International Women's Day 2024


Global DEI Lead, Fatime Nedzipovska, discusses how we can make gaming a friendlier place for women

This International Women’s Day, we want to highlight just some of the work we’ve been doing recently with the Women’s ERG (Employee Resource Group) at Avalanche Studios Group. After 10 years in DEI, I’m also a little bored with the cake pictures every 8th March. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big of a fan of sugarbomb pastries as the next person. But, really, I want us to take this opportunity to reflect on what we’re doing for the women in our lives, our industries, and beyond. (While, perhaps, enjoying cake.)

The gaming industry hasn’t been known to be welcoming to women and gender non-conforming folks. And yet, in recent years, we’ve seen a shift. It’s been felt by those on the ground, as evidenced by the conversations myself and others have had with women in the industry. Numbers also back this up. Our friends over at Dataspelsbranschen reported that in 2023, women made up 23.4% of the Swedish gaming workforce, up from 21.4% in 2020, and 20% in 2018. This progress is fantastic, but we need to keep the momentum going! 

So, I’d like to take this chance to talk about our recent lunch events with the women of ASG. These lunches, held across all our five locations, were a chance for Avalanchers to discuss where Avalanche Studios Group and the greater gaming industry are regarding the inclusion of women. What could we do more of? What should we do less of? And, of course, why are we doing this in the first place? 

Martina Botic, Talent Acquisition Partner, hosted the event in Stockholm. Martina, then in her first month at Avalanche, did a fantastic job at setting up some truly incredible conversations. “It was very insightful,” she told me. “We discussed the challenges we’ve all faced and how we overcame them. It was a genuine, friendly, and open conversation that left me and – I like to think – everyone else feeling validated and hopeful.”
“Many conversations I had were with industry veterans. Women who had seen the gaming industry at arguably its worst.” She continued, “And yet I left feeling a sense of joy and hope. The fact that this group of relative strangers can find common ground in the challenges we’ve overcome – that we have and will continue to make the industry a better place.”

“It was empowering to share our thoughts in this forum. I felt this sense of validation. Something akin to ‘it’s not you, it’s the world.’ I felt particularly welcomed by the sharing of terminology. Putting words to these experiences, dismantling any lingering feelings of imposter syndrome. We filled poster-size page after poster-size page with notes on what we can all do, anecdotes on where we’ve struggled, and where we’d like to see the industry be. The discussions I had over a sandwich left me feeling hopeful for the future of women in gaming. These incredible individuals who had such varied experiences and lives, all of us coming together and arriving at the conclusion that, together, we have and will continue to really make a difference.”

Continuing our talk, Martina raised something I truly love and wholeheartedly believe. That we shouldn’t, as women, be the only ones fighting for our equality. It takes an effort from everyone, regardless of who they are, to change not just an industry but our world. 

I also spoke to Catarina Batista, Experienced Animator, who took part in the lunch event in my hometown of Malmö. “It was amazing to meet people from the whole office, people you don’t always interact with. I remember, maybe three or four years ago, when I joined the (then, pretty small) Malmö office, we did a similar event. And we were so few of us! Now, all I could think was how many more women and gender-nonconforming folks we are today! Things like these lunches (and the DEI training I just came out of) give me even more trust in this company. I feel like I’m being heard. I’m really excited to see what we get up to next!”

Across one Nordic country and one North Sea, Erin Conlon, Office Coordinator, and the folks at the Liverpool office discussed (primarily) career progression for women or gender-nonconforming people. “It can be tough to put yourself out there in this industry. There’s a real problem with imposter syndrome, especially for those part of minority gender groups. Something that really stood out to me was when one of the individuals there mentioned their career growth. How they really wanted to get to a certain place but felt they should just be more thankful for being where they are. We all just had to say, ‘You know what, no, you deserve to be here as much as anyone else! We all do!’”

“We were a relatively small group gathered for lunch, so our conversation was pretty focused. But it was fantastic getting everyone together. It’s not often we get to have everyone across all the different projects in the office like that all at once. It sparked some great conversations and is absolutely something we’re looking to do again!”

Our work with InnovateHer started at and remains in close contact with, our Liverpool office. InnovateHer is a non-profit that seeks to get young women into tech and make tech a more welcoming place for women. As partners of theirs, we work with them continuously to keep improving across these crucial areas.

Events such as these lunches, as well as the work we’re continuing behind the scenes, are so important not just to the well-being of women at Avalanche, but also to the wider conversation of DEI in the gaming industry. Our four (and more to come!) Employee Resource Groups provide me and the rest of my team with endless insights and opportunities for further growth.

Fatime Nedzipovska

Global DEI Lead