Women’s History Month: Inspirational Women

Our Women’s History Month celebration continues here at Crystal Dynamics, we’re celebrating with great content and great causes – don’t forget the official International Women’s Day “Embrace Equity” campaign, raising awareness for the IRC’s “Women Won’t Wait” fundraiser is live here, and on March 30th at 11am PT we’re hosting episode two of Crystal Convos, showcasing several of the talented women on our narrative team. In this blog, we feature more quotes from industry and from the book Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play, which you can download here!


“It’s hard for me to pick one woman because so many are leading the charge; women who stepped up in the world of gaming and prominently said ‘we belong here.’ In the last year alone I’ve had the opportunity to learn about and be inspired by the first Black woman game designer, Muriel Tramis, and I’ve worked alongside awesome industry women like Angela Roseboro. I see women who are always pushing for gaming at large to be better, such as Victoria Tran, Kristi Anderson, and Liana Ruppert. These are bold, front-facing, outspoken women, and what I aspire to be as a budding community manager.”

Vanessa Brasfield | Community Coordinator | Crystal Dynamics | Aurora, CO


“There are countless women in games who inspire me. In fact, I’d probably say all of them do—all for different reasons. I’ve always looked up to people like Bonnie Ross, Jade Raymond, and Amy Hennig who are leading studios and making incredible, world-renowned games. I’m proud to have them as leaders in our industry, working behind the scenes to create experiences we love, often for people who don’t even realize the contribution they had.”

Alanah Pearce | Writer/Producer | Rooster Teeth | Los Angeles, USA

“When I was deciding what to do with my life after high school, I knew I wanted to work in games. I had no idea what I needed to do or study to become a developer, because there were no game schools or courses at the time. But I knew it was possible for me to become a game developer, because I had played the King’s Quest games, and was aware that they were designed by Roberta Williams. Because Roberta was so prominent and respected, I assumed that this was an industry where women belonged. I am so grateful to all the women pioneers in the field who gave me that impression. That list would also include Brenda Romero, Rieko Kodama, Carol Shaw, Jane Jensen, Sheri Graner Ray, Dona Bailey, and others who made it possible for me to follow in their footsteps, simply by finding their way into the industry and doing such great work. I owe them so much.”

Anna Kipnis | Senior Gameplay Programmer | Double Fine Productions | San Francisco, USA

“All the women who work and contribute in Gamaga. I get to see their passion, skills, and constant efforts to grow and be better. These women don’t see themselves just as a gender in the gaming industry, but their skills and impact in achieving the best games in the best work environment in South America. They give me, and Gamaga, their full trust and support in what we believe as a company. They push us and their teams to be better, to achieve our goals, and to always exceed expectations. I cannot select just one woman who inspires me when I’m surrounded by these incredible people showing what they are capable of and their constant will to make a difference. If I fail to them, I will fail too many others who deserve the same opportunity to grow this industry to make an impact and do what they love. It’s because of them that I know I can—and must—do everything in my power to take this company and industry to the next level.”

Fernanda Contreras Stange | CFO | Gamaga Inc. | Santiago, Chile

“That would be Louis Van Baarle, also known by her artistic name, Loish. I began to follow her work back in 2012 and was immediately drawn to her cartoonish style and her skill in using colors. Then, in 2017, I learned that she had worked as a concept artist for the character Aloy from the game Horizon Zero Dawn by Guerrilla Games. That’s when I realized maybe my cartoonish style might be cool to enter in games or animated movies. To some, seeing other artists creating ‘better’ art than you might be a downer and sometimes I do feel that way. But the thing is, they wouldn’t be as good as they are now if they didn’t train and keep doing their best to surpass themselves and see themselves evolving. Even if that evolution is slow, if you keep trying, you will definitely see the results. My goal is to use my reference artist as Loish, deconstruct their work, and learn from it.”

