Despite ample evidence to the contrary, the lingering stereotype is that video games are man’s industry and hobby. In the last decade or so the stereotype’s been losing momentum faster than ever before, so to help this misconception speed off the cliff faster, we’ve compiled a short list of games, whose development was strongly influenced by women.

In some cases, it means being in the trenches as writers, programmers, or designers, in other cases it’s a leadership position as creative directors and producers, but in all cases, women we mention here played an instrumental role in bringing forth great games, some of which are also quite famous!

NOTE: the list takes a simplified look at the topic, focusing on major development roles, but the truth of the matter is that you can find women on all levels and positions of game production, all the way down to the trenches of bug fixing and QA, not to mention talent hired for acting chops, for example.

Games Created by Women
GameReleasedDeveloper
Celeste 2018-01-25 Extremely OK Games
Journey 2020-06-11 thatgamecompany
Tomb Raider 2013-03-05 Crystal Dynamics
Gravity Ghost 2015-01-26 Ivy Games
Bioshock The Collection 2016-09-15 Irrational Games
Uncharted Legacy Of Thieves Collection 2022-10-19 Naughty Dog
Spartan Fist 2018-05-15 Glass Bottom Games
Fran Bow 2015-08-27 Killmonday Games HB
Cities Skylines 2015-03-10 Colossal Order
Child Of Light 2014-04-29 Ubisoft Montreal

Celeste

Release date:2018-01-25
Developer:Extremely OK Games

Celeste is a child of several female developers. First of all, there’s Maddy Thorson, who served as the director, programmer, and, perhaps most importantly: writer.

The game’s music and art were also created (or co-created) by women, which makes this wonderful game a fantastic way to start this list off. But what is it about? Well…

Celeste is a platform game about a young woman going up a mountain, meeting personification of her inner turmoil along the way. The game can be quite challenging, constantly testing your reflexes and timing, but there are ways to tweak gameplay elements to make it more your speed, metaphorically and literally. If you like great games with a serious subtext, give Celeste a shot.

Key features
  • Complex difficulty options
  • Optional B-side and C-side versions of levels can be unlocked, presenting a higher challenge
  • The story deals with themes of anxiety and depression
  • Several chapters composed of many platform challenges

Journey

Release date:2020-06-11
Developer:thatgamecompany

Journey is one of the best arguments for classifying games as art. It achieves narrative and emotional goals inaccessible by any other medium.

It was made under the auspices of producer Robin Hunicke managing the work of many other people, all contributing to a project which lived on to win plenty of game of the year awards and places on many “Best games of all time” lists.

The Journey’s form and gameplay are fairly simple, with some gentle platforming powered by limited flight, with pieces of the world interacted with by means of singing at them. But in its simplicity lies Journey’s great strength, letting you immerse yourself in the experience and wordlessly share it with other players through the game’s limited, but poignant multiplayer.

Key features
  • Few better proofs that games can be art
  • Simple premise and gameplay
  • Wordless story
  • Limited multiplayer: you might be temporarily joined by other players on the same journey

Tomb Raider

Release date:2013-03-05
Developer:Crystal Dynamics

Tomb Raider features probably the most famous female character in video games, Lara Croft. It’s been decades, Lara is still going strong.

In 2013 she received a reboot game, which, in time, grew into a trilogy, which always had women in the writing room: Rhianna Pratchett, Susan O’Connor, and Jill Murray, all majorly contributing to this new, yet still familiar, take on the legendary adventurer.

The reboots shift Lara back to the early years of her adventures, starting out with a disastrous expedition to an island shrouded by storms. The game’s worlds are opened-up a fair bit, but still rich in tight levels designs and exciting cinematic sequences, not unlike ones you could find in the Uncharted games, for example. The mix of traversal, combat, and puzzles is quite satisfying!

Key features
  • Three exciting third-person action games
  • Basically Lara’s extended origin story
  • Brutal combat and great stealth
  • Well-designed open worlds

Gravity Ghost

Release date:2015-01-26
Developer:Ivy Games

Gravity Ghost is a charming indie puzzle game from Ivy Games, designed primarily by Erin Robinson, who’s recently also got a big game credit as one of the quest designers for Horizon: Forbidden West, a sequel to smash PS4 hit Horizon: Zero Dawn.

Gravity Ghost has you in control of a young girl’s… well, ghost exploring an abstracted outer space seeking a similarly spectral fox.

Gravity Ghost’s gameplay involves mostly solving puzzles based on orbiting in specific ways around celestial bodies with the assistance of power-ups providing handy new abilities. It’s quite charming, but as you play, you begin piecing together the story, which, once revealed fully, is rather sad, full of family conflicts and tragedies.

Key features
  • Tons of awesome physics-based puzzles
  • Great soundtrack
  • Tragic story revealed in bits and pieces as you complete the game
  • Gorgeous art style

BioShock: The Collection

Release date:2016-09-15
Developer:Irrational Games

Although BioShock is mostly talked about in the context of its writer and creative director, Ken Levine, more relevant to this list is the project lead: Alyssa Finley.

She’s also worked in various capacities on many Telltale Games productions like Minecraft: Story Mode, The Walking Dead: Michonne, or Batman, among other credits going back to the nineties.

