Square Enix team members talk Women’s History Month pt 1

Three members of the Square Enix team share their experiences of working in the games industry - and the women who inspire them.
By Square Enix

Women’s History Month is an annual reminder to consider the essential contribution that women make to society, culture… and of course, the games industry.

There are many women working at Square Enix, working across the company from development and quality assurance (QA) to marketing and PR and beyond, and each individual plays an essential role in delivering experiences you love: games, books and beyond.

In honor of this month, women at Square Enix have offered to share their experiences of working in what is still a male-dominated industry, their advice for other women who want to join the world of games, and the characters and role models that mean the most to them.

Flanna Borgeson - QA Co-ordinator

How did you get your start in the games industry?

I was working as a barista for a little over two years and made a very scary decision to jump to a job at Square Enix as a contract QA Tester.

I was contract for two years and was eventually hired on full time after working on FINAL FANTASY XV and FINAL FANTASY XIV: Stormblood. After working on a few more titles, including FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers and FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, I was promoted to a QA Coordinator, where I'm now working on FINAL FANTASY XIV Endwalker!

It's been a wild ride, but I'm very thankful for it.

Who are your favorite video game or movie characters?

I would be lying to myself if I didn't rep my boy Urianger and our morally grey girlboss Venat from FINAL FANTASY XIV.

Otherwise, I'm mostly partial to female characters (for pretty obvious reasons), and I can't just pick one: I love Tané from Priory of the Orange Tree for her grit and determination, Morrigan from the Dragon Age series for her cunning and perseverance, and Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars for her strong moral center and her overall general badassery, just to name a few!

What do you find exciting about Women’s History Month?

Women sharing their experiences from across the world is always something to be inspired by. Being able to share my own story and perspective is something I hope will inspire other women to join our industry and make it a more inclusive space.

Many strides have been made for equity in this industry, but we have a long way to go.

How has Women’s History Month affected you?

As a woman, every day is Women's History Month. Learning of the struggles and hardships of all those who came before me is bound to leave an impact. Knowing about the pioneers of our industry, that women were at the center of computer science for decades, helps me remember why and how I'm able to be here - it's really quite humbling.

It's a good reminder that we have always been here, and we will continue to be here.

Who are your female role models?

Without a hint of irony, my mother. She’s one of the strongest women I know; she's worked a high stress job for as long as I've been alive, and still managed to make time for me and my sister as we were growing up.

She raised me to think for myself, be compassionate and kind, and has supported me despite herself at times. She has inspired me to speak out against the things I believe to be wrong and has been a pillar when I'm going through hard times. I would not be the person I am without her.

What advice would you give to women who want to get into the industry?

Speak up, support your fellow women in the workplace, amplify the voices of other underrepresented groups, and hold your ground. Remember that you are a force to be reckoned with, and your voice deserves to be heard.

You’d be surprised what changes can happen if you make some noise!

What can everyone do to support gender equality?

Everything is interconnected: our equality is tied directly into the struggles and equality of the POC and LGBTQ+ community. We can see that right now with all of the anti-trans legislation being introduced across the country.

Listen to the voices speaking up about the issues they're facing, be empathetic towards them, and lift each other up when things get hard. The more we support each other, the stronger we will be.

Sam Bowman, FINAL FANTASY XIV team

How did you get your start in the games industry?

Square Enix is actually my first industry job!

I’m super grateful and love working here so much, it’s been amazing. I’ve been a big fan of Square Enix games for most of my life, so this was really important to me.

Who are your favorite video game or movie characters?

My favorite video game character is Kainé from NieR Gestalt/Replicant.

She’s headstrong and doesn’t let anything get her down despite going through struggles and tough situations. She has a tough outer core but cares deeply for her friends and protects them fiercely without hesitation.

What do you find exciting about Women’s History Month?

Seeing all of the amazing women and everything they do! I’m an artist and follow a lot of other female artists on social media and seeing them do amazing work has been inspiring and uplifting as well. I’m always in awe of the constant talent and creativity.

How has Women’s History Month affected you?

Seeing so many women in the industry being successful and doing super rad work was absolutely a big part of me wanting to join the industry - and giving me the confidence to try to join as well.

Who are your female role models?

Ikumi Nakamura. She’s one of my favorite concept artists and seeing her journey from being mentored by the great Shinji Mikami to owning her own studio has been beautiful and a perfect example of being able to work hard and reach whatever goals you wish for.

Her designs in Evil Within are among my favorites and the first place I look when I need inspiration. She’s incredibly skilled at what she does and works hard to push past boundaries in the industry and I respect her so much for it.

What advice would you give to women who want to get into the industry?

Don’t give up or get too discouraged, it can be tough but keep pushing and you’re bound to make a breakthrough. Use your passion but also don’t let anyone take advantage of that passion.

What can everyone do to support gender equality?

I believe it’s really important to support all women, including trans women.

We’ve come a long way but can always continue to improve. It’s vital to actively listen to those impacted by harm and use what we learn to protect and support them. Intersectional feminism is a major factor when it comes to these discussions, since it includes analyzing how women are affected further based on race, gender identity, and other factors.

Vanessa Grundy, Legal Operations Associate

How did you get your start in the games industry?

I didn’t think about joining the industry until I’d already developed a path that leaned into my skills as a seamstress and apparel designer.

But sometimes it takes time and life experience to understand what you like and don’t like. For me I wanted to shift towards other life-long joys and that was being a part of Japanese media.

Since 2008 I’ve given my time through volunteer work at anime, and game conventions. My heart was so happy that after spending 10 years in fashion, I was preparing to enter a new field.

Who are your favorite video game or movie characters?

For me, Yuna from FINAL FANTASY X and Chun-Li from Street Fighter. Both are compassionate, strong, and determined.

This was especially the case while growing up, when video games were still not aimed towards women - it was great to have strong-willed fighters to look up to.

What do you find exciting about Women’s History Month?

I have attended fantastic online seminars that have come out of Women’s History Month. It has helped me understand how to be heard and have a voice from my own unique perspective.

How has Women’s History Month affected you?

I did a thinking exercise where you imagine scenarios and series of events in your head, including the persons you would meet. When I was asked: “Were the people you imagined like you” I realized that in most cases, the answer was no.

It’s deeply engrained that women typically are not in leadership roles, and for me it is important to use my voice to help uplift others both professionally and in my personal life.

Who have been your female role models and why?

I can’t answer this without saying my Mom.

She’s the definition of selfless and hard-working. I know that she wasn’t granted an easy life growing up, but she never wavered in her determination to work hard for a better one. She’s led a very successful career and personal life where she has climbed literal and figurative mountains.

She has helped countless family members in times of crisis, and journeyed Mount Everest’s base camp. It’s very hard to not try and match her fortitude!

What advice would you give to women who want to get into the industry?

Understand that there are many paths to get into the video game industry (or any field really) and you don’t have to stay locked onto one area of expertise!

Skills can transfer in different ways. For me, my creative background allows me to go ham on PowerPoint presentations, and my methodical mindset allows for great project management. Understanding your skills and how to apply them is always worth your time!

What can everyone do to support gender equality?

Continue initiatives that highlight voices of those fighting for equality and are calls to action. I can say I am very proud that I have several women teammates here at Square Enix America Legal.

To have that supportive environment has been one of the most positive things about my time here.

Many thanks to Flanna, Sam and Vanessa for their thought and insight.

Every woman at Square Enix plays an important role in getting you incredible games to play and making the industry as a whole more inclusive. But there’s still a way to go.

Greater diversity and inclusion benefits both Square Enix and gaming at large, so if you’d like to, check our careers site for current opportunities - we’d love to hear from you!