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Actress and Gamer Olivia Munn on the Future of Women in Gaming

Her love of gaming started early.

“I was five when I first played ‘Major Motion’ and I was obsessed with it from the first game,” she says. “I’m one of five kids, and as the second to the youngest, I distinctly remember the moment when I realized that this was a game, I could possibly beat my older three siblings at.”

She continues, “Even playing field, simple rules, the art of hand-eye coordination, being in the moment, yet watching and anticipating what’s just ahead. I loved everything about that game and spent all my extra time trying to master it.”

No stress

The actress, known for movies like “X-Men: Apocalypse” and “The Predator,” spent four years hosting the technology and gaming show “Attack of the Show!” on the G4 network. 

A regular at Comic Con, she’s proud to call herself a gamer and knows she’s not the only woman who’s content at a console. 

According to a Newzoo studyof over 3,330 people, commissioned by Google Play, 65 percent of women ages 10 to 65 in the United States play mobile games, and 49 percent of mobile gamers are women. Women say they play games for entertainment, to relieve stress, and for restful moments.

Munn feels the same.

“It’s pretty simple for me,” she says. “Gaming is a stress reliever and a way to connect with friends.”

Creative sandbox

Calling gaming a “creative sandbox,” Munn likes a lot of things about gaming, including how it connects people, relieves stress, and allows users to explore new worlds. But she acknowledges it’s tough being a woman in the industry, citing cons like toxicity and bullying online, and the sexualization of all characters, especially women. She says the sexualization is changing in North America but that’s it’s “pretty bad in other countries.”

She knows women’s interest in gaming isn’t new.

“Gaming has always had more female fans and developers than people realized,” she says. “One of the biggest changes is access to a platform to play on – having to buy a Nintendo or an Xbox is a conscious decision. Those platforms aren’t marketed towards girls or parents of girls.”

The gamechanger, as Munn sees it, is the smartphone, “because it’s a gaming console everyone owns.”

She says American society might change gaming habits the same way it has transformed gaming in Asia, where there are many hardcore women gamers in the industry. 

The Future

Munn says having women in the gaming industry creates a cycle to bring more women in. She thinks that will lead to more female players and ultimately a larger market. Plus, those women could be role models for girls.

She says it’s essential for young girls and women to have strong, confident, and empowering female role models in their lives, “because the way they view them [translates] to their own self-image.”

To kickstart industry change, Munn suggests tweaking the education system, teaching school kids game design, computer science, and 3D and 2D art, as well as more traditional classes. Most of all, she encourages young women to pursue their passions. “I want to encourage young girls to break the mold and do whatever makes them happy,” says Munn, who recommends young girls interested in gaming should read “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal. “Don’t worry about what people might say or if you find yourself standing alone at times. Trust your gut and know that the world has been set up to make women doubt themselves — so don’t.”

Kristen Castillo, [email protected]

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