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Game Changers at Rare: Why more women should be working in gaming

Rare

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Jo Clifford and Holly Emblem from Rare share their experiences in the gaming industry.

WE CAUGHT UP WITH TWO WOMEN IN TECH FROM RARE TO SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES.


JO CLIFFORD, SENIOR COMMUNITY MANAGER AT RARE

I started work in gaming retail 14 years ago but with a passion for social, community, and project and event management. I then went through various roles including working at multiple gaming events before finally figuring out my career path. This was followed a few years later by landing my dream job at Rare where I get to not only work with the best team and community, but also get to be a pirate every day.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO PROMOTE A POSITIVE RECEPTION FOR WOMEN IN THE GAMING INDUSTRY?

JO CLIFFORD, SENIOR COMMUNITY MANAGER AT RARE

One of the most important things we need to do is continue to listen to women in the industry. Although great steps have been made when it comes to representation, especially over the last 10 years or so, I believe it’s still all too common to see women overlooked in roles or seen as lesser and their opinions dismissed. I feel positive this will change over time and am fortunate enough to work in a company that has some strong women whose opinions are valued, but all too often that is not the case. Women add incredible value to any team with not only their skill set but their insight into the industry and how we should represent an ever-growing part of our audience.

WHY DO SO MANY PEOPLE THINK THE ONLY ROLES IN THE GAMING INDUSTRY ARE DESIGNERS/DEVELOPERS/ETC?

There’s a constant debate about what constitutes a ‘dev’ and preconceptions tend to be that to be a dev you must be knee-deep in coding. Truth is there are multiple valuable roles that go into creating any game – art, production, marketing, video and audio, community, and many more; we all play our part in taking a game from conception to launch and beyond. Educating everyone on how a development team works would not only spark interest for those feeling that they can’t get into games because they don’t code but would also spread awareness of the industry.

Designers and devs can’t make the fancy trailers you see, they are unlikely to be embedded in the community to gather and filter out sentiment or to do a social campaign, and they’re probably not up to speed on how to build a marketing plan and take a game to market, or offer support in terms of technical or moderation should players need it. Every team is multiple moving parts that come together to create the games you play and love. Without one of these everything would fall over.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO ENSURE PEOPLE KNOW THE FULL RANGE OF ROLES ON OFFER IN GAMING?

I think it’s important that nowadays everyone is taught in school that a) You don’t have to decide your career at 16. You have so much time to find your path and you may find a passion 10 years later that appeals to you in terms of a career, and b) There are multiple disciplines within any industry. We should be teaching skill sets across a wide and varied range, not boxing industries into one or two roles and giving the misconception that ‘if you don’t do X then you can’t do Y’. The gaming industry will always need marketeers, creators, testers, coders and more.

IS THERE A SPECIFIC TREND OR GAME TYPE THAT YOU SEE THAT IS OPENING UP VIDEO GAMES TO A WIDER AUDIENCE? 

Honestly, mobile gaming. I know some feel like ‘mobile gaming isn’t real gaming’ but gatekeeping anything is a dangerous mentality to have. Picking up that cute mobile game, something to pass the time, a puzzle game that gets you thinking differently or a strategy game where you can best others, can lead to so many people discovering joy in that escapism and looking for more ways to play and engage with it. This can spark an interest you never knew you had and might even change your plans when it comes to finding a job.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR FEMALE CREATORS IN THE GAMING COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER AND BUILD RELATIONSHIPS?

Because sometimes no one else will. This again, unfortunately, comes back to gatekeeping. ‘They only watch you because you’re a woman’ or other, less favourable terms are said all the time to many female content creators. Truth of the matter is they have got to where they are on skill and passion and drive, they are doing what they love, and they aren’t doing it for anyone else. Female creators lift each other up to champion each other because in an industry that can still be damaging and aggressive to female content creators, they sometimes must be their own champions, for themselves and those around them.

WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D GIVE TO WOMEN WORKING IN THE GAMING SPACE OR THOSE CONSIDERING A CAREER MOVE INTO THE SECTOR?

Do it. Take a chance. You will never get to where you want to be if you don’t take that first, terrifying first step. Imposter syndrome is real, and we all suffer from it, even after years in the industry, but it’s important to remember that your brain lies to you and you are bigger and stronger than those lies.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR WOMEN WORKING IN GAMING?

More representation and more respect. Seeing women be torn down simply for being a woman, is exhausting. Our opinions and achievements should not be diminished simply because of how we identify or present ourselves. A world with more empathy, where we consider those, we interact with, those who work on games we love are actually people, would go a long way.


HOLLY EMBLEM, HEAD OF PLAYER INSIGHTS AT RARE

Holly is Head of Player Insights at Rare, an Xbox Game Studio. Prior to working in gaming, Holly developed her skill set as a data scientist and analyst in a range of industries, including e-commerce and telecommunications. Outside of work, Holly is interested in traveling, music, and keeping her Chihuahua out of trouble.

WHY DO SO MANY PEOPLE THINK THE ONLY ROLES IN THE GAMING INDUSTRY ARE DESIGNERS/DEVELOPERS/ETC?

HOLLY EMBLEM, HEAD OF PLAYER INSIGHTS AT RARE

When we consider the history of game development, up until recently a lot of the focus would have been on designing, building, and delivering a game, then repeating this cycle. However, in the past few years, we have seen a real shift towards live service games, which have really opened the door to new ways of thinking about how we develop games, as well as who is involved in the process. While my role at Rare as a Data Scientist and then subsequently Head of Insights is a well-established career path within other fields, these types of careers are still relatively in their infancy within gaming.

As gaming continues to grow and encompass more complex experiences, I expect we’ll see more and more opportunities open for people from different industries to transition into roles within the gaming industry.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO ENSURE PEOPLE KNOW THE FULL RANGE OF ROLES ON OFFER IN GAMING?

I think outreach and visibility are key to this. As an individual who is in a discipline (data science and analytics) that is prevalent across several industries, ranging from marketing to agriculture, there is a massive opportunity to attend discipline-specific events and really highlight how the gaming industry is a fantastic place to grow your career and skill set. Within gaming, and especially at Rare, we’re able to really hone our skills and level up our abilities as we’re encouraged from a leadership level to review and grow on our progress, so for me, it is really important to highlight that there is a real benefit in terms of learning and career growth to working at a games studio.

WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D GIVE TO WOMEN WORKING IN THE GAMING SPACE OR THOSE CONSIDERING A CAREER MOVE INTO THE SECTOR?

I think there are two learnings that I would love to share with women, or anyone from an underrepresented group who is thinking of joining the gaming industry:

–        Be confident in your abilities: If you’re currently working in a different sector, but want to make the leap, rest assured that you will have amazing transferable skills and interesting experiences that can help level up the games we make. Therefore, I’d really encourage anyone thinking of moving into the sector to be proud of what they’ve achieved to-date and be confident in highlighting how their skill set can help level up a game studio or company.

–        Build your network and support each other: One of the best parts of joining Rare, for me, has been my amazing colleagues and my ability to learn and grow from them, in so many areas. I’ve found that taking the time to get to know my colleagues and help them on their projects and goals has grown my abilities massively, so if you do decide to join the gaming industry, definitely reach out to folks you’re working with and see how you can collaborate on new projects.

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