The makers of Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon and Hellblade want more women to help them make games

Three of the top game studios in the UK have set up a group to help more women get into the industry.

Rare, Playground Games and Ninja Theory, which are all part of Xbox Game Studios alongside other Xbox teams in the UK, have launched Women of Xbox UK to show people what a job in the gaming sector is really like.

The group, led by Rare veteran and Everwild Executive Producer Louise O’Connor, also aims to celebrate the women already working in gaming and build on Xbox’s commitment to diversity.

“I wanted to bring all of Xbox’s UK studios together and create a ‘women in gaming’ community in this country,” said O’Connor, who is currently leading development  on the highly anticipated Everwild. “I see it as a support network for women, as well as a group that talks about and promotes women in gaming. I want to shine a light on the great industry we work in and how it can be a fantastic career path for women.”

Louise O'Connor at Rare

Louise O’Connor

Rare, Playground and Ninja Theory are well known across the world for a host of best-selling games, including Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon and Hellblade. Diversity has grown at these companies over the years but there is still work to do in the wider industry.

According to a UK Games Industry Census from UKIE and the University of Sheffield, 70% of people working in the games industry are male, compared with 28% female and 2% non-binary workers. That’s below the national average and is similar to the proportion of women working in film and TV.

Women of Xbox UK has released a video featuring a selection of women at the three Microsoft studios, who discuss their roles, experiences in the industry and tips on how to land a job.

O’Connor added: “There’s two big things that we can do to encourage more girls to look at a career in gaming. The first is letting them know that it’s a great industry; it’s creative, fun and interesting.

“The second is promoting the industry in a positive way. I have been making games for 22 years and I have had a daughter the entire time. I’ve raised a family at the same time as working on different projects, in many roles. I love my job and I want people to know that this industry is a wonderful place to work.

“In my experience Xbox has always tried to be inclusive, and I’m really proud of the work that the company does for women in games, the support it gives us, and how it strives for diversity.”

Throughout her career at Rare, O’Connor – who is also a games ambassador and speaks in schools on the importance of learning STEM subjects – has seen more women apply for and be offered roles at the company. She said that’s partly because of how game audiences have grown more diverse over the years.

She also offered some top tips for anyone wanting to break into the industry.

“Be passionate about something. Growing up, I was crazy about animation, and constantly watched cartoons and read comic books,” she said. “I think it was because I was always really creative, too. I was treated as a little bit weird, because nerds weren’t cool back then, but it’s OK to embrace your inner weird.

“My advice to anybody trying to get into this industry is to be creative and be as weird as you want in order to bring your creative ideas and thoughts to life. It’s a great industry for people like me who have loads of ideas and can’t keep them in our brain.

“Also, if there’s something you’re not sure about, go seek out somebody on Twitter or LinkedIn. We’re all there and we’re always happy to answer questions.”

You can watch the first Women of Xbox UK video below. To find out more about the group, visit the Rare, Playground Games or Ninja Theory websites.