Pic left to right: Abigail Sherlock, Eve Crevoshay, Kate Edwards, Rebekah Little
The Women in Games Global Awards 2022 are open for nominations and, with that in mind, we’re kicking off a series of articles talking to some of our 2021 winners…
First up, we have Rebekah Little who won an award in the University or College Student Portfolio category; Abigail Sherlock, who also won a student award, but also took the prize for Best Game developed by a Woman/Women for Heirloom; Eve Crevoshay, Executive Director of Take This which won the Video Game Advocacy Award; Kate Edwards, CEO of Geogrify who was inducted into the Women in Games Hall of Fame.
What did it mean to you to win a Women in Games Global Award?
Rebekah Little: I was legitimately stunned. There are so many amazing women who work in games and who deserve this level of recognition. Being selected for the award is no small honour. Beyond feeling extremely validated for the years of work I put in to get to this point, I’ve found the award has given me a wider platform. I’ve been invited to speak about my industry experiences in podcasts and to young people at school through the lens of being a successful woman in games. I didn’t have any women to look up to professionally when I was growing up, and it feels nice to know that I can be that missing link for young girls and women now.
Kate Edwards: Any form of recognition by your colleagues and peers is a great honour, and I was truly humbled and thankful to be recognised in this way by the WIG community. Everything I’ve done throughout my 28+ year career has been focused on trying to do the right thing and make better games and a better industry. So, I haven’t spent much time at all reflecting on my past or what I may have accomplished. So, to be given an honour such as this is also a great opportunity to stop and reflect, and I really appreciated that chance.
Abigail Sherlock: I have such fond memories of the whole Women in Games Award process! From recording the acceptance video with Kathryn on the balcony in Sunny Southern California to watching the Twitch live stream in Target while I was grocery shopping and letting out a loud shout when I heard the game title on stream. These are very specific and important moments that will stick with me for a long time. Also, Heirloom was not just an indie project to win but also as a student title in the category. To see it recognised in such a manner speaks not just of the quality of our game, but hopefully to show other indie developers out there that no matter your level within the industry, there is space for you.
Eve Crevoshay: The award went to the organisation I lead, Take This, and it was a very wonderful affirmation that what we’re doing matters to folks across the industry – especially to those who have experienced the greatest number of challenges to their mental wellbeing and resilience, due to their identity.
Why is it important that women in games and esports are recognised via awards like this?
Rebekah Little: In general, women don’t tend to be recognised for their achievements in the same way that cis men are. This is especially true in traditionally male dominated industries such as the games industry. Given the toxic nature of some segments of the industry and how much focus that part of the industry gathers from the media, we have a responsibility to encourage good practices and reward people for their hard work.
Only by being advocates with both our words and actions can we encourage a more equitable industry that attracts and retains talented women. By rewarding women, we create role models for the future generation and encourage fair work practices.
Beyond this, having diverse voices involved in the development of games has been shown to increase quality, the range of experiences available and instances of diverse representation in games themselves. The media informs our socio-cultural norms and having more representation in that media will correspond to more acceptance and awareness of diverse peoples and their lives in real life.
Kate Edwards: While we all are striving to do our very best, and to follow our aspirations and build our careers, I think it’s vital to highlight people who might be seen as role models and/or mentors who can help others along a similar path. Without that purposeful recognition, women remain a small minority within the game industry and esports, and we need to elevate ourselves as much as possible to inspire more women to join us in this industry.
Abigail Sherlock: Visibility but also celebration! By having an awards ceremony, we are able to see more games we wouldn’t get to see normally or have access to. Elevating the types of intersectional games and narratives being showcased helps level up our medium as a whole, by pushing the boundaries of what games even are and what their purpose is. Games are in the neatest place of being a part of new technology, and the expectation of the future and innovation is to create brand new ways of engagement and inactivity, whether that means storytelling, character, design or hardware wise. Secondly, celebrating our projects, teams and work I believe is important for morale to help individuals stay within the games space for longer periods of time. ]
Eve Crevoshay: In short, representation matters. When we see ourselves reflected in the spaces where we want to be, it’s validating – and when others see us in those spaces, they are reminded that we deserve to be there.
Who are the women – in games & esports and beyond – who inspire you?
RL: My first inspiration is my mentor and friend Emma Losin who has encouraged me to be my best professionally by recognising my own worth and strengths. This last year in the industry would have been much more difficult without her advice, encouragement and connections.
I’m also a huge fan of Ellen Rose, who apart from being very talented herself, has such a lovely genuine personality and uses her platform in games journalism to advocate for others. In particular, I know she is very passionate about gender equality, encouraging and supporting women and girls who play, stream and make games.
KE: There are many women who’ve inspired me over the years from a variety of creative and scientific fields, such as Brenda Romero, Sheri Graner-Ray, Rhianna Pratchett, Kiki Wolfkill, Shannon Lotfis, and so many others. Many of these women are now friends, peers and former colleagues, and they’ve all had a significant impact on my career path and give me hope and confidence in an industry that continues to strive to become more inclusive, even when we have to be vocal and fight for it.
AS: There are so many! I think peers can be inspiring and also are such a gift in their support and community. I find myself seeking out mentors and sponsors who reflect the values that I also believe are important, which was really grounded by my experiences with the IGDA Foundation. By surrounding yourself with folks doing the kind of work you want to do, you slowly start to learn more about yourself and your work processes by osmosis.
