Lumikai Pathbreakers - II Edition
“Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”
This is a quote Michelle Obama used to motivate herself to shatter the glass ceiling every time she felt she did not fit in. At Lumikai, we understand the importance of diversity in creative thought processes and providing an equitable platform for women in the gaming ecosystem. Art, design, and culture can inspire generations. As gaming becomes a powerful mode of storytelling, we believe in the importance of amplifying the women who have built and continue to build this industry. The road less travelled by, the one often laden with barriers is also the one that makes a towering impact. An industry historically heavily skewed towards men is now seeing a massive transformation in India. Inmobi’s recent report mentions how women constitute 43% of the mobile gaming audience in India — a number only bound to grow. Thus, representation matters. We are proud to bring to you the Second Edition of “Lumikai Pathbreakers”, an initiative to showcase some of the bold, brilliant, and fierce women in the Indian games industry. This blog is an inside look at some of the women who dared to walk a path less travelled. Each of these women has made and continues to make invaluable contributions to the world of gaming in India. We could not be more proud to feature them.
Graphic Designer, All Star Games (Deftouch)
Hailing from the culturally and artistically rich state of Rajasthan, colours and design have always been an integral part of Diksha’s life. Currently, she is working as a Graphic Designer at All Star Games, helping design for real-time multiplayer cricket game titles. She believes that the fast-growing and fun-filled gaming industry lies at the ideal intersection of technical and creative talent. She loves working as a designer at All Star Games because it gives her the chance to work and learn — it provides her with the freedom to be creative and explore new things.
“Women are going to make a new history in the world of gaming.”
Chief Operating Officer, Founding Member, Hunter Games (MHG Technologies)
With 20+ years of experience working across a spread of industries like payments, media, telecommunications, digital content, and gaming, Gargi is currently spearheading business growth and operations at Hunter Games. Having held leadership roles at organisations like Paytm, Times Internet, Vodafone amongst others, Gargi specialises in launching and scaling new businesses. Gargi believes gaming is very potent — lean-forward entertainment that is difficult to beat on engagement and pleasure, compared to typical lean-back entertainment formats like video / audio and text, a medium that draws in customers attention with fun and rewards that can be utilized for education, training, amongst other more specialized use cases. She also strongly believes that we’re yet to tap into the female gamer audience in India and having more women part of the development process will bring the unique perspective necessary to unlock it.
“Gaming is a sunrise sector today in terms of interest by customers, product innovation, business models, and opportunity. In fact one of the fastest-growing industries worldwide. Like any other sector, you will soon see women making their mark in this industry as well. Not just as consumers but as developers.”
Game Designer, Ubisoft India Studios
A designer by heart and architect by degree, Hannah started her career working as an architect- a profession she pursues to date. Her introduction to the professional gaming ecosystem was through Reliance Big Entertainment where she worked as an Associate Game Designer. Hannah has worked on numerous IPs for the likes of Dreamworks, Disney, AMC, WWE, etc., mainly in the Combat and Action genres. She created the first 3D combat mobile game for the Real Steel franchise, achieving rank 2 in Top Paid Games and rank 25 in F2P games categories on the App and Play store. She has also developed 9 commercially successful titles, one winning the Best New Game of the Year at IGDC 2018. A member of Ubisoft’s global CSR Team, Hannah works on gaming apps related to accessibility and mental health in children. She also serves as an independent design consultant for startups. As a woman who wears many hats, Hannah has also worked as a games design journalist for Gamey News. She believes that games are a culmination of art, architecture, and storytelling — all rolled into one, the perfect creative outlet for her.
“What excites me most about games is their ability to be applicable to nearly every context and every situation. Games and design have helped me evaluate the world through a new lens and have given me, and countless women, a seat at the table. By designing the artefacts of tomorrow, we define the reality of possible futures, today.”
Ex-Game Designer — Live Ops Feature Design, Bombay Play
Jeneesha started her game design career at Moonfrog Labs where she worked on titles like Teen Patti Gold and Ludo Club. She has found that games have always been an escape for her, making her feel triumphant when she felt powerless. Games have consistently challenged her and given her new experiences like that of a square in Thomas Was Alone, an adventurer in Tomb Raider, a commander in XCOM, and a swarm queen in Starcraft, allowing her to develop confidence. Games also motivated her to become a game designer and craft these experiences for others like herself. She worked as a game designer at Bombay Play, having worked on Card Party and Pokémon Tower Battle, focusing on live ops features, and building new games.
