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Scrapping stereotypes in the metaverse with Dubit's Regine Weiner and Steph Whitley

The face of gaming is changing and if the metaverse really is to take hold we need to work together to make it a great place for everyone
Scrapping stereotypes in the metaverse with Dubit's Regine Weiner and Steph Whitley
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Especially for International Womens Day (and continuing all week) we've created a series of interviews to co-incide with the annual celebration of women's achievements all around the world.

Dubit is a full service metaverse agency helping to build experiences, ‘popup’ campaigns and sponsored takeovers on Roblox, Fortnite and Zepeto and more. We caught up with Regine Weiner, head of studio [left in our pic] and Steph Whitley, chief of staff at Dubit [on the right] for their take on the state of play at the edge of the metaverse. 

PocketGamer.biz: Firstly, tell us about your work at Dubit

Regine Weiner: I currently head up the studio here at Dubit. I’ve recently joined the team and wow what a whirlwind it’s been! We had a Roblox first, A Voice Chat Meet and Greet with NCT-127 in their Music Experience, we launched H&M’s Loooptopia, Nickverse hit 10M plays and won an award at Kidscreen, and we are getting ready to bring Nascar into the Metaverse. There’s so much happening here with this incredible team and I’ve only scratched the surface.

Steph Whitley: As chief of staff at Dubit, I act as the main point of contact between the CEO and stakeholders. Key responsibilities include advising and providing solutions on critical tasks and filtering essential information to the CEO to safeguard the operational day-to-day running of the business.

What made you want to work in games?

Regine: I’ve been working in games for over 20 years at this point. From watching my mom and her claw grip conquer Frogger on the Atari 2600 to spending most of my summers at the pool downstairs playing Gauntlet in the lobby with my brother and my friends. My childhood was surrounded by video games and computers. If I had to pinpoint one moment, I’d say it was needing a science credit to graduate from film school and taking the C++ course meant to weed out comp sci majors at Temple
University where Dr. Walowitz said “You should really look into this web stuff”.

Steph: I’ve been working at Dubit for almost seven years - my first day feels like yesterday! I was lucky enough to spend three summers at Dubit when I was a teenager - I worked in different teams, and I loved the idea that choices made in that room helped so many young people have fun, play, and learn. And, I was surrounded by so many creative and intelligent people - what’s not to love!

Do you feel like attitudes towards female gamers and women working in games has changed, and is changing?

Regine: The best advice I think I was ever given was “other people’s opinions are none of your business” and the
second best, “idiots bury themselves”. Combine the two and you find you have more time to focus on actual changes like growing a talented team, putting out incredible games and saving up energy reserves for things that genuinely matter in life.

Steph: When I think of a “gamer” today, I don’t think of the classic stereotype of teenage boys, gaming in dark rooms, alone, for hours on end. It’s everyone and anyone. There are approximately 3.3Bn people who play games, and this is split pretty evenly between males and females, especially in the West. I think this is a view shared by many people; we know girls love to game and this is becoming more and more common.

Generally speaking, I think attitudes towards female gamers and colleagues have come a long way. I have seen some really positive initiatives - communities, events, mentor programmes - that are specifically for women. Having supportive communities gives women opportunities to lean into, for advice, social connections and a feeling that you’re not alone in what is still predominantly a male dominated industry. We’re also seeing more education initiatives around gaming disciplines - encouraging girls from a younger age to enter the industry in the first place is key.

That is all said, as someone who has not directly had to face discrimination or harassment - I acknowledge that this is a persistent issue, and something that many women have unfortunately faced. This is unacceptable, we need to be better, and I wish I had the solution to that!

What do you think that having more women in games can bring to the industry and the games we all make?

Regine: My favourite phrase is, “the games we make are a reflection of the team that makes them”. The more diverse game teams become the wider variety of games get made which benefits the industry, expands the audience even further which eventually helps change perspectives in the world. The Last of Us and Fall Guys are phenomenal examples of this.

Steph: We’ve seen a vast range of research about how females don’t feel represented in the games they play - whether that be female characters in a secondary role, female characters being oversexualised, or just non-existent female characters. This can change, and it feels like it is progressing as more women are in key decision making roles, in game concepting, design
and programming. Individuals have different motivations for playing games - whether that be creativity, mastery
or status. Having a more representative and diverse industry, leads to products which are stronger - there’s more variety for every type of person to enjoy, which, in theory, will attract more people both playing games, and working in games.

Social gaming, and Roblox especially, opens new worlds for gamers to find games that suit them personally, as well as tools to create the games that they want and don't find.

What's the road ahead? How can we encourage more women to get involved and make a difference?

Regine: Change isn’t a sweeping tidal wave that comes out of nowhere. Small ripples that add up over many decades of people prioritising what’s important to them and doing something. Start small, look at the people in your life, team, industry and figure out how you can help them get to where they want to go.

Sometimes it’s an introduction, sometimes you’re in a position to fix a perspective or a problem, sometimes it’s an education and most times - it’s just calling attention to the exceptional work that is being done that has gone unnoticed.

Steph: At Dubit, we’re heavily focusing on metaverse platforms that offer tools that simplify creating 3D worlds and games. By simplifying, more people are able to build. The more people who build, the more content there is, and the more players that content attracts. More players mean more money spent on experiences, and more money attracts more builders.

This flywheel powers the metaverse. It is the same type of flywheel that drove YouTube and TikTok to over three billion monthly users and will drive the metaverse to at least 1Bn users within four years!

For me, this flywheel effect should encourage more women to choose careers in our industry. The barriers to entry are lower, people can try out programming, building, asset creation with little to no risk. And there’s a plethora of content for every personality type to enjoy. If young girls feel like working in games isn’t a viable career choice because they haven’t seen themselves represented - whether that be the content of games, or the mechanics of games - this flywheel goes some way to break that cycle.