Ines Borges | UI Designer and Game Artist | Elifoot 18 & GameNest | Lisbon, Portugal

“My biggest influence to get into games writing was Francesca Reyes, who was editor-in-chief of the Official Xbox Magazine at the time. Not many women held leadership positions, especially the key role of editor-in-chief. I always looked at Fran as paving the way for other women like me. I think it said a lot that she was visible and active, so up-and-comers could look and say, ‘I can be there some day.’ I also just loved her passion for video games, which always shined through in her writing.”

Kimberley Wallace | Features Editor | Game Informer | Minneapolis, USA

“I’ll be honest, until recently there were not many women in the spotlight so most of my inspirations are industry figures I’ve only come to know recently. Women like Amy Jo Kim, Brenda Romero, Elizabeth LaPensée, and Kate Edwards all do things I find inspiring, whether it be in the actual game design process itself, or their interactions with—and examples they set for—the game development community.”

Kimberly Unger | Mobile/VR Producer | Playchemy | Burlingame, USA

“Maja Moldenhauer from Studio MDHR. She wears many hats in the company in a formidable way, combining work and family. Also, there’s no way someone would guess she’s a game developer by looking at her— and that’s awesome. We need different faces in front of our industry. Another woman who inspires me is Martina Santoro from Argentina. When I started focusing on the business side of our studio, I felt quite alienated since there where not many women in visible business roles out there, and the image in my head was of boring men in suits. Martina showed me you can be passionate and involved in the industry and was a fresh role model for me.”

Laia Bee | Co-Founder | Pincer Games | Punta del Este, Uruguay

“Bronwen Grimes of Valve. When I was just a student, she took the time to help mentor me. It is something that I will always be grateful for and I truly feel it helped me to push my own career down the right path. Not only that but she is a brilliant technical artist. Finding creative solutions to solving games’ visual problems.”

Rachel Day | Senior VFX Artist | Blizzard Entertainment | Irvine, USA

“Before I started showing up to gaming events, esports were a focus of my college papers. I wrote about women making an impact at the time: TossGirl competing in StarCraft; VAN3SSA and Kat Gunn playing Dead or Alive in the Championship Gaming Series; and Athena and AthenaTwin, the twin sisters who founded PMS Clan. When I got the chance to interview Amy (Athena) and Amber (AthenaTwin) about their clan, they asked me to join it. When I finally met Vanessa and Kat, it was as fellow competitors on the show WCG Ultimate Gamer. One day, when I meet TossGirl, I plan to say the same thing to her that I said to the others: ‘Thank you! I followed you here and I’m trying to bring as many with me as I can.’’’

Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico | esports Host | CSA | Irvine, USA

“There are a lot of them, but the one who made me want to join the industry as a professional is beyond a doubt Jane Pinckard. After five years of university, I wasn’t too sure where to go. At the time, Jane was an editor on 1up.com and host on the 1Up Show. She also had a blog called ‘Game Girl Advance,’ which I read avidly. Her take on video game culture and history, as the way she made it accessible for someone who had missed out on the latest generation of consoles, was unprecedented to me. She was showcasing videogames as a culture and an art, and I found myself wanting to take part in that.”

Catherine Vandier | Marketing & Communications Manager | Electronic Arts | Guildford, UK

“Ally McLean is a constant source of inspiration for me. She sees a problem that needs to be addressed and takes practical steps to address it. By launching The Working Lunch mentorship program (which I am grateful to be a part of), she has been able to directly provide entry-level women with skills, contacts, and confidence to enter the games industry and, at the same time, assure a future where they won’t be the only women in the room. Ally works tirelessly so the next generation won’t have to experience what we have. I’m lucky to have her as a colleague and a friend.”

