In 1984, Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the most successful home gaming system of its time.  While the NES was the most sought after form of home entertainment, for Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie, there was a huge problem with the promotion of the system.  In the advertising of the NES, there were no girls…ever….

“I was 12 at the time,” recalls Dr Raynes-Goldie, “and it made me really mad that there were no girls in the ads, no one I could relate to. I even wrote Nintendo letters expressing how annoyed I was.”

Until that time, “female participation rates in STEM had been on the rise.”  Dr Raynes-Goldie believes that this subtle promotion was the catalyst behind the drop in rates for women in STEM.   

“Earlier this year she won the Australian Computer Society’s Digital Disruptors Professional of the Year Award,” a peer nominated award that recognizes her contribution to tech within Australia.  Currently women make up 10% of the games and tech industry, but Dr Raynes-Goldie believes her award is the start of things to come.  

Still Australia lags behind in the global market of gaming.  In comparing Australia to Canada, the world’s Number 3 game developer, Dr Raynes-Goldie believes an emphasis on Federal funding is key to growing the industry.  With federal support, Australia could be at the forefront of the emerging “virtual, augmented and mixed reality” industries.

For example, the “rise of co-working spaces has alleviated some of the problems associated with isolation and collaboration when it comes to freelance, but there is also the problem of collaboration with people who are not in the room…By using augmented and virtual reality, says Raynes-Goldie, freelance workers will be able to collaborate on jobs as if they are in the same room, rather than working on shared documents.”

Utilizing gaming technology and incorporating it into everyday life is the future of gaming and Australia with the right investments could be a hub for women in STEM and VR.