On the occasion of International Women’s Day celebrated annually on March 8, we spoke to senior women leaders in the Indian gaming industry to get some much-needed insights and perspective on the role of women in the Indian gaming industry, what are some of their successes and challenges, their thoughts on diversity and inclusivity in a career path that’s still predominantly male-driven.
We interviewed two senior women leaders from BlueStacks, an Android gaming platform for PC: Shruti Saini, the Director of Engineering with BlueStacks and now.gg and Juhi Haleja, VP Global Marketing at BlueStacks, now.gg, game.tv. Edited excerpts of responses below:
Shruti Saini - I was drawn to the video game industry because of my desire to be a part of creating immersive and interactive experiences for people. The video game industry was also constantly evolving, with new technology and hardware being developed all the time, making it a challenging and exciting field for me to work in.
Juhi Haleja - I have always worked in tech and have had a ring-side view of the impact it has on everyday lives. Post Covid, gaming saw a meteoric rise, and I saw several use cases for it from entertainment to education and even earning while playing. So, when I got the opportunity to work in this field, I was more than happy to try it out.
Shruti Saini - The industry has undergone significant changes since it first emerged. I remember, I started playing games way later in my life because we did not have access to the new and exciting games, nor did we have the physical equipment to play it. Even when I started, the games were easy to play and not very complex. Through the years, because of the invention of powerful hardware and software, people can play realistic games and complex games. Gaming is now so accessible to people around the world, games can be played on a variety of platforms including consoles, computers, and mobile devices.
Juhi Haleja - I remember when video game consoles were the only way to play games, and the controller was the most important part. Today, it's not just about the game; it's also about the experience, the chance to explore, the ease of use, and the ability to make changes. The story and characters are bigger than life, but they still have to make sense to the audience for them to care. In short, a change in the way things are done to meet customer needs.
Shruti Saini - Many people still see gaming as just a form of entertainment, and not as a legitimate form of art or expression. However, I believe video games can be much more than just entertainment and can be used to explore complex themes and tell powerful stories. Another common misconception is that video games are only for children and are not meant for adults. This is not true, as there is a growing market for games that cater to a more mature audience, and many adults enjoy playing video games as a form of recreation and relaxation.
Juhi Haleja - One of the most common misconceptions is that it is a male-dominated industry. In reality, it is a skill-based industry that doesn't care about gender or age. The idea that only engineering students from top schools can work in the gaming industry is another myth. But that's not how it works. You have to be good at understanding what gamers want and be passionate about games themselves. FYI we have a dentist in our office who is an avid game fan and content creator.
Shruti Saini - The gaming industry has been making efforts to become more diverse and inclusive in all aspects. This includes representation in terms of ethnicity, gender, ability, and age, among others. Gaming companies are making a conscious effort to include a wider range of characters and stories in their games. Companies are starting to prioritize diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices. They are actively seeking out and hiring underrepresented groups. Many game developers and organizations are working to build communities that are welcoming and inclusive to all players, regardless of their background. This includes creating safe spaces for underrepresented groups, as well as providing resources and support for these communities However, there is still much work to be done, and the industry must continue to make a sustained effort to create a more diverse and inclusive environment for all players and developers.
Juhi Haleja - Young individuals of both genders are coming into the business in large numbers. We see both men and women getting jobs in this industry. Still, women in the workforce may face more problems because gaming is seen as a career path for men. This is mostly because old-fashioned bias is still present somewhere in the system. The way the industry moves forward has changed a lot, but we still have a long way to go before we are fully diverse and open to everyone. At BlueStacks alone we have many female leaders across the globe, breaking the traditional bias.
Shruti Saini - One just needs to focus on building your skills and knowledge in your area of expertise. Whether it's programming, game design, or any other aspect of game development, make sure you are well-equipped to perform your role and contribute to the industry. Also, it's important to be confident and assertive in a male-dominated industry. Speak up and advocate for yourself when it comes to your ideas, opinions, and career goals. Don't be afraid to take on challenging projects and make your voice heard. I think it’s critical to have a mentor or sponsor who can provide valuable support and guidance as you navigate the industry.
Juhi Haleja - Upskilling and confidence to make a difference, is what I believe in, to wade through the ideology of the male-dominated industry. The only thing that can make you ignore the noise is your expertise. Therefore, it is essential to be aware, cut the clutter and stay vigilant about trends that can enhance your contribution at the workplace. Secondly, you need to believe this first, that you are strong, and your gender has nothing to do with your delivery, then only it will show it in your actions and will help you survive and thrive in a male dominated industry. Hence, I say confidence.
Shruti Saini - If you're a young girl or woman interested in pursuing a career in the video games industry, I would like to encourage you to follow your passion and pursue your dreams. The gaming industry is full of incredible opportunities and has the potential to offer a fulfilling and rewarding career. Believe that you have the skills, talent, and drive to succeed in the gaming industry. Work to develop your skills and knowledge in your area of interest.
Juhi Haleja - The world is your oyster, and you are free to pursue your dreams. Don't let self-doubt or other obstacles stand in your way. The video game industry provides a platform for any aspiring talent who wishes to contribute to the industry's growth and development. Hone your skills and get better at it every day, and you will make your mark in the industry, whether it is male-dominated or not.
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