Lauren Kaye: Reshaping The Role Of Women In The Video Game Industry

7 mins read

The She Plays Games Podcast is in the video games Leisure category, but it’s not really about video games. 

It’s about the women of the gaming industry—and there are only a few. However, the numbers are growing.

Lauren Kaye, the creator and host of the She Plays Games Podcast, is a gamer. Her favorite game was Kingdom Hearts, so when one of her good friends decided to create a podcast about it and asked Lauren if she would be interested in co-hosting, it was an easy “yes”: 

“I was just like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ I’d never done podcasting before, but I had done a bit of acting. I really enjoyed talking and presenting, too, so I just said, ‘Sure!’ Then, I fell in love with podcasting. I could spend an hour every two weeks talking with my friends about my favorite video game series!”

In fact, Lauren loved hosting so much, she ultimately ended up hosting or co-hosting up to four podcasts at a time. Then came the inevitable burnout: 

“We had Kingdom Hearts, another podcast based on the game Final Fantasy Union, another that was more of a generic sort of gaming show, and finally, a community-based gaming podcast. It got to a point where we were a bit burned out, so we finally decided to just take a break. We gave up ownership of the Kingdom Hearts podcast, letting other hosts take that one over. Finally, it came down to just the Final Fantasy one that my husband and I did, which was really nice, only talking about that one game.”

Then, along came YouTube, and Lauren and her husband started producing video around the video game industry. But it wasn’t enough. “We got really successful on YouTube, and it just got to a point where I felt like I wasn’t as fulfilled as I wanted to be. I saw a real opportunity in the games industry, because there weren’t really a lot of podcasts focusing specifically on women and their various roles within it.”

Historically, the video game industry has been male-dominated. From the players to the streamers to the developers of the games, men are the norm. And in an industry that is worth around $300B with over 2.9 billion players worldwide, there are endless opportunities to make your place in the industry… if you are male. 

This is what motivated her to launch her own podcast, She Plays Games.

Lauren decided to seek out women like herself, who were not only interesting in gaming, but part of the industry. She went to LinkedIn and searched for women with careers in gaming. 

“When it came to looking for guests, I tried to figure out where the story was in what I was seeing. Where’s the thing that we really need to pay attention to? A lot of the people I reached out to were just starting out, so soon, it very much became whoever would say ‘yes.’ It was a lot of pitching. It was a lot of, ‘Please, could you come on my podcast and just talk about your role? I swear I’m not a creeper. It’s legitimate. It’s fine. I just want to ask you a few questions about what you do.’” 

She Plays Games has allowed Lauren to connect with the gaming community in a different way while really getting to know the women in the industry. 

“It’s been really incredible, how weirdly great the networking opportunity is. The biggest thing about the podcast is raising the profiles of the women I interact with. But as a bonus, I’ve met so many people, I’m never really lonely when I go to events anymore. Because there’s nothing worse than going to an event and not knowing anybody, so you just sit there alone. 

“I remember when I was invited to The Women in Games Conference by the Women in Games organization. They have been so supportive from day one. So, I went, but I didn’t know anyone there. I just had to kind of pull myself up, go to a table, and say, ‘Hi, my name is Lauren. How are you doing? I am starting a podcast called ‘She Plays Games.’ I only have a few episodes out, but that’s what I’m doing. What do you do?’

“That has definitely turned a corner in the last year or so. Now, I’m not the deer in headlights I used to be. And it’s not, ‘What do you do?’ It’s, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve heard of you!’ 

“I just went to an event recently where people who worked at Apple Podcasting came up to me and  were like, ‘Yeah, we know who you are!’ And it just felt so validating, knowing they actually listened to my podcast. That was also just so bizarre. But generally speaking, the people I’m getting now have more and more of a following. It’s been really great to see that word has gotten around, and people are more than willing to trust me with telling their stories.”

Lauren not only tells the stories; she is also helping to reshape the role of women in video games and within a typically male-influenced industry. She is helping women who want to get into the industry understand their options by establishing known career paths, too. From technical and conceptual artists to developers and programmers to even models for the game characters, the variety and opportunities are endless… and they’ve only just begun! 

 

July 2022 Issue

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