Each year on March 8, we celebrate the achievements of women from all walks of life on International Women’s Day. Representation and gender equality in the games industry is an ongoing discussion and something that we believe is critical to creating and fostering an industry we can all be proud to be a part of.
In observance of International Women’s Day 2022, this week we’re highlighting some of the incredible female industry leaders that we are honoured to have speaking at our upcoming Seattle conference. We could not be more excited to have them as part of our star-studded speaker line-up, and we couldn’t wait until May to get to hear from them and to share their brilliant insights with our PocketGamer.biz readers, so, we had a chat with them about business, games and, of course, what it means to be a woman in games. We recently spoke with Geogrify’s CEO Kate Edwards, you can read our conversation here.
Diversity is important because each person has a unique set of experiences which inform their perspective.Fertessa Allyse
Next up on our Spotlight series is Fertessa Allyse. Fertessa Allyse began as an independent board game designer and designed Book of Villainy, Wicked & Wise, and Mansplaining (co-designed by Mondo Davis). She then joined the Funko Games team as a game producer and currently spends her days designing and producing games for the mass market.
PocketGamer.Biz: What game has been on your phone the longest?
Fertessa Allyse: Boardgame Arena has been on my phone the longest. It gives me access to hundreds of board games to play digitally. You can play with strangers or friends and it’s free.
Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?
Diversity is important because each person has a unique set of experiences which inform their perspective. And no matter how empathetic someone may be or how much they may have researched, they will still never know how it feels to be any other person or how it felt to go through their experiences. So when you make products, policies, or decisions, those will always be limited by personal experience, and if you only hire people with similar looks or backgrounds as yourself, everything you and your group touch will reflect that sameness.
When you make products, policies, or decisions, those will always be limited by personal experience, and if you only hire people with similar looks or backgrounds as yourself, everything you and your group touch will reflect that sameness.Fertessa Allyse
How do you think the portrayal of women in gameplay can be better?
I think there is still a large gap in options when it comes to picking characters when it comes to hair and clothes. Whether it’s board games or video games, as a black woman, there are usually only one or two options to pick from. Very rarely are either options appealing. Black hair is naturally curly for most of us, so being expected to use characters with straight hair or settle for an afro or braids is insulting. Our hair is not usually naturally straight. When it comes to outfits, I would love to see cool or casual outfits that don’t need to emphasise that my character is female.
Which women in the games industry do you admire or look up to?
I look up to Deirdre Cross, a VP at Funko Games who has helped grow the company from an independent freelancing agency to a significant presence in the board game industry. She is often the face of the company, marketing our games and doing all the footwork necessary to lead the company to success while also keeping being fiercely vocal and proactive about the visibility of women within the industry.
Hear more from Fertessa this summer
Want the opportunity to hear more from Fertessa Allyse and the Funko Games team? She’ll be leading the conversation at the upcoming Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle among hundreds of other incredible industry leaders. Make sure you secure your spot at our west coast conference today and save up to $275 with our Early Bird offer before prices rise.