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Vickie Chen discusses the growing presence of women in mobile gaming

From gamer to CEO: Vickie Chen discusses her history in the industry, and how it's developed.
Vickie Chen discusses the growing presence of women in mobile gaming

Here at we celebrate diversity of all kinds. Speaking to various inspiring women at our Pocket Gamer Connects events around the world, and being aware that there is still a real need to shout about the subject, we decided to focus on females for December. In this series of features we will interview various women working in gaming, as well as sharing other stories around the subject.

We spoke to AviaGames CEO and co-founder Vickie Chen about her experience in the games industry, its success, and where she feels that the games space still has room to grow.

[people id="3066" name="Vickie Chen"]

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your current role?

My name is Vickie Yanjuan Chen, and I am the founder and CEO of AviaGames, Inc. I began AviaGames alongside co-founder, Ping Wang, in 2017 inside a small garage in Mountain View, California, together we built AviaGames' all-in-one social competition platform and subsequent portfolio of Pocket7Games from the ground up with a commitment to providing a fun and fair platform for social and casual gamers to compete with other real people playing their favorite games. My passion for gaming and dream of one day starting my own company became a reality in the garage that day. It’s been an amazing ride ever since as the mobile gaming industry continues to grow at rapid rates and we are seeing more diversity and options where all gamers can enjoy some fun competition, including our own Pocket7Games platform.

What first attracted you to the gaming industry?

As a young girl I had always enjoyed games. From board games to mobile gaming, I have always had a passion for the competition. Before founding AviaGames, I had spent nearly 13 years within the gaming industry, learning from industry greats and using those tools to someday found my own company. In 2017, my previous employer had sold their company and proceeded on to new opportunities, and I saw the untapped potential within the mobile gaming market. I had always enjoyed casual mobile gaming and I wanted to create a platform that allowed players of all types to compete against people across the nation and win real cash and prizes.

What effect do you think the culture within which you grew up has had an influence on your career path?

Growing up as a young girl in China, I loved playing a skill game called Ddakji, or “milk caps”, where you use folded squares of paper to knock over your opponent’s paper square, thus resulting in a win. My love for games only grew with me as I shifted from physical skill-based games to mobile skill-based games. I enjoyed playing a few of my favorite concentration and match speed apps as a way to decompress after a busy day. It was this passion for all types of games that led to the creation of the Pocket7Games platform, designed so anyone can enjoy their favorite games without obstacles, limitations or stereotypes.

What challenges have you had to face during your career - thinking specifically about being a female in the industry?

Throughout my career as an immigrant and female founder within a primarily male-dominated industry, I have been faced with the adversity and criticism that surrounds many females in any type of power. Unfortunately, oftentimes women are perceived as incapable of successfully running any company, let alone one within an industry primarily targeted towards males. These challenges have only driven me to succeed further and reach heights that many never thought possible for a woman. I want to be an example for other women out there and encourage them to follow their passions and dreams, as I did. It is possible, and you will find success throughout your career when putting in the hard work, dedication and time that it takes to achieve your goals. As female leaders in this industry it’s important for us to join forces, support one another as we continue to innovate and lead the way for others towards shifting stereotypes and misperceptions within gaming.

What advice would you give to companies looking to improve equality within the workplace?

I believe this starts with leadership and the shoes being filled with these positions. In my opinion, even something as simple as keeping a more open mind or approaching things from a different perspective can go a long way in moving the needle here. It’s about closing the gender gap in the industry, not opening it more. And, one thing is certain, women are motivated by other women. That said, putting more females in leadership roles and tasking them with driving important initiatives will demonstrate what having drive and a vision and the power of working hard can accomplish, despite gender.

It’s important to build a diverse group of leaders as this will ultimately have a domino effect on the entire company. Fostering a positive work community that focuses on inclusivity for all and encourages confidence in team members’ capabilities and contributions from all individual backgrounds is imperative when looking at how to improve equality within any workplace.

And what advice would you give to other women joining the industry?

Build a strong and supportive community around you. Oftentimes women face discouragement throughout their career as society has conditioned us to believe we cannot achieve the same entrepreneurship goals as men. I personally believe there is nothing more empowering than a female founder than to see fellow females also succeeding within their respective roles and industries. Surround yourself with these likeminded individuals who want to build you up and encourage you to thrive in whatever it is you choose to do.

Who inspires you the most (not necessarily from within games)?

In my career I have had the pleasure of learning from a range of incredibly influential people, including my mentor Zhang. A powerhouse within the gaming industry and founder of one the world’s top gaming companies that is now owned by Tencent, Zhang was an important pillar in the success of AviaGames. Aside from invaluable advice and encouragement, Zhang stepped in when unpredicted development and optimisation needs arose and provided support needed for our company to progress to the next stage. When I look at the success we’ve been able to achieve with AviaGames today, I can’t imagine where it would be if I hadn’t had Zhang in my life.

Since you entered the games industry, what is the biggest change you’ve seen and is this for better or worse?

Looking back to when I first started, I’ve personally witnessed multiple shifts of audiences and the rise in popularity of mobile gaming. And I’m proud to say, the industry has expanded far beyond the stereotypical male battling with friends on a console or sitting in a dark room focused on a PC. Today’s gamers are more diverse than ever before. At AviaGames we conducted an informal survey earlier this year with over 33,000 U.S. female players who have children and are currently active on the Pocket7Games platform that revealed a growing number of moms are now turning to mobile gaming for everyday entertainment, family connection and stress relief. The data reinforces this growing community of casual mobile gamers. I believe the driving force behind rapid changes and growth across the industry is advancements in technology and innovation in game design. Smartphone technology, in particular, has made it so anyone, anywhere has access to high-quality games at any time.

One area of mobile gaming that has seen an uptick in recent years is skill-based gaming. While remaining casual and fun, efforts are being made to create more platforms like Pocket7Games by AviaGames, that challenge individuals based on their individual skill sets, rather than by chance.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be and why?

Much like the tech industry and other sports, the gaming industry has always primarily been dominated by men. This has made it that much harder for women who want to enter this space, especially as an entrepreneur or founder. While we are seeing progress across the industry, there is still a lot of change to be made when it comes to completely closing the gender gap in gaming. One change won’t solve an issue that’s been around for generations however, by providing more leadership opportunities and encouraging females to dive in and take a chance in this industry will be what moves the industry in the right direction. Interviews like this one that are helping to drive awareness and calling out equality within the industry, I hope will motivate other women to pursue their gaming interests and continue to drive the future of diversity in gaming.

If you could only keep 3 games on your phone for the rest of time, which would you choose?

While I love to check out the latest designs and takes on the new challenges and brainteasers that each AviaGames and Pocket7Games title offers, I would have to say my main go-to mobile games include, Bingo Tour, Bubble Buzz and 8 Ball Strike.