From Italy to the video game industry in the UK

Simona Tassinari

Simona Tassinari, Software Engineer, Rare Ltd

My Thoughts

Her own experiences seem pretty typical and certainly she’s one of the few people at rare who is a women in the software side, so an interesting presentation.


From the Shared technology group, came from Italy, slightly different schools – Technical High School – Accountancy & Programming. Only school where programming was introduced at the high school level.

Went back to Italy after a research thesis in the US (working at the University of Bologna). Worked at a small business software business in Italy, and then moved onto Virtual Reality system for medical purposes in Holland. Didn’t get on with Dutch though! Looked at skills, perfect skills for the video game industry (programming, graphics, AI…). Finally ended up at Rare in 2005.

Only women in the Shared Technology Group, helping the multiple game teams with technology, so not building a game directly. Built R1 middleware for Rare.

Women in Technology

There isn’t much women in games, so looked at women in technology and women in science instead. ETAN report from the European community, Stanford and MIT researches.

The bad:
– Perception of technology as male field
– Women more likely to drop out of college
– Lot less interaction with teachers
– Self confidence continually decreases
– Lack of social networking: isolation
– Feeling that more effort is required from women
– Paid less at all levels in computer science

Doesn’t paint a particularly good picture. It’s not all bad though;

The good:
– More and more girls are interested in technology
– Increasingly more girls play games
– Interest and research on the topic
More visibility
– Women in Games
– Girl Geek Dinner
– …and others

Experiences in Italy

(Not research, just personal experience) Small city, small CS facility; 100 students/year. CS at the start was 140 men, 15 women (10%), at the end of a year is 80 men, 14 women (15%). 4th year 30 men (6 or 7 probably with honours), 10 women (5 with honours). Women worked really hard, but many dropped out.

– italian culture more sexist then UK – everyone in the academic environment made an extra effort not to be (very odd!)
– Good teachers, good mentors
– Bad: career at University not considered by women – 2 women continued to PhD, 6 men continued to PhD.
– It appears as if as in science areas, the amount of % of women professors (going from students -> PhD’s etc.) goes from 50/50ish to 80/20 in favour of men.

My Experience at Rare

About 10% women (including art, HR, reception). Only 2 female software engineers (and 80 men). Art is better (1:10 ratio). In her team of 25, only 1 women; her. Social life is good, friendly girlfriends/wives.

On the bright side, everyone know her name 🙂

Game Industry You Say? interesting!

It’s creative, young, challenging (always pushing the boundaries making the best), stimulating environment (blend of art, design)

Things are getting better. Need to ensure equal opportunities. Need to get people to realise sexism is still around (Especially in management). Advertise the creative side, and inform and support talent. And definitely more visibility for women in technology.


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