The Weekly Geek: Women of the Game Developer 50

Last week, we talked about the representation of women in videogames — as characters. This time around, I wanted to take a quick look behind the curtain/camera/development studio doors for a peek at some of the most successful (and real) women who make the games we play and love.

Game Developer magazine, like so many other illustrious publications, publishes a yearly list of the top fifty most important and influential folks in the business. While it’s no AfterEllen Hot 50 list, and sure, kind of a sausage fest (as game development still is, in large part, though that’s slowly changing), there are a handful of awesome, ass-kicking ladies on the list who are leading the charge and innovating the hell out of “interactive entertainment.”

First up is Naughty Dog creative director Amy Hennig, writer and director of the mega-hit Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. She’s been one of the leading game designers in the field ever since her days working with Crystal Dynamics on the excellent Legacy of Kain games back on the original PlayStation, and she’s been at the forefront of successful game storytelling ever since.

The magazine writes:

Hennig helped to create complex, believable, and most importantly, relatable characters. The days of computer marionettes in games are over, and for a title to reach the widest audience it has to have human characters that players can identify with.

Art house hero Kellee Santiago (behind PS3 sensation Flower), appears as part of Indie Fund.

Auriea Harvey is honored alongside her development partner, Michaël Samyn, in the “Evangelism” section.

Megan Scavio makes the list for her excellent work growing the Game Developers Conference:

GDC is the premier venue for game developers to meet up en masse and discuss the issues that concern them, even as the industry evolves and platforms fragment (and then reconvene). Under Scavio’s stewardship, the conference has grown, and its impact on developers has increased, as the sessions and summits focus more and more on valuable takeaways, and less on panels and general discussions — that’s left for the hallways!

Possibly the most interesting – and least “traditional” of the honorees is Jane McGonigal, part of the wonderfully-named Institute for the Future:

As a leading proponent of alternate-reality games and games for change, McGonigal has continually challenged the notion of what a video game is or can be, striving to integrate games into the social world outside the screen. … McGonigal has consistently pushed the boundaries of games and interactive media — but adding social responsibility to that mix is what puts her on our list.

Socially conscious, mind-expanding, and fun? Sign me up!

I’d like to kindly request – no, demand – that Tasha Harris, director of the amazing Costume Quest, be included on next year’s shortlist.

Also, while she’s not a developer, I think that Jennifer Hale (voice of everyone’s favorite space badass, Commander Shepard) be commended for excellence in voice acting. I’m serious.

Am I missing any feisty female developers who really made waves this year? Let me know in the comments.

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