Female Gamers

By Aleissia Laidacker, Lead Developer at the Open Meta Association.

When you think of the maturation of the hi-tech industry, it seems hard to believe that although 45 percent of the world’s gamers are female, fewer than 10 percent (around 9.1%) are coders.

Aleissia Laidacker, Head of Product and Technology at the Open Meta Association, an organising body for the growth of an open Metaverse built on web3 infrastructure (i.e. owned and controlled by the community) believes there is still work to be done to educate young creators about the potential of creative and technical career opportunities for women in the gaming industry.

The rise in the number of different applications as the lines blur about what constitutes ‘a game’, such as socially doing things for the good of the environment, and the rise of a non-violent, more personal Metaverse, is now helping to accelerate a change in thinking. With the advent of the Metaverse, experiences are becoming more and more immersive and compellingly attractive to engage in as the physical world merges with the virtual world. One such example is the rise of the “Musicverse”. The way music is now experienced is rapidly evolving. Virtual worlds are augmenting physical events, and the Metaverse offers an opportunity to inject a sense of wonder and physical experience back into interaction with music. It is an area Aleissia is passionate about, having worked at The Mill, a vibrant network of talented Artists, Producers, Directors and Creative Technologists. Now that the genres have become broader (it’s no longer just about “shoot ‘em up”), it is less intimidating for women and more relatable, she believes. “It’s more about Creative-Arts-Meets-Computing today, making it possible for anyone to follow their passion using the tools available to build experiences of their choice in the Metaverse,” says Aleissia.

Early life

Back in the 1980s, long before computers became an inherent part of everyday life, Aleissia discovered coding via her aunt who had access to the early Microsoft Windows developers. She had a rare opportunity through this route to access a personal computer which fired her imagination to create her own choose-your-own adventure games. Later in the 90s, she was inspired after watching the cult movie, Hackers: a film in which Angelina Jolie – the lone woman in the all-star cast – turned out to be the best coder. Which inspired her to also dive into the realm of Computer Science and Technology.

Following her graduation from Concordia University in Computing Science and Digital Arts – a forerunner of the blended science/creative arts Degrees commonly available today – she went to work at Ubisoft, later becoming one of Ubisoft’s first female Lead Developer on the wildly successful game, Assassin’s Creed, managing a team of over 50, designer, engineers and animators. This marked the start of her career as a Technology Leader in the gaming industry.

It’s about the tie between coding and storytelling and art, and computer science

After High School, Aleissia worked full-time in coding for several years, but her creative side led her to go back to university to study for a Computation Arts Degree. This phase of her life reinvigorated her love for coding, through learning about 3D and immersive experiences, which included a project focused on geo-mapping, and bringing artists together through technology.

Fast forward to the present day

“We are now creating the tools and platforms for game makers to build for all types of content. For example, there’s a big focus on fashion; women can learn about coding and create their own immersive fashion experiences. There’s also a huge emphasis on education, so it’s far more about diverse content creation as the tools are available and are easy enough to deploy as building blocks for the creative content experience. Major gaming engines such as Unity and Unreal have shifted focus from just traditional gaming, to providing more tools to creators to build experience for Music, Fashion and Virtual Production. Platforms such as Roblox and Dreams, for example, are amazing no-code solutions you can use to build your own Metaverse experience, or create your own game,” says Aleissia.

Now, with many universities focused on Arts with Technology and Digital Media, this hybrid role is commonplace where students may have a background in coding, but the creative technology side is heavily focused on creative design, so a blending and democratisation of the tools occur. Emerging-Technology-Meets-Creative-Arts represents the Metaverse which is where Aleissia now works as Head of Product and Technology at the Open Meta Association. It marks the start of a new era and opens up a wealth of opportunities for women in particular.

How long will it take for the industry to catch up?

In 2020, women comprised 36 percent of computer systems analysts, 12 percent of information security analysts, 21 percent of computer programmers, 19 percent of software developers, 28 percent of web developers and 29 percent of database administrators and architects according to the Berkeley School of Information. Clearly there is still some way to go.

Alessia LaidackerAbout the author

Aleissia works with companies ranging from Gaming, Crypto, Theatre, Live Events, Brand Agencies and Tech Companies. She helps clients build experiences and products that utilise emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality, Web 3, AI, 5G, IOT and Immersive Design. Bringing Interaction, Play and Collaboration to their products and experiences.