While at PAX, I had the opportunity to attend an interesting panel called Women Own: A Conversation with Researchers, Professionals, and Gamers. The panel was about female representation in gaming, getting more women involved in the industry, and gender roles in games. It was very interesting and I think a lot of great information came out of this particular panel, including a whole research center on gender and gaming at the University of Oregon. However, one of the best things about this panel was the presence of Brittany Aubert. Brittany was there as a Producer at 5th Cell, the company that made Scribblenauts. After listening to her talk though, it was clear that she wasn’t just a girl or a game producer, but a geek, a gamer, and a women with strong opinions, and in my world, that makes her a Geeky Woman Role Model.
Brittany grew up in Northern California but moved to Seattle to attend DigiPen which she calls the “best damn game school in the world”. While surviving a tech school as a woman (which Dawn will tell you isn’t an easy task), she studied to be a game programmer and even made a few games before she graduated including this fun looking one about dreams!
When Brittany graduated, she was offered a job at 5th Cell, where she had done a summer internship, as an Assistant Producer on Scribblenauts. How awesome is that?
Just in case all of this hasn’t been enough Geek Cred about Brittany for you, let me tell you something that may blow your mind: she was a 2007 Omeganaut at PAX. If you aren’t aware, PAX holds an elimination contest of gaming the weekend of PAX called the Omegathon and the people chosen to participate are Omeganauts. It is an honor in gaming to be an Omeganaut and women are still somewhat underrepresented, especially in the later rounds. Brittany was there showing off her gamer goods, which she apparently still has since at the panel this year she threatened to destroy anyone who wanted to play her in Monday Night Combat. I believe it!
Now, I want to talk for just a moment about how Brittany caught my attention during the Women Own panel at PAX this year. As a game producer, she talked about what it is that women want in games, and honestly, I think she nailed it. Women gamers do not want cutesy, animal filled, pink games. We want good games. Good actions games, good shooters, and good RPGs. We want good games in which women aren’t solely sex objects. They don’t have to be the main character, just so long as there are some real women in the game. Is that too much to ask for? I think not! Also, Brittany made one of the best statements at the panel when she said that sometimes to get women interested, all you need to do is give them a t-shirt that fits! So true, as all the geek women out there trying to improve their geek wardrobe will attest to.
Brittany and her very, very lucky husband.
Brittany also talked about getting women into the industry and how hard it can be to get through the education process. However, it was great to hear that once you make it to the job, the gender issues even out a lot. It is important to Brittany to get more women into game programming and production, and with her as a role model, I don’t know why more women wouldn’t want to!
She had a dream to one day have her own small game development group to make cool games. I’m certain that if she still wants to do that, she can absolutely make it happen. Actually, I’m not sure there is anything that Brittany, our awesome Geeky Woman Role Model for September, can’t do!