“Gone are the days when you can just be a queen in games, now you can be a queen in the game industry too.”
Ex-Business Development, Google Play
Growing up, Kanan never thought she would help game publishers scale and monetize their businesses. In 2008, when the gaming industry was still very nascent and skewed heavily towards the male population, Kanan’s inherent interest in gaming inspired her to join Google. She was the founding team member at both Google Admob and Google Play India, where she led partnership, growth, strategy, prioritization, and execution. Having set up two multi-million dollar businesses in India from scratch, she also served as an advisor to CXOs of top digital brands like Disney, KING, Supercell, Airbnb, Tesla, Byju’s to name a few. The AdMob business grew several folds in the second year of Kanan’s leadership, becoming one of the largest revenue generators and the fastest-growing Admob market globally. She also, single-handedly led the charge for Google Play for the first two years, being able to evolve the platform into a business, and helping scale the largest Android market globally several folds. Kanan has spoken at over 100 events globally and won several awards for her transformative initiatives, some of which were scaled globally.
“Most new gamers in India are women. Women don’t need to play hardcore games to be gamers. Nor do they need a degree in computer science to build games. It’s time for more women to believe in themselves & be pathbreakers!”
Senior Data Analyst, All Star Games (Deftouch)
Being an avid gamer, Karen was always fascinated by the evolution of games through the years. From playing Duck Hunt and Contra to playing the latest games on multiple platforms, she became curious to understand the mechanics behind it. Rather than just being a gamer, she wanted to participate in creating games that capture people’s hearts. She started her career at Ruby Seven Studios, experiencing the various aspects of game design and development as an Associate Manager for the LiveOps team, before finding her true calling in data analytics. Having worked on 15+ projects, her passion for driving insights to get the best out of games grew. At All Star Games, Karen designs and analyzes KPI data points to improve the overall gaming experience. Working and developing alongside some of the best creative and tech talent in the industry motivates and excites her.
“Women in the gaming industry are slaying, just like BloodRayne!”
Game Designer, CD Projekt Red
One of the 15 candidates selected through rigorous screening rounds for the 2017 batch of Digital Game Design at the National Institute of Design, Kiran has always enjoyed challenging herself. Her journey in the gaming industry started as a computer engineer pursuing an internship in a startup based in Delhi as an Experience Designer where she created AR/VR experiences for various government organisations like Indian Oil, DRDO as well as some corporate clients. A go-getter, Kiran has participated in many competitions like Unity Global Student Challenge 2018 where she made a game whose objective was to create awareness about the plight of manual scavengers in India and was selected in the top 5 candidates. She then went on to work at Zynga as a game designer for Farmville 2: Country Escape, gaining experience in live ops, experience design, game balancing, event pipeline, content creation, system design, and more. She finds a career in game design very gratifying as she is part of a larger purpose providing fun-filled, immersive experiences to people!
“Stand up straight and realise who you are- that you tower over your circumstances!”
Manasi completed her Masters in Game Development holder from Abertay University, Scotland where she studied production, and also spoke on multiple panels as a student manager in gaming. An avid gamer, as Manasi grew up, she found herself noticing the credits section at the end of games more and more. She was amazed by the industry and the vast set of stakeholders with different roles behind each game and she knew that gaming was the industry she wanted to work in. She started her career as an associate producer at Zynga two years ago where she manages and facilitates game developers, product managers, and other stakeholders in understanding requirements and devising the optimal strategy to go from ideation to execution. A problem solver and a team player, Manasi found her career fit in game production.
“We used to be tough to beat at Mortal Kombat. Now we’re tough to beat at work.”
Associate Producer, Zynga
Medini started her career as a Project Coordinator (and the Best Performer for the year 2018–2019) in a service-based company that made and delivered games and apps to various clients globally. After handling the production of games of different genres, she realised her main interest lies in the KPIs and the work behind the design of games and how they are ideated. Her curiosity drove her to Nukebox Studios, where she led the production of the Room Flip game featured by Google Playstore and also contributed to other titles like Sponge Bob-Crusty Cook-Off and Food Truck Chef. Her interest in gaming was driven by the games she played as well as the curiosity with which she deconstructed them.
