This featured photo is a stock photo titled “people in a meeting with laptops.” There is one woman. This is the norm in game development.

Imagine if you were the only person in the room that you could relate to. How easy do you think it would be to share your opinion?

The answer, probably not. But in fact, every time a women speaks out in a meeting, it’s not easy. There’s a reason more women raise their hand in a collaborative meeting than men. Men in games (largely) don’t have to prove that they belong.

Women do.

That’s what she said – an example of the best meeting I was ever in

Our regular meeting room is taken so we all pile into a secondary room. The white board is smaller and we really needed all the space. We trade ideas, ways to make a feature better, and midway through the Meeting leader says “Wow, what if we did this thing that it really cool.”

Everyone agrees. A small pause to relish in agreement.

Someone (male) speaks up.

“That’s what Lauryn said.”

A long pause.

People turn to look at me. The lump in my throat from anxiety at hearing my idea coming out of someone else’s mouth was one lump. The lump from joy and frustration at what just happened also appears. It is everything in my power to not let this lump become a mix cry of anger, joy, and tears.

Someone stood up for me.

And I didn’t know I needed them to.

I  never would have said that aloud. I still don’t think I have the courage. Even if I had, it would have come across as [1] impetuous and defensive, because truthfully I would have felt that way; and more importantly, [2] I wouldn’t have been heard.

How We Move Forward

Surround (and encourage a team) of allies

Women need a support network of people who won’t just encourage women, but will champion their ideas and values. The people who are my strongest supporters are also my strongest critics who engage and challenge me to do better. This doesn’t just make me stronger a game developer. It makes me a stronger person. Challenging my bias and believing I can change them, especially when bad meetings have me stopped believing in myself.

Find them. Keep them. Thank them.

Promote Women/POC Leadership

If you’re in a corporate position or have the ear of those at that level, you have to call out where you are inadvertently keeping women in a role that they have outgrown.

How many family BBQs or employee counts of women at the company vs. men does it take to show you how your company is only set up for men at the top? How many women and minorities need to “quit for personal reasons” to see that they were in fact not personal, but professional?

The best way to fight the system is to be the system. To take that energy and focus it in your actions. To all who read this, speak up for your women colleagues. See where your company and actions can be better. See where the system needs to change, and change it in your individual actions if you can’t change them at a higher level. The point is that we can change; we can be better.

We have to.

Stay safe and stay sane out there.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova

Lauryn Ash

Game Designer & Writer

About the Author

A full-time game developer and writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I analyze the world through video games and coffee. Sharing my experience in game design, coffee, and writing. All opinions are my own. Patreon coming soon!!

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