For most of its 40-year history, the videogame industry has been viewed as a boys’ club—and rightly so. By various accounts, the industry is estimated to be between 10% and 15% female, with less than half of that number having direct impact on game design itself. Nonetheless, women have had significant, influential roles in the creative process of a surprising number of games.

XYZ: Alternative Voices in Game Design looks broadly at the first 40 years of videogames and the diversity of play experiences women had a hand in developing. The breadth of games represented in this exhibition is a testament to the ways in which women stretch, bend, and break the traditional conventions of what games and their play experiences can be. Indeed, other than the fact that women had a major role in each of these games, one might be hard-pressed to find any other consistent thread. The exhibition runs the gamut from commercially-successful blockbusters like Centipede, Skylanders, League of Legends, Journey, and LittleBigPlanet; to educational and documentary games such as Whyville and Escape from Woomera; as well as more personal artistic expressions like dys4ia, Train, and The Path. XYZ also goes beyond the screen to the immersive experiences of Uncle Roy All Around You and Why So Serious? and the critical reflection of RE:Activism and Career Moves. Games seeking new audiences are included, too: Chop Suey, The Night Journey, and Analogue: A Hate Story.

The public perception of game developers has been that of a group of twenty-something males creating games for themselves. And while this is not far off, XYZ speaks to the diversity of vision offered by women game developers, while also acknowledging their important influence on both the history and future of game design. Without their work, video games and games of all types would lack the variety and richness of play experiences we enjoy today.