Bioshock itself has been the talk of the gaming world for years now: a fascinating, immersive descent into an underwater city devastated by the same unchecked ambition and ego which created it. Now populated mostly by humans deranged by their hunger for a miraculous, gene-splicing substance, Rapture is in a sad state, and your presence might not be enough to change it.

Key features
  • Immersive (and submersive) story about a ruined underwater city
  • Great first-person perspective gameplay
  • Solid remaster
  • The powers you get are twisted but very fun to use

Uncharted 1–3

Release date:2022-10-19
Developer:Naughty Dog

The Uncharted series gave rise to Lara Croft’s greatest competition to the throne of gaming’s best adventurer, Nathan Drake, a charming treasure-hunter from the Uncharted franchise.

The trilogy’s persistent director was Amy Hennig, whose prior notable work includes Legacy of Kain, another excellent narrative-driven third-person series.

The Uncharted games, until recently exclusive to PlayStation, now also on PC, are some of the best-acted, best-animated, action-adventure games in gaming. They are a blend of traversal, combat, and cinematic flair which would make Indiana Jones blush. If you love ancient mysteries, having more luck than reason, and a charming cast of allies, Uncharted’s the winning bet.

Key features
  • Thrilling adventures of a daredevil treasure hunter
  • Top-tier acting and animation in cinematics and beyond
  • No longer PS-exclusive: you can play some of them on PC
  • Came from the studio which later made The Last of Us

Spartan Fist

Release date:2018-05-15
Developer:Glass Bottom Games

Spartan Fist was developed by Glass Bottom games, a studio headed by Megan Fox (not that one) and self-professed creators of “absurdly cozy games”.

Somehow this game is both violent AND cozy, which shouldn’t be a feasible mixture, and yet here we are, punching people on an arena which feels more like boxing piñatas than a bloodsport.

Spartan Fist is a first-person beat’em up game giving you two friendly-looking purple fists and a bunch of blocky-looking people to punch for fun and profit. Punch them enough, they burst into a shower of cubes. It’s a pretty simple game, all told, but if you’d love to play a game about punching people, but don’t fancy any of the more realistic options, it should be suitable!

Key features
  • Characters returning from the studio’s previous works
  • Weirdly friendly-looking game about punching the living hell out of people
  • Power-ups for your fists
  • Ever-shifting environment, you’re unlikely to ever fight in the same arena twice!

Fran Bow

Release date:2015-08-27
Developer:Killmonday Games HB

Fran Bow is the work of a Swedish indie dev duo, Killmonday Games. The game’s designer was Natalia Martinsson, and the music was composed by Isak Martinsson.

You might also know them from 2019’s Little Misfortune, a similar game, set in the same universe as Fran Bow, by starring a new protagonist and an original story.

More on topic, Fran Bow is an adventure vibe with a strong psychological horror atmosphere, themes of mental health, and a distinct 2D art style. There are many characters to interact with, for better or worse, and plenty of puzzles of all kinds to solve before you make your way out of the mental asylum for children you’ve been confined to.

Key features
  • Gloomy story
  • Great art style
  • There’s a friendly kitty you can play as and with
  • Strong psychological horror vibes

Cities: Skylines

Release date:2015-03-10
Developer:Colossal Order

Taking a break from exciting and touching adventures, Cities: Skylines is a game with a very different pacing and goal.

Its creation has a lot to owe the producer Mariina Hallikainen and designer Karoliina Korppoo, among others. It wasn’t the first city-building game coming from Colossal Order dev studio, but prior Cities in Motion didn’t gain quite as much traction as this one.

What is Cities: Skylines? Well, it’s a very good, quite detailed city-building game with a focus on modern cities, with all the zoning and all the traffic mess you might want to design around (or for, if you’re nasty!). Keeping everything working properly is a lot of work, but watching a city you built operate relatively smoothly according to policies you set? Incredibly satisfying.

Key features
  • Complex simulation of building a modern city
  • You can set policies to make managing it all a bit easier
  • Many DLCs adding extra content
  • Built-in mod support

Child of Light

Release date:2014-04-29
Developer:Ubisoft Montreal

Child of Light is a lovely platform/RPG About a young girl from 19th-century Austria who wakes up on a mythical land of Lemuria.

While the story was penned by Jeffrey Yohalem, the game design work was headed by Mélissa Cazzaro and Aurélie Débant, and music was written and performed by Cœur de pirate, a music project of musician Béatrice Martin.

The usual gameplay is a 2D side-scrolling game with a love aesthetic reminiscent of hand-drawn pop-up books. However, hopping on platforms and moving objects around goes away during turn-based combat reminiscent of Final Fantasy’s Active Time Battle system. There are even stats and companions to aid you on your journey, for an extra serving of RPG elements.

Key features
  • Save the mythical continent of Lemuria from encroaching darkness
  • Dynamic turn-based combat
  • Gorgeous world to side-scrolling explore
  • Gripping story

…and there are more of these in the future!

This list only barely scratches the surface, of course, and if it’s a topic you’re interested in, nothing can beat personal research. And in the meantime, we recommend checking these games out, you might find some of them very much to your liking!