Women in Gaming “Teaching young girls to code is shattering the stigma that ‘programming is only for boys’”
Women in Gaming
“Teaching young girls to code is shattering the stigma that ‘programming is only for boys’”
Calcalist spoke with the Israeli women changing the future of gaming, with Part 3 featuring Rimon Shushan, NOC engineer, and a programming mentor at QueenB, an organization that helps teach young girls programming
Over the years, the gaming industry has mainly appealed to men. Aside from a few games, like “Sims,” most games starred strong male characters who fought battles, and were mainly marketed to men. As the industry developed, it began to target the female population as well. According to research conducted by Newzoo, today nearly 46% of all gamers are women.
Rimon Shushan, NOC Engineer and programming mentor at QueenB
“From a young age, I was always fascinated by computers and technology, mainly on account of my older brothers. In high school, I was in the computer track and finished with honors. Back then, I knew that this was what I wanted to study. During recess, we’d play the Counter Strike video game, and that was an added bonus. I felt like other people thought I ‘shouldn’t’ be playing those games, and if I played poorly, the boys would tease me for ‘playing like a girl,’ but I never took those comments seriously and kept on playing.
“I could have served in a technological unit in the Israeli military, but instead chose to serve as an elite athlete as I was on the national sailing team for 17 years, and won medals at European and World Championships. Two years ago, I decided to head in a different direction. After the pandemic hit, when no one knew if there would even be a 2020 Olympics, I found my next challenge: pursuing a tech career. I started college, and realized that many programming ideas are essentially computer games. (Although they were more old school, like Snake, Minesweeper, Chess, Pokemon, etc.) Every time we were assigned a project like that in college, I was drawn to it. Each programmer designs their game with an algorithm that is just a little bit different, and that’s the beauty of it. Currently, I work as an NOC engineer for the smart mobility startup, Via.”
Do you think that women in the gaming industry encounter different challenges compared to women in other high tech sectors in Israel? If so, how can society change that?
“I think that women in the gaming industry cope with more challenges compared to women in other industries, like proving that they’re capable of understanding the complex world of computer games, and can get into the deeper layers of the game just as well as their male peers. I think that gender equality has been achieved in other sectors, and that’s important.
“I think that in order to change that mindset - we need to ‘normalize’ the fact that women and young girls can be great players, develop their own high-level computer games, and understand in-depth what that involves. That’s why I think we need to give young girls the chance to try out programming and gaming at a young age through existing educational frameworks.
“I volunteer as an instructor at QueenB, which is an organization that was designed to make the world of technology and programming accessible to young girls. I see how much the girls blossom when they successfully develop code, and I think it’s a double-win for them, because they’re shattering that stigma that ‘programming is only for boys.’”
Do you think there’s a difference between a man’s and woman’s approach when it comes to game design?
“I think that there is a big difference between male and female approaches to game design, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it’s quite the opposite. I think the more ideas and directions you have when developing games, the better the final game will be. Men don’t always think of things that women do, and vice versa. Both sides compliment each other.”