi-billion dollar sector with many career paths and innovations popping up at every corner. It is clear that the industry is at an exciting inflection point.

 

But where do women fit in this burgeoning industry?

Women make up 65% of the total number of mobile game consumers in the world. However, only 5% of game developers are women. Despite the majority market for mobile games being women, they are unfortunately not included nor involved in the developing and decision making process.

There is no justifiable reason for this great disconnect between consumer and developer gender representation. In fact, the numbers suggest that more women should be involved in the making of games for a more finessed outcome.

While chatting with Jay Shapiro, a gaming legend and founder of Usiku Games, during the student tour of the Nairobi Game Development Center, he emphasized why it is important to have women in the designing and building stages of games as they understand what the female consumer market wants and needs, and can therefore help shape more relevant and relatable games.

Like many industry insiders, Jay believes that opportunities abound for women in the gaming industry if only the spaces are made more conducive for them to thrive.

 

Building a Pipeline For Women in Gaming

The inclusion of female perspectives in game design is not just a nod to diversity for its own sake; it is an important step towards creating a more engaged, nuanced and representative gaming experience that resonates with a broader audience.

Kevine Nzayanga, a codeHive alumni joined Usiku Games as an intern where she quickly found her passion in gaming and has now secured a full time developer role in the company. She stresses that it is important for young women to dare to explore the gaming industry.

“Being a professional game developer is a win-win bargain because you get to play and have fun while working and earning an income, and frankly not many people can say that! And though it might not seem like a possible career choice for many, gaming is one of the best sectors women can explore.” She added happily

It’s exciting to see that initiatives aimed at supporting women in gaming are gaining momentum, and companies like Usiku Games are at the forefront pushing forward the inclusion of women in the creative process.

In partnership with AkiraChix, Usiku Games is ensuring young women get the exposure they need to see themselves as developers and not just consumers. They aim to achieve this through a 6 months initiative where all codeHive graduates can get free access to the Nairobi Game Development Center and the opportunity to interact and learn from professional game developers. The good that this will do cannot be overstated.

 

Moving Forward

From a business perspective, embracing the female voice is not just the right thing to do but a strategic move to make. Women can be at the forefront of technological breakthroughs if we begin to change the biases that keep them out of the decision making process.

While we are optimistic that the industry will continue to gradually appreciate and recognize the value of diverse perspectives, we remain committed to ensuring that young women with the greatest barriers can dream of a future in the gaming industry.

We believe that it is within this vibrant ecosystem that we will see a transformational impact when women’s voices and opinions are amplified.