Last week, OUYA game console CEO Julie Uhrman closed a whopping $15 million in funding, in a round led by Kleiner Perkins.
The funding was a sign of a dramatic shift underway as women start to revolutionize games. "There are more [games] that appeal to women, and therefore it makes sense that there are more female developers making [them]," says Christopher Swain, an entrepreneur and member of the University of Southern California's gaming faculty.
Here are the five most visionary women in gaming.
In Russia, gamers know Chumenchenko by name. She says her Game Insight Internernational owns 10 percent of the Russian mobile gaming market, and the company, which reported $50 million in revenue in 2011, added a San Francisco bureau last year.
Her biggest game to date? Paradise Island, which puts you in control of your own Caribbean island resort, and was at one point making $1 million per month on Android phones, according to BusyBizBee.
Santiago's Flower and flOw video games were commercial and critical successes that turned traditional gaming on its head. "They created this user experience that was about things other than competition," says Swain, the USC professor.
Santiago sets herself apart with games that allow a player to control the wind or an aquatic microorganism. Flower also ranked in Sony's top 10 Playstation games for two years in a row, while the PS3 follow-up Journey swept several video game awards last year, plus a Grammy nomination for Best Original Soundtrack.
In April 2008, Abbas teamed up with Ziad Feghali and Karim Abi Saleh to found Wixel, one of Lebanon's first gaming companies. Their latest game endeavor, Survival Race: Life or Power Plants, available for iOS and Android, centers on a post-global warming Middle East with two unlikely Arab heroes: Salem, the young Saudi wheelie stunt champion and Abu Ahmad, a middle-aged botanist.
"Two unlikely heroes from the Arab region determined to save the world from this catastrophe is a feature that you rarely see in the entertainment industry in general," Abbas said.
Uhrman's OUYA, which just closed a $15 million round in funding after raising a cool $8.6 million on Kickstarter last summer, is probably the most anticipated video game console to hit the market in years.
You'll soon be able to pick up the Android and open source console in Amazon, Best Buy, Gamestop, and Target--and Uhrman hopes to produce a new version of the $99 product every year. "Our plan is to have a yearly refresh of Ouya where we leverage the best-performing chips and take advantage of falling component prices to create the best experience we can at the $99 price point," she recently said in an interview with The Verge.
As founder of Perfect Plum, a start-up that builds and designs "personal pleasure" software for women, Kelley conceived the much-publicized iPhone app OhMiBod Remote. As co-founder of the Kokoromi experimental game collective, she curates the annual Gamma social gaming event, to showcase the best and brightest indie games, like Paper Moon.
"I really feel that games can be considered one of the most important and profound forms of culture in the 21st century," said Kelley during a TEDx Vienna talk in February.