Rae Johnston | Editor, TV & Radio Presenter | Junkee | Sydney, Australia

“One of my video game developer heroes is Brie Code, the CEO and creative director of TRU LUV and former programming lead at Ubisoft. One of the things that inspires me about her is her interest in making games for people who don’t like games, and her work on games where the mechanics are not driven by the player getting an adrenaline rush. Instead she promotes tend-and-befriend, a concept similar to fight-or-flight, where under stress instead of wanting to fight or flee, a person becomes more aware, fearless, and protective due to the release of oxytocin instead of adrenaline. It’s important to explore these different human responses through games, as they allow us to create experiences that appeal to different audiences. A lot of the most well-known games are still seen as aimed at the male population, but by incorporating different methods of interaction and play, we can create games that other large demographics identify with and enjoy playing.”

Jodie Azhar | Technical Art Director | Creative Assembly | Redhill, UK

“At the end of my first year of study in game art and design, one of my favorite games at the time came out—Assassin’s Creed. For a long time, I loved the game and the sequels that followed. I loved the vast world it created, the unique story, characters, the gameplay—everything. One of the producers and major contributors of the franchise was Jade Raymond. The game industry has always been a male-dominated industry, and at the time, her role in that franchise really inspired me. For her to be part of something for so long and help it grow into the success that it is many sequels later is so impressive. Then, for her to move on to become the founder of Ubisoft Toronto is incredibly inspiring. It’s so great to see strong women leave their mark and create something big.”

Daryl Hanna Tancinco | Senior Artist | Infinity Ward | Los Angeles, USA

“Laura Fryer is one of the most amazing women in the industry I’ve met. I feel fortunate to have worked for her, to have been mentored by her, and to be able to call her a friend. Laura exudes sincerity and passion for everything she does, whether it’s inventing new technology, making games, or forging new paths for people to share knowledge and innovate together.”

Dana Cowley | Senior Marketing Manager | Epic Games | Raleigh, USA

“Laila Shabir, the founder of Girls Make Games, is a woman in the industry who inspires me. She’s made such an impact on so many young women’s lives. And, in turn, when those women go out and get jobs in the game industry, they impact the teams they work on, the games that are made, the companies they work for. All of us benefit from Laila’s efforts. She’s really created something remarkable.”

Kirsten Duvall | VP of Business Strategy | BlueprintReality Inc. | San Francisco, USA

“Lucy Bradshaw. Lucy is the kind of low-key leader who understood the value of a diverse team and actually hired a diverse dev team long before there were any hashtags.” Jane Ng | Artist | Valve | Bellevue, USA

“Keza MacDonald is one of the most inspirational women in our industry. I’m lucky enough to call her a friend, but I am constantly inspired by her intelligence, wit, work ethic, dedication, passion, and humor. She has an incredible way with words and I love reading her work. She is able to express herself and stand by her words and work while rising above harassment and negativity in a most inspirational way. She really is something special.”

Hollie Bennett | Channel Manager | PlayStation Access | London, UK

“There are three women I really like in the game industry and I look at them as wonder women and as models in the industry: Brenda Romero, for being one of the first woman to earn a role in the industry, thanks to her technical skills, also by contributing to creating the industry itself; Debbie Bestwick, for her strong approach to business at Team17 and the ability to follow her passion since she was a young girl and make a satisfying job out of it; and Kiki Wolfkill, as I really admire her tenacious attitude and how she arrived to cover her actual role, starting from an artistic background.”

Giulia Zamboni | Producer | Gamera Interactive | Padua, Italy

“It would be hard to just say one woman. There are multiple women in the game industry who inspire me. The strength of Lei Baustista-Lo; the adaptive programmer, Michelle Chen; the grace of Pamela Ann Puen, who can take on any client and task; the immensely creative game designer, Luna Javier; the talented artist, Patsy Lascano; and Abigail dela Cruz. Women are celebrated and well respected in the local industry.”

Gwendelyn Foster | Game Developer | Imayon Studios | Manila, Philippines

“Sheri Graner Ray. She literally wrote the book on gender-inclusive game design. She was a voice for women in games from the very beginning, created the first professional association dedicated to women in games, and has fought tirelessly for diversity. She’s a legend.”

Brenda Romero | Game Designer & CEO | Romero Games | Galway, Ireland

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