Getting into the gaming industry
My first experience in the gaming industry was really challenging, as I was the only woman in the dev department. It is really hard to feel motivated when no one listens to your opinion, or when your ideas have been stolen by someone without your consent and they get the credits for it, or when you are being judged by your race or treated differently from the others for being from a different country. For many times I felt that I was not good enough or that I did not have the right skills. The sense of belonging was never there. When I look back I still wonder how I was able to manage all the stress and the lack of teamwork, and that first experience in the industry caused me such a serious emotional discharge that it was really hard for me to go back to my old self.
Thankfully, everything comes to an end. I have since joined Sprung Studios, a place where I have the chance to work with more women, where people are treated with respect and their voices and opinions are important. It really feels I am part of a family and it is a relief to be inside a diverse and open-minded company. The previous experiences gave me the strength and the courage to speak up whenever I see something I do not agree with, which would never happen before.
To be honest, I was just lucky enough to find another opportunity, as I was seriously thinking about not coming back to the gaming industry. I could not be happier with my decision. One of the most cool things about my current job is that Sprung Studios is focused on supporting the internal UI/UX team for most of the big companies in the industry and now I have the opportunity to work on AAA games that I have never thought I would ever work for.
When I saw how good a workplace could be and I could finally breathe and be myself again, I felt like I had to give back to the community and give all my support to the women and girls who are going through similar issues, either being told that games are not for them or being disrespected or even harassed for being a woman who plays video games. That is when I found Women in Games online and thought it was time to be more involved with the cause.
Simply knowing that maybe in the next building there is a woman who might be in the same situation I experienced or that is being treated even worse, it is just not acceptable. If companies want to create a more diverse team they should also be concerned with providing a healthy and respectful environment, with the same growth opportunities for all genders, so that everyone can grow and work at their best. Through my experience it feels that WIGJ is the right place to be if I want to support change in the industry.
Women in Games – The Organization
Women in Games (WIGJ) is a non-profit organization founded in 2009 by David Smith (COO), and Marie-Claire Isaaman (CEO) joined in 2016. The organization is maintained to this day entirely by part-time workers and volunteers and it has been expanding its staff and ambassadors team over the years. There are more than 400 individual Ambassadors from 47 different countries – myself included – that seeks a games industry, culture and community free of gender discrimination. I have seen events, conferences and tournaments organized or hosted with partnership with WIGJ volunteers, with the goal to create an environment where people can discuss and learn more about what needs to change to make the industry a better and more inclusive place. Women may not realize there is a career for them in games, therefore, the organization is working with its partners into reaching out to schools to get girls interested in the video game industry from an early age.
2020’s Global Conference
Women in Games just had their annual Global Conference last September (9th-10th), hosted by the Nerd Pirates, where women had the chance to speak to each other and to discuss the challenges and the future of the industry. This year, the conference went entirely virtual due to the current situation, which allowed the organization to manage more than 69 speakerswith a diverse number of subjects fromwomen working in the industry from all over the world. The speakers shared interesting insights, personal experiences and messages of optimism and courage to more than 750 attendees. In addition to the conference, there were also virtual career booths, a Game Jam, an Overwatch tournament and a hall of fame where women and organizations were recognized and awarded for making a positive impact in the industry.
One of the highlights of the conference was having Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, 20-First’s CEO, opening the conference with an amazing keynote speech about the gender balance issues within the video games industry. She shared some incredible data, like the fact that even though we do not see many women working in games, they make up around 46% of gamers worldwide. That shows how much it is important to have more women joining the industry, hence they make up almost half of the whole consumer market of games. For a better view of the data, I definitely encourage you to check the gender balance report on 20-First’s website.
The keynotes from the conference are available at WIGJ’s YouTube channel.
And remember, be the change you want to see. If you are part of the industry, make sure to speak up whenever you see something wrong happening – and that is not only about women, it’s about any problem you may encounter.
For more details about the WIGJ Global Conference visit https://womeningamesconference.com/
You and your company can support the work of Women In Games by making a donation.
If you’re interested in becoming an ambassador, you can apply here.
By Raffaele Lattanzio Principal UI Artist at Mediatonic
Senior Game Designer at Ubisoft
Associate UI/UX Director at Ubisoft Stockholm
Lead UX Designer on Battlefield at DICE
Visual Design and UI lead at Firewalk studios
Presentation Director at Ubisoft Québec
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UI Designer at Ninja Theory