For Damini Pawha (35), rising in the gaming industry, long a male bastion, was difficult. A childhood gaming enthusiast, Damini’s decision to take the entrepreneurial path by launching a game and creating company app was met with skepticism.
“Recruitment was a big challenge as most people refused to take orders from a woman and didn’t trust my skills and abilities to run a gaming business,” says Pawha, director of Appsoleut Coders, a Gurgaon-based mobile gaming start-up.
Hiring women wasn’t an choice as there was hardly any in the industry. Despite being the company’s co-founder, Pawha had to go to great lengths to continuously prove her skills. Today, after half a decade in this industry, she says that not much has changed as women’s gamers are still an alien idea.
Shiji Sunil (44), who heads the Center of Excellence (CoE) in the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) field between ABAI (a non-profit organization) and the Karnataka government, says that this preconceived notion poses many questions about their industry capabilities.
Shift of attitude
For women gaming entrepreneurs, says Sunil, the additional challenge is to persuade investors and banks for funds and loans. Also they are hesitant to consider a woman as professional as a man in the field. “It is disappointing considering it industry’s abundant resources and numerous new job positions including game developers , designers, testers, programmers, managers, etc. have come up,” she adds.
Game designers or artists can receive 25,000-30,000 Rs per month, up to 80,000-Rs 1 lakh. At the other hand, game programmers or project managers may start their career with Rs 40,000-50,000 per month.
Sunil, who joined the CoE in 2018, says there have been no women entrepreneurs from the AVCG sector across India for incubation opportunities. However, the center’s professional development services have few female takers. “Many of them drop to completion because they don’t see a potential career opportunity in VFX and gaming.” The attitude of treating gaming because a ‘man’s work’ needs to shift as well as the propensity to bifurcate gender-based work roles.
According to a 2017 KPMG survey, there are only 17% female gamers in India compared to 83% of males. Charu Tak, a 24-year-old Bangalore game developer, says lack of family support is one of the main reasons women don’t feel comfortable about gaming as a profession. Adding to this is women’s role models’ dearth.
Most parents see gaming as a hobby. Sunil says that parents and students must be introduced to seminars and orientation programmes. “It should help crack the barriers and make them more gender-sensitive to career gaming.”