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"Games change people's lives. I've been amazed by their power to make this world a better place" - Iryna Afanasyeva of Sandsoft Games

We get the real state of play and showcase a world of talent around International Women's Day 2023
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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.

There's great advice for women who want to be part of the gaming world and we find out what's changed, what's changing and what still needs to change if women's voices are to be heard and gaming is to become more inclusive, more entertaining and more engaging for everyone.

We spoke with Iryna Afanasyeva, product marketing manager at Sandsoft for her unique perspective on the world of mobile-first focused games development in Saudi Arabia.

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

Iryna Afanasyeva: I’ve been working as a product marketing manager for Sandsoft Games for about two years. So far, we have published four games and we’ve established ourselves as one of the leading publishers and investors out of the MENA region.

Sandsoft is very much a mobile-first developer, powered by AAA talent. We have ambitious plans in terms of worldwide presence expansion, new games publishing and development, talent recruitment and internship programs in Saudi Arabia, as well as partnerships and investments.

What made you want to work in games?

Games change people's lives; they have a huge impact on various aspects of life and industries. I have been working in games for about seven years, and I've been amazed by their power to make this world a better place. They increase health and environmental awareness, they connect people throughout the world and
influence the opinions of millions.

“The more groups that are represented in various games, the more inclusive the industry is, and the more happiness and fun games can bring to the players.”
Iryna Afanasyeva

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

Spreading awareness on the topic via media, talks and conferences is very important if we're to encourage women and men to join forces and make the industry an inclusive place regardless of gender, age, race or status. It is evident that discussions and efforts are there to support women and change attitudes. It is also evident that there is still much to be done in this area.

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

The more groups that are represented in various games, the more inclusive the industry is, and the more happiness and fun games can bring to the players.

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

Equal access to education from the early stages, internship opportunities and maternity support are some of the most important steps that could be taken in order to encourage women to feel more confident and independent of their choices. The more involved women are in every part of society, the more stable our society is. And this, in my humble opinion, applies to every group: whether we are talking about gender, age, physical capabilities or skin colour.