top of page
  • womenintoys

Join WIT at Gen Con 2018: The Evolution of Women in Gaming

Guest post by Debbie Dunn


WIT heads to Gen Con 2018 with TWO events!

WIT proudly presents The Evolution of Women in Gaming, our first-ever panel at Gen Con on Saturday, August 4. But first, we kick things off with a fun networking Happy Hour @Gen Con on Thursday, August 2 at Tomlinson Tap Room In Indianapolis. Join WIT for The Best Four Days in Gaming™!



This article originally appeared in The Toy Book, May/June 2018.

With more women playing and designing games, how are they reshaping the game industry and what does it mean for the future?

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) presents its first-ever panel at Gen Con on Saturday, August 4, 2018, a fascinating exploration into the impact women are having on the industry and what it means for the future.

Panelists include industry leaders and luminaries Tanya Thompson, Director, Global Products Acquisition and Inventor Relations for Gaming at Hasbro; Mary Couzin, Founder and President of the Chicago Toy and Game Group, Alison Yada, VP of Marketing at Ceaco; and Anna Van Slee, Director of New Brands at Sideshow Collectibles. The panel will be moderated by Deirdre Cross, VP of Product Development and Jessica Aceti, VP of Business Development and Marketing at Forrest-Pruzan Creative.

Gaming in all forms is at the epicenter of pop culture today, and it has opened up new worlds to creators, developers, and enthusiasts alike. With the number of female gamers on the rise and involved on both sides of the table, coupled with the shift in culture that has helped kick-start positive growth, what exactly does this mean for the industry? For the first time ever, WIT (Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment) will host a panel at Gen Con on The Evolution of Women in Gaming.

Known as “the best four days in gaming,” Gen Con is said to be the largest board game convention in America, and the longest running in the world. With more than 500 exhibitors and over 60,000 fans, it is a mecca for major publishers and independent designers to showcase their games and connect with their fans.

Panel Moderators Jessica and Deirdre have collectively spent over 20 years in the board game business. From designing, inventing, and playtesting board games, they’ve been intimately involved in the creation of more than 500 games and have worked with dozens of top game publishers. As WIT preps for Gen Con, Jessica and Deirdre shared some of their thoughts and insights.

Q: Why is it important to include women in the product development process?

A: Diversity is crucial to the product development process. We believe in a true collaborative approach. It enhances everything that leaves our studio. Everyone is coded with their own life experiences. Having multiple perspectives makes good ideas great.

Q: Can you each tell us a bit about your personal perspective on gaming?

Deirdre: I’ve been in the game business for 11 years, and in that time I’ve also become the mother of 2 boys. Through that experience, my perspective on gaming has shifted quite a bit. Where I entered the business I was playing a lot of social party and deep strategy games. Now I’m more likely to play a light-strategy game with my 8 year old, or a PJ Masks preschool game with the 4-year-old, so my focus is on the joy that a game brings them and how we can connect as a family. As a VP of Product Development, I am looking more at what “Mom” wants in a game and what that moment means for her and using my own experience as a touch point.

Jessica: Gaming is a huge part of my life. My personal philosophy is to introduce as many people as possible to games. I know it may sound cheesy but I really think it’s the best way to bring people together and to learn more about one another. This world is all about human connection and I’m hard-pressed to think of anything that connects people more than games.

Q: How will female representation in the game industry affect the future of tabletop games?

A: We see a bright future ahead. There are more women at the executive level. This is exciting because of the trickle-down effect this can have throughout all divisions of a company. Additionally, on the consumer side of things, when a woman’s name is credited on the front of the box, it inspires future generations of female game makers to get involved and to support one another.

More About the Moderators Deirdre Cross began at Forrest-Pruzan Creative in 2007 overseeing FPC’s groundbreaking playtesting program. She has been instrumental in the invention and development of more than 350 games during her 11 years in the toy and games business, working with dozens of different game publishers. Deirdre is currently FPC’s Vice President of Product Development.

Jessica Aceti has over 20 years experience in the entertainment and gaming industry. An alumna of Screenlife and Cranium, Jessica joined Forrest-Pruzan Creative in 2015. Prior to FPC, she co-created and published more than 50 app games. Jessica is currently FPC’s Vice President of Licensing and Business Development.

Join WIT for HAPPY HOUR at Gen Con – Thursday, August 2, 2018


Debbie Dunn is a member of the WIT Communications Committee and a 20-year veteran of the licensing & merchandising industry. Currently, she is managing director of The Brand Guild, a boutique agency specializing in business development of emerging trends, licensing, marketing, communications and digital engagement for the consumer products industry.



bottom of page