Women in gaming: We all play the same game – Panel discussion

Date/time: January 28th, 4.30 – 5.30 PM
Co-presented by: Institut Francais Serbia and SGA
Join us on this panel on this Zoom link.

The gaming industry, one of the fastest-growing creative and entertainment industries both globally, and locally in Serbia, has traditionally been dominated by men. However, as the industry is growing, opening up to more diverse professions and profiles, while creating many of them itself, more and more girls are getting involved and taking on a battle against the so-called “bro culture” that often dominates even some of the flagship, most successful companies within the industry. This often comes from the wrong-headed thinking that women somehow can’t have that level of interest in such things as gaming, and from the fact that if you hire most hardcore fans of video gaming, you will inevitably end up with male-dominated teams. 

Many of those companies have had their own respective culture crisis, and are redefining their values to accommodate a more egalitarian, open and inclusive environments within their own studios, by hiring and involving female professionals into higher and more responsible positions, as well as being more open to LGBT and related communities. Of course, these shifts are also coming on the wave of #metoo movement, and similar problems which emerged across the board, starting with major scandals which were related to the film industry.

In Serbia, somewhat surprisingly and unexpectedly, the situation is actually more positive. Based on Serbian Gaming Association’s annual reports for 2018 and 2019, almost one-third of those working in the domestic gaming industry are women, which is one of the highest rates across the European continent! It seems there is a lot to be proud of when it comes to the prospects of the Serbian gaming industry, besides the business and creative aspects themselves, so in this regard, Serbia might be a positive case study for the more developed gaming ecosystem in the West and the far East. 

In this panel, we will bring together four women – one from France, and three from Serbia – who are all in their own right devoted and dedicated to creating and supporting the creation of amazing gaming products, while at the same time advocating for a more inclusive and egalitarian setting from which those amazing new games can arise from. 


Participants’ biographies

Jehanne Rousseau has worked in video games for over 20 years. She started as a 2D artist, then became a project manager, developing games for home consoles, PC, Gameboy, and mobile, before founding the studio Spiders in 2008, where she is now CEO and Lead Writer.

She was four years old when she started playing video games. As a child, she fed on geek culture, read J. R. R. Tolkien and Isaac Asimov, and enjoyed role-playing. Passionate about antiquity, she decided to study it and enrolled in classics before taking a year of preparatory art classes, then a national diploma of higher education in visual communication. It was by chance that she began working in video games, joining RFX Interactive in 1999 as a 2D graphic designer.

After working on the game Tonic Trouble, she joined Gameloft as a game designer and developed Splinter Cell (2002). In the heart of Monte Cristo she created the world of the game Silverfall (2007). The opportunity to fully develop a role-playing video game world (Role Playing Game, or RPG) supported her ambitions. In 2008 she created Spiders with other Monte Cristo developers. She received the Pegase price for the personality of the year in 2020.

Marija Ilić
is the Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Two Desperados, a video games development studio. Marija is also a Board Member at the Serbian Games Association, a non-profit, non-government organization, with the goal of supporting growth of the video games sector in Serbia. With her first love being video games it only seemed natural to pursue her career in creating fun, challenging and addictive casual games.

Both technical knowledge and background in games, movies, literature, art, are giving her a strong ability to interact with various team types while working on a project. She is the go-to person in the team for understanding what actions need to be taken in order to develop an idea into a successful final product.

Marija is an experienced game producer and project leader with 15+ years of experience in management/leadership roles in IT, and 10+ years of experience in games development. In 2020, she was recognized as one of the “100 Gamechangers” by gamesindustry.biz portal, which represents exceptional individuals who are working in diversity, accessibility, charity, mental health, progressive politics, uniting communities and much more within the gaming industry ecosystem. More than one third of her company’s employees are women. 

Milica Todorović has been working in the game dev industry for almost ten years, across different genres and different roles. Starting off as a graphic designer, she moved on to working as an UI artist, digital painter and even creative director at one point.

The beginning of hr career was mostly focused on art, until she discovered the production and leadership aspect of the industry. She is currently employed by Ubisoft Belgrade as an Associate Producer, and is loving every single day on the job.

Last year she became an ambassador for the Women in Games initiative, which just added more wind into her sails She continues to fight for diversity within the industry and creating a more welcoming environment for everyone involved. She thrives to push boundaries and challenge the status quo, while creating amazing experiences for the players. After all – it is a passion!

Kristina Janković has been proudly supporting the mission of the Serbian Games Association since its foundation in 2018, as its manager and the focal point for the local game dev studios and the wider community.

She is actively engaging with all of the SGA members, partners and friends, as well as all other players relevant to the flourishing Serbian gaming industry ecosystem. It is an ideal position for passionate gamers that Kristina already was even before joining SGA, all the while advocating easily accessible education tailored for the industry and the overall development of the videogames industry in Serbia and the wider region.

More information on the Facebook event.