Gaming has been presented as a predominantly male-catered field. Apart from the obvious diversion from seemingly feminine attractions, the pastel pinks that are presumed to make girls go wild, marketing resources are geared toward attracting men and boys. According to Microsoft, gendered advertising was heightened in the 1970s after the gaming sector began to feel the negative impact of financial struggles, leading to marketing resources being focused on a single group of people – boys.
Microsoft’s article touches on the importance of gaming in STEM educational development and learning, referencing Minecraft’s educational edition. This programme assists students with coding and computational abilities. The article’s focus on female gamers in the Middle East and West Africa addresses the stereotypes making it difficult for women in gaming to be taken seriously, noting that a large component of the solution is to ensure female game developers and game content managers. A great win for women in the Middle East is the support of greater equality in gaming by Saudi Prince Fahad Al Saud through his gaming company Na3m games.
Mzito gaming is an example of the move toward creating African content that caters not just to boys but girls as well. According to the Mzito website, their characters are called Mzito, who with the aid of African spirits needed to wake the lions, who defend Africa against corruption and other challenges. The content of this game is relatable and well referenced, making it easy for Africans to follow the intertextuality of the content with regards to African culture, beliefs, practices and locations. Weza Interactive Entertainment is the collective backing Mzito and their mission to empower Africa digitally is exciting.
Ludique Works, a Kenyan based company is making waves for African gaming, with Lilian Nduati as their chief executive. This is a wonderful time for women and gaming in Africa, as Ludique works facilitates many gaming tournaments encouraging people of every gender and background to join. Nduati uses her knowledge to unite African countries around animation and has been pivotal in working for ‘Pan-African data-driven storytelling’.
Although gaming is quite a niche sector, in and of itself, there is always space for improvement as far as female energy and involvement are concerned. It is through developing the more unseen sectors that sustain influence in culture, that women are able to connect important skill development such as in the STEM sector with areas of leisure that somehow contain deeper layers of impact on individual education and growth. Whether the change is initiated by highly qualified individuals such as Lilian Nduati or learners across the African continent, what is crucial is a common thread of building knowledge, skill and encouragement for future generations to be well-equipped.
The joy that is brought through empowering women and Africans through content that is ultimately relatable and tangible to them, cannot be measured through any other means apart from actively engaging with the materials that are being established by African people for the enrichment of African people. As women are a great percentage of the African population, these gaming advancements are not exclusively for the benefit of one gendered group but rather will uplift women, who will impact children and thereafter entire communities.