Meet the First Woman To Be in Gaming Hall of Fame, Poornima Seetharaman

Bengaluru-based Poornima Seetharaman, 36, is the first Indian to be inducted in the Women in Games (WIGJ) Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame by WIGJ is a leading global force on gender equality in the gaming business. It is considered the ultimate recognition for women in the industry. Seetharaman was initially reluctant to put herself out there. She nevertheless filed nomination for the award, and was selected from 61 top entries.

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Here are 10 things to know about her.

  1. Poornima studied software engineering in Navi Mumbai. She joined the gaming industry in 2006 and has since worked on BioShock, FarmVille and How to Train Your Dragon franchises, among other games. She is the lead game designer at Zynga, a developer of social games played by millions around the world.
  2. Her interest in games developed when her parents bought her a PC for academic purpose, and her friends introduced her to Age of Empires II (AoE) and Warcraft III.
  3. Seetharaman had created a campaign for Age of Empires. It impressed a friend so much, that he recommended her for a game design role at a Korean game studio. Even with no prior experience, Poornima got the job. She dove in headfirst into the Dungeons & Dragon’s manuals as research for the project and instantly fell in love with game design.
  4. The game developer says she finds inspiration primarily from other games she plays. Movies, mythology and music also give her ideas.
  5. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Poornima revealed that her idol is Leslie Knope, the government worker from the American TV series Parks & Recreation. “Leslie doesn’t give up and continues to fight in the predominantly male arena of politics. She has her lovely support system of people who stand by her and look up to her. In that sense she is a true leader and with true leaders comes change,” she says.
  6. One of her dream projects is to create ‘Madhuram’ (Sweetness), a Carnatic music (classical music form originated in South India) inspired puzzle adventure game as a homage to her late aunt, T.R. Balamani.
  7. Seetharaman is one of the content committee members for the India Gaming Forum (formerly, NASSCOM Gaming Forum) and also an Ambassador of Women in Games (WIGJ). She has curated, judged and spoken at various design festivals, summits and conferences. Besides, she is one of the mentors at Google’s Indie Game Accelerator, India.
  8. Poornima also teaches at  National Institute of Design, Bangalore, as a guest lecturer and conduct workshops for other institutes like Srishti, Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore and Jain University.
  9. Although she hasn’t faced extreme harassment, Poornima feels that leadership roles in game developing usually go to men.
  10. Seetharaman enjoys bringing joy to people with her games. She feels that games are more than just fun. They can be a medium to bond with family, learn new things, trigger thoughts, share meaningful messages or make a socio-cultural impact.

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