BIMM University / Video Games

Celebrating women in gaming: Four Berlin-based developers

10th June 2024

Berlin is home to some of the most creative and innovative minds in game development, and we’re shining a spotlight on four fantastic female game developers who are making waves in this vibrant gaming scene: Franziska Zeiner, Mareike Ottrand, Melanie Fussenegger and Rebecca Harwick. These women are not only breaking stereotypes but are also creating games that are visually stunning and wonderfully thought-provoking. This article will examine how they are shaping the future of game development in Berlin.  

As game development becomes more diverse, we are appreciating the fresh perspectives that women bring to the table. In Berlin, a city known for its eclectic and dynamic creative scene, female game developers are thriving. Let’s meet four of these trailblazers.   

Franziska Zeiner

Franziska Zeiner is a co-founder of Fein Games, a Berlin-based game development studio that she founded alongside Lea Schönfelder. Franziska previously worked for Huuuge and Wooga, and she currently serves as a consultant for Naavik, a gaming research firm.  

At the 2023 International Woman Game Makers Week conference, Franziska stated her intention to “establish games as a serious medium, both for consumption and discussion in society.” Finding Hannah (2023) illustrates this mission perfectly, as Franziska and Lea explain in a Vogue interview 

Finding Hannah is a hidden-object game about a woman living in Berlin, who is trying to figure out what to do with her life. As you progress through the game, you learn about Hannah’s mother and grandmother, and you discover how each of their stories can shape the trajectory of Hannah’s life. The rich storytelling and beautiful visuals have garnered much critical praise, and you can check out Franziska’s interview with Games Capital to gain further insights into her processes and perspectives. 

Mareike Ottrand

Mareike Ottrand is another shining star in Berlin’s gaming scene. She entered the industry as an illustrator and animator, and in 2011 she co-founded Studio Fizbin, where she became Art Director.  

Mareike is known for her captivating storytelling and whimsical art style, with gorgeous hand-drawn animation that truly brings her characters to life. Studio Fizbin’s award-winning The Inner World series exemplifies her talents. The company has also worked on apps for children and adults alike, all characterised by their interactive nature.  

Melanie Fussenegger

Since 2022, Melanie Fussenegger has worked as Project Lead at the Digital Games Culture Foundation, where she manages the ‘Start-up: Games Entrepreneurs’ programme. This initiative supports founders of indie studios in Berlin and Brandenburg by providing workshops, mentoring and networking.  

Melanie demonstrates her passion for digital games through her blog, Kunstspiel, where she investigates the intersection between art and technology. She is a member of Saftladen Indie Games Collective, which is a group of regional indie studios that share a coworking space in Berlin.  

Photo: Games Ground

Rebecca Harwick

On her website, Rebecca Harwick describes herself as “an author, narrative designer, and historian telling stories that fuse the imaginative with the personal, ordinary, and profound.” She studied English at university and quickly became interested in story-driven video games. 

Rebecca has worked with both major studios and indie developers, contributing to games such as The Dark Pictures Anthology and Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. She also worked on Finding Hannah with Franziska Zeiner, demonstrating her talent for creating emotionally resonant stories that engage players on a deep level. She explains her unique perspective on storytelling in this blog piece 

Initiatives for women in gaming

Berlin is not just a great place to create games; it’s also a fantastic city for networking and professional development. There are numerous workshops, events and community groups that support women in gaming. Initiatives like Womenize! provide a platform for female game designers to connect, share ideas and collaborate on projects. Make sure you check out their Inspiring Stories blog series, where they interview women and non-binary people who have done wonderful things in the tech industry. 

Organisations such as FemDevs Berlin and Women in Games Germany create supportive environments where women can thrive. These groups organise regular meetups and mentorship programmes that help female game designers develop their skills and grow their careers.  

The future of video game development is bright, and women are leading the way with innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. For instance, interactive storytelling and augmented reality are areas where female game developers are making significant contributions. We can also expect to see more games that explore diverse narratives and themes, and which therefore resonate with a much wider audience.  

Photo: Games Ground

Berlin’s video games industry is vibrant and full of talented women who are making their mark. Franziska Zeiner, Mareike Ottrand, Melanie Fussenegger and Rebecca Harwick are just some of the many female creators who are pushing the boundaries of what games can be. Their work is sure to inspire any budding games developer, whether you’re interested in design, art, programming, project management, or another aspect of game development.  

If you’re an aspiring game developer looking for a place to grow your network, hone your craft, or experiment with different styles and techniques, Berlin is the place to be. At BIMM University Berlin, we’ll connect you to all the right people and provide you with the tools you need to succeed in this thriving industry.  

 


 

Study a video games course at BIMM University Berlin and join these remarkable women in shaping the future of games development.

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Author

BIMM University

BIMM University provides an extensive range of courses in modern music, performing arts, filmmaking, and creative technology to over 8,000 students across 14 schools in the UK, Ireland, and Germany. We have a long-standing commitment to providing the highest quality in creative industries education, allowing students to maximise their career potential in an inclusive community built on a culture of shared passion, creativity, and collaboration. Berlin | Birmingham | Brighton | Bristol | Dublin | Essex | London | Manchester