Warning: This article begins with a short rant. If you would like to skip over my grumpy reviewer ramblings, please feel free to skim down to where the review begins. I have helpfully placed a header which says in large, bold letters “My Review of Women In Gaming: 100 Professionals Of Play” so it is easy to find. You’re welcome.
When I was offered the opportunity to review Women In Gaming:100 Professionals Of Play, I first took a few moments to check out the reviews elsewhere on the net. I often do this if I am not sure if I will either enjoy or be able to review a non-fiction book.
Many people find this a bit odd. “But Patti,” they say, “Surely, you don’t need to know all about a subject before reviewing a book? After all. If that were the case, how could you review non-fiction?”
On the surface, this seems a fair enough comment.
Personally, I prefer to review a non-fiction book when I know a little bit about the subject. That way I know if the book is doing the subject justice and, consequently, doing its job for the reader.
For example, I wouldn’t review a book about Jazz because I couldn’t tell you if it did a good job explaining the music, it’s fans and musicians. My family would claim that for this very reason I should stop reviewing Dorling Kindersley Cook Books.
But I digress.
I skimmed through a few reviews and knew, straight away that I had to review this book. Let me tell you why.
A large number of the reviews I saw complained that the book had missed out this person or that person and that as such the book as a whole could not be considered a history of women in gaming. I also saw a number of reviews which complained that the book did not adequately address the struggle of women in gaming.
But Guess What?
Women In Gaming: 100 Professionals Of Play does not claim to be a history of women in gaming. Nor does it, at any point, say that this is the “Top 100 Women In Gaming” or “The Definitive Guide To Women In Gaming.” In addition, this book was not created to chronicle the struggle of women in gaming.
No. It is very clearly a compendium created to celebrate 100 of the best known, or most significant women in gaming to date, and as such it does an amazing job.
If you are privileged enough to be sent a non-fiction book for review, know something about the subject matter, the target audience and understand what the book is trying to achieve. Alternatively, have a connection to someone who is in the target audience and has a reasonable understanding of the subject matter.
Oh, and make sure you understand the intent of a book and review against that intent. You wouldn’ review a screwdriver and complain it didn’t work well when trying to hammer in nails so don’t complain a book which is celebrating women in gaming doesn’t turn out to be a sociological essay about women fighting for equality in the workplace.
End Of Rant.
My Review Of Women In Gaming: 100 Professionals Of Play
Women In Gaming: 100 Professionals Of Play was compiled to celebrate some of the best known and influential women in the gaming industry to date. Beginning with the establishment of the industry in the 1970s this entertaining and thought-provoking book moves decade by decade until the 2010s featuring women from all areas of the industry.
Individual bios are interspersed with some short, personal essays such as:
- How Motherhood Can Help – Not Hurt – Working Women
- Virtual Reality: Worlds Within The Wardrobe
- Networking 101
- Feminism: The Rules Of The Game
- Professor Oak’s Age-Old Question
- NPC: On Being Unseen In The Game Dev Community
The final title in the list brings me to my next point. You do not have to know about gaming to enjoy this book. If you don’t know your RNG from your NPC or your VR from your AR, Women In Gaming: 100 Professionals Of Play has you covered. The book begins with a short tutorial that’ll help you sort out your acronyms and other gaming language.
But it doesn’t stop there. You can also enjoy “In Their Own Words,” industry timelines and a number of “A Day In The Life” features. These detail jobs in the gaming industry as diverse as HR, 3D animating, and audio design, as well as journalism, user research analysts, professional gamers and many many more.
The role of female characters in popular culture, cos-play and other cultural aspects are addressed but if you are looking for a “how women are depicted” or “how women are treated” focus, you’re out of luck. This book is an almost 100% celebration of what has been achieved in the industry and the women who have made their mark.
A select few of the remarkable women featured in this book include:
- Ashly Burch: Emmy-winning writer and voice actress.
- Carol Shaw: Early industry programmer, designer, and Industry Icon award recipient.
- Tracy Fullerton: Designer & director of the USC Game Innovation Lab.
- Emily Greer: Co-founder & CEO of Kongregate.
- Perrin Kaplan, Former vice president of marketing for Nintendo of America.
- Jane Ng: Senior game artist at Valve.
- Patricia Vance: Longtime ESRB president & founder of the International Age Rating
- Karisma Williams: Xbox & Oculus VR Senior UI/UX Designer.
- Lorraine McLees: Art Lead at Bungie.
- Rebecca Heineman: Programmer and founding member of Interplay Productions.
If you or someone you know has an interest in the industry or aspires to join it themselves, Women In Gaming: 100 Professionals Of Gaming is an excellent primer and deserves a place on your bookshelf, coffee table, or the floor of your untidy tween.