“She who holds the power to press ‘Play’ will not let you define her ‘Game Over’.”
Product Designer, Loco
Meha is a product designer at Loco, where she spends most of her time understanding user behaviour and creating engaging user experiences. Growing up, Meha never dreamt of being a professional designer-a decision she made upon graduating from management school, venturing into an arduous journey of becoming a self-taught product designer. The transition took tremendous perseverance, discipline, and patience. At Loco, Meha designed the website for “India Cup”, India’s biggest Call of Duty Mobile tournament cup in partnership with Activision Blizzard. She has also been the sole design owner and end-to-end designer for Loco’s streamer dashboard and the Loco Studio app, solving streamer challenges and designing engagement features. As the ever-evolving gaming industry is rapidly scaling, Meha wants to dispense her design skills to solve the pain points in this sector.
“There is nothing women can’t do -gaming is no exception.”
Senior User Experience Designer, Zynga
Neha is an engineer and holds an MBA but her passion for gaming has led to her working as an experience designer for over 5 years. She is responsible for designing the experience of a game, translating ideas into actionable visualisations. She started as an associate at Zynga three years ago and is currently a Senior User Experience Designer and has worked on UX in Farmville2. Neha has been drawn to the non-traditional field of gaming because it allows for creativity in imagination and execution.
“Women bring an extra edge to games!”
Founder and Managing Partner, Samrey Entertainments LLP
After six years of working as an investment banker, Parineeta realised she wanted to build something of her own. Her love for everything fashion and travel related led her to launch her own clothing line called Needle Art. On the look-out for new experiences, she stumbled across Zero Latency while visiting Bangkok — there was no looking back. In 2019, she decided to bring India’s first-ever Free Roam VR experience, achieving early success with positive cash flows within the second month of operation. They have hosted over 18,000 players to date. With 4.5 star ratings on Google, Parineeta hopes to make the VR experience more social and accessible for the Indian audience.
“Women in gaming are inherently given the tag of an ‘outsider’, but instead of being disheartened, just believe that YOU are the ‘GAME’ changer!”
Art Director and Game Designer, Bigfat Phoenix Interactive
A master’s degree holder in Digital Game Design from the National Institute of Design, Raisa was intrigued by the dimension of storytelling and experience that games could provide. Thus, gaming became an organic career path for her. She started in the gaming industry as an intern at Disney Byju’s EdTech segment and received the opportunity to continue as a designer, building the visual design of Byju’s current app. Raisa continues focusing on the fun, humorous, engaging, and aesthetic aspects of gaming with a keen interest to show the aforementioned through visual storytelling.
“My friend said, ‘One day you should settle down and marry a gamer.’ I said, ‘Bro, I am a gamer’”
User Acquisition Manager, All Star Games (Deftouch)
Sabgun manages User Acquisition and Brand Partnerships at All Star Games. She started her career working in an agency handling gaming clients from China, Korea, and Japan. Later, she moved on to Junglee Games handling User Acquisitions for their portfolio games such as Junglee Rummy, Howzat, EatMe.io and others. The gaming industry with its ever-changing dynamics, always excited Sabgun. She missed the thrill of always-on-learning and agility of this sector. Thus, after a short stint in the F&B sector, she returned to gaming with All Star Games. She believes that now more so than ever, with so many players in the market, gaming is THE place to be in.
“Gaming or not, if you want to stay relevant nowadays, you have to have a women’s perspective at every level. It is not a ‘Man’s world’ anymore. Companies know that and that’s why gender inequality seems so close to being a thing of only archival importance.”
Business Development Lead, Games, India/ SEA at Epic Games
With 17+ years of experience working with many gaming companies, Saishree now leads business development efforts of Unreal Engine from Epic Games, India and SEA. Saishree believes that everyone is a gamer, whether it’s playing board games back in the day or playing video games now, and she’s ecstatic to be a part of this vibrant and dynamic landscape. She started her career as a community manager for the first-ever MMOG in India — Ragnarok by Level Up and then went on to work with organisations like Zapak, India’s first gaming portal, and The Walt Disney Company as the Country Head of Club Penguin. She also led several games and interactive projects as Director of Products while at Disney before becoming an independent consultant. She feels fortunate to have a career in this field which is an intersection of interactive storytelling and cutting-edge technology. She is the creator of a Spotify podcast called Special Mission.
