During its Next event last week, GamesBeat held its 7th Women in Gaming breakfast event, sponsored by Amazon Games, where women in the games industry speak about their experiences and have a chance to network with each other. At this event, the four panelists spoke about the twisting career paths that took them into and through the gaming world, and how women in the industry can better guide their careers along the paths they desire.
One of the common threads in each panelists career is that they didn’t begin their careers in the games industry, but rather entered by virtue of skills they cultivated in other industries. Monika Madrid, currently the VP of games at Magid, said that playing games is a skill that can be cultivated upon joining the industry. “You don’t even have to be good at it — just understand.”
All of the panelists said that they felt that the games industry can be a challenging place, with Perrin Kaplan of Zebra Partners saying that women who want to direct their career paths should look for companies where they feel heard and seen. “If you’re in an environment where you’re not able to be a great contributor, feel good about what you’re contributing and have respect from your peers, get the eff out. Those are not your people. You go elsewhere and look for the people who inspire you and want to hear from you.”
The risks and rewards of working in the industry
Erica Larson, head of industry, tech and consumer electronics in Gaming at Google, said those in the industry should seek new opportunities and not allow themselves to be too complacent. “Never get too comfortable… Be more open to feedback, it is a gift. And you may not think that you’re ready for the next leap. Just go for it! You’ll learn a lot along the way. Have a seat at the table and have a strong point of view. Be yourself and be authentic.”
Magid said that those in the industry can find their own opportunities by seeking out projects within their current jobs. “There’s a moment where your gut’s like, ‘Gosh that would be really fun to work on.’ Then go do that!” She added that she wants all the women in the industry to not downplay their femininity. “The way our brains work is actually a benefit. There’s a reason to have women at the table. It’s the only way to get us represented at the table. Be there and be the female that you want to be.”
Sarah Anderson, head of global partnerships and marketing at Amazon Games, said that one thing she learned from her career is that not all opportunities are good opportunities. “Not every environment is right for you, and you need to be in a place where the culture supports you doing your best work… Your network is one of the most critical things that can carry you through your failures and will serve you well over time.”
All of the panelists said that one of the primary pieces of advice they had for those just starting out in their career was to take risks and trust their talents. Even if they don’t have an existing background in games, they still have a place and talents to offer to the industry. As Kaplan said, “I never was a gamer before that. I had no idea about these people. But they decided to have faith in me and I returned that favor — and I’ve never left and I don’t plan to.”
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