I was inspired with Heirloom by my creative partner Kathryn and our collective experiences. Our respect for the genre and one another made it easy to collaborate and improve the project.
There are a couple in the games space I’ve gotten to interview and talk with in my hosting on camera work like Victoria Tran, Nika Nour and MissHarvey that stand out. They are in many different areas of the industry but all doing work that is deeply impactful and wide reaching. On a personal note, my mother was a working mom from when I was a small age, so I believe I grew up knowing that women were capable, strong and inspiring. She also had a large number of close female friends mostly from her career that she talked with all the time, and they were very much positive forces in my life growing up. Seeing that as the normal standard for relationships set it as a goal for myself when I entered the professional world.
EC: Oh wow! There are so many women leaders that I learn from every day. I work directly with Anita Sarkeesian and Susanna Pollack, both non-profit leaders in this space that have taught me so much. Across the industry, I have so much respect for folks like Chelsea Blasko, Jenn Panattoni, Connie Geppert, and Zsuzsa Jakab, who have all been examples, supporters, and inspirations to me.
Outside of winning the Women in Games Award, what have been your greatest achievements to date?
RL: I’m particularly proud of the work I put into my formal qualifications. Beyond my Diploma in Professional Game Development, I also have a Masters of Teaching (Secondary) and first class Honours in Physics (Particle astrophysics). During the time I was studying, I had severe chronic spinal problems which forced me to reduce my load at various points, and at a different point was working up to five jobs in addition to study. I’m incredibly thankful for the support I received from my loving partner and family during that time.
Within the games industry, my most exciting achievement has been writing and designing for Star Trek Lower Decks: TBD. When I found out that my writing was approved as cannon by Mike MacMahon and the CBS team, I was completely dazed and, as a Trekkie, I plan on telling everyone I meet until my last breath. In addition, I worked on analysing the narrative metrics of the show and translating those in narrative beats for the game. This work has enabled me to give several industry talks at various events relatively early in my career.
Outside work, my biggest achievements pertain to my long history of community and volunteer work. I’m proud to have organised and run multiple youth programs, volunteered at schools and hospitals, and fundraised thousands of dollars for various charities over many years.
KE: The various awards and recognitions I’ve received over the years are truly humbling and I really can’t express enough how much gratitude I have for the recognition. But beyond these overt forms of recognition, my greatest achievements are focused on being fortunate enough to work alongside so many amazingly talented people across this industry, and work on so many games and franchises that have been favourites of mine for decades. I suppose one of the higher career achievements I often reflect upon is the chance I was given to deliver a cornerstone Monday night lecture at the Royal Geographical Society in April 2019. It was a rare opportunity to speak to my peer geographers at a great scale and in such a historical location, and the fact that I got to deliver a message about the cultural impact of games just made it that much more gratifying.
AS: There are a couple! I was elated to speak at the Game Developers Conference 2022 as a part of the Narrative Summit at age 24. That felt like a huge milestone and to do so on a topic so close to my heart, like theatre, was very special. On a personal note, being the first person in my family to get a Masters Degree was also very affirming and exciting. Most recently a VR game I acted in as the leading female character was nominated for a YUGO BAFTA Award and we’ll be attending the ceremony this July!
EC: Take This has increasingly been recognised as an authority and influencer across games, and we’ve been recognised with some streaming awards for our mental health content. In addition, I’ve been recognised by Games for Change, GamesBeat, and GDC (as a member of their advisory board). We’ve also had the pleasure of partnering with a number of great companies and organisations, including Riot Games, Hyper Hippo, Quantic Dream, and others.
If you had a message to a woman taking her first steps in a career in games or esports, what would it be?
RL: Find yourself a mentor who is a woman in the games industry and who is prepared to advocate for and support you in your journey. Having a support person in the industry is invaluable. They will talk you up when you start to doubt yourself, push you to achieve more than you thought you could, and help you find the opportunities you need to succeed.
KE: More than anything, I encourage women to follow the wisdom of the American writer Mark Twain, and remember that “Comparison is the death of joy”. In other words, stay wholly focused on becoming the best you, improving your own skills, and actively seeking mentors and guidance – and stop worrying about how your progress compares to people around you (and sadly, social media seems designed to do nothing but force us to compare our lives to others).
As you progress through your life and career, ultimately all that matters is how you continue to become a better version of yourself and not other people. And lastly, don’t forget to have fun. If you’re not doing something you truly love, then stop now and change direction. Life is far too short to wait for a better future – you need to be actively working to create it for yourself.
AS: Similar to my answer before about finding mentors and sponsors, I think honouring and valuing your fellow peers around your age to find trusted colleagues is vital. You will come up in the same generation with them, and having knowledge of other folks and what they’re doing in the games space is essential. We are united usually around similar hobbies and activities so cultivating fellowship is usually not as hard as you might think! Research the folks whose career you think you want to have and see how they got there! Where did they go to school? What were they involved with? What companies did they work for? Did they work in other industries besides games?
EC: Games and esports careers are usually driven by a love of the sector and a passion for play. That’s a really cool thing to be able to do, but it also means that we can let our excitement for being in this industry cloud our judgement about whether a particular job or work situation is actually healthy. Remember that good boundaries, good work-life separation, and your emotional and physical wellbeing are always worth more than any job or opportunity – especially over the long term!
For more information on the Women in Games Global Awards 2022, and to nominate yourself and others, click here.