“Almost half the gamers in the world are women! That simply means there should also be a whole lot of women in gaming as a career. From game designers to developers to entrepreneurs and leaders- some incredibly talented women are making a mark in the gaming world, both globally and in India.
Global Head of Content, Nodwin Gaming
Sukhmani has been working in the world of content for the past 11 years. She got her foot in the door at Red Bull, curating content in the realm of sports and culture, long before content became a buzzword. As the content lead, she was responsible for all moving and still image content coming out of India. Post her time at RedBull, Sukhmani founded her own content consultancy working with leading brands to develop their content strategy. While most industries follow a playbook, as a creative, Sukhmani believes that gaming provides her with an avenue to think out of the box and explore beyond the rules. Given her background in curating sports content at Red Bull, she was excited to take some of those best practices and introduce them to gaming content at Nodwin. In other words, she looks into what some would say — the fun stuff.
“There is already a lot being said around women in gaming globally, but it’s not enough just yet. We still need to see more women in our industry.”
Vice President — Growth, Zupee
Supreet’s career of 12+ years has been focused on building & growing businesses across Asia. From shaping user behaviour in emerging markets at Facebook to leading teams to drive exponential growth and open up new markets for various CPG brands to now blitzkrieg growth for Zupee, she loves a good challenge! A big believer in the power one holds to transform the lives of those around them — Supreet thrives on ideas that are disruptive and at the edge of the curve of possibility. Outside of all things business, she is a passionate photographer who seeks to create impactful visual stories that break stereotypes of cultures. She has exhibited her work in galleries & exhibits in Greece & Hong Kong. Supreet strongly believes that games celebrate an individual’s journey through a myriad of failures and successes-a fundamental beauty of real life. Being a part of the sunrise gaming sector, building something which can truly nurture true self-expression and happiness, inspires her.
“Hoping we work towards ushering in a future where we don’t say “women and gaming” as separate words. It’s time to recognise that women are building the industry and active users of the industry.”
Junior Product Manager, Hashcube
A rank-holding Automobile Engineering graduate, Suraksha pivoted her career and joined Hashcube, and fell in love with the complex world of gaming. As a Junior Product Manager at Hashcube, she covers everything from game economy features to ASO to marketing and business analytics. Being able to build meaningful products that not only delight the customer but also represent the very best effort of the product team, ensured there was never a dull day at work. Suraksha has worked on increasing retention features, ROI for her games and also received more than a 200% confidence interval on a store experiment. Glad that gaming provided a small piece of happiness for people curled up at their homes during the pandemic, Suraksha is inspired by the dynamic young people around her and looks forward to growing within the industry.
“Entering a Man’s world, the Woman’s way.”
Freelance Game Designer
A BCA in Game and Mobile Software Development holder, Tanishka has worked in game development at various studios: UnderDogs Studio, IDZ Digital, Gamestacy, and Goethe Institute. Playing games of all kinds — board, arcade, PC, etc — gave Tanishka joy and helped rejuvenate her as a child and she knew no other career choice could be a better fit for her. A go-getter, she started as an intern and worked hard not only to design games that you can find on the app stores today but also to understand the user acquisition and business development side of them. She started as the only girl from her batch venturing into game design at the time and is now an ambassador for Women in Games, a UK-based non-profit community that brings together all women stakeholders in gaming globally. Invited as a speaker at the University of West London and the University of West Virginia, USA, Tanishka aims to share her experiences and takeaways with other students daring to enter the field of gaming and interactive media.
“‘Empowered women empower other women. I might just be a beginner in the gaming industry, but I want to break gender barriers. The days where girls are expected to make a career that is considered “serious” in life are far gone. The aim to encourage more women in the gaming industry, whether as a gamer or a developer, is truly part of a revolution.”
Co-founder, MG Games
As “Women Entrepreneur of The Year 2018 in Gaming” by the special edition of Business Connect magazine, Vandana is a developer by heart and a leader by choice. She aspires to make a mark as a successful woman entrepreneur in the mobile gaming industry. With over a decade of experience, Vandana has worked with clients like Microsoft, Hindustan times, etc and built games, some of which got more than 1 million downloads organically
“Gaming is the perfect avenue for women to make their mark — challenging, stimulating, creative, and above all, loads of fun anytime anywhere.”
If you know women in games who inspire you and are doing incredible work, then please encourage them to apply here.