Why ROC: Women in Games initiative


Associate Curator at The Strong Shannon Symonds discussed the Museum of Play’s new initiative “Women in Games” during our Greater Rochester Enterprise Why ROC conversation Wednesday on News 8 at Sunrise.

The conversation also marked International Women’s Day.

“The Strong started actively growing its video game collections around 2009 and it’s now the biggest such public collection in the world,” noted Symonds. “You can’t properly tell the story of play without looking at how video games have changed it in the last few decades.  The Women in Games initiative aims to tell an often untold part of that story, how women have contributed to the video game industry.  We’re aiming to collect the most comprehensive collection of materials anywhere that illuminate their role, and we plan to tell this story through online exhibits and a physical exhibit slated to open in 2018.  We’re particularly interested in archival materials, so personal materials from these women that show how they designed or brought a game to market.”

The initiative will also serve to debunk the belief that only men were behind the creation of these iconic video games.  “There’s often a perception of the video game industry as being male-driven or dominated, but women have been involved from the very beginning, whether working on the line in Atari’s factories in the 1970’s or designing some of the most influential games of all time,” Symonds said.

One of the most well known games designed by a woman is Centipede, but there are others.  “One of my favorite stories is about Roberta Williams, whose materials we already have in our collection,” said Symonds.  “She created one of the first graphic adventure games, King’s Quest.”

With The Strong at its core, Rochester is the perfect place to tell the story of Women in Games.  “Between the museum’s collections and the great work being done in the study and development of games at local universities – especially our partners at Rochester Institute of Technology – there’s a wealth of resources here,” Symonds said.  “These resources provide a great foundation and support system for gaming companies too.  We already have a good base of independent studios like Second Avenue Learning and Workinman, and more and more continue to pop up.  There’s so much innovation happening in other technology sectors in this city, as well, so it’s a great time for video games in Rochester!”

For more information about Women in Games, visit the Museum of Play website, click here.

For more information about Greater Rochester Enterprise, click here.


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