The importance of highlighting career opportunities for women in the gaming industry

Female Gamers

By Aleissia Laidacker, Lead Developer at the Open Meta Association.

When you think of the maturation of the hi-tech industry, it seems hard to believe that although 45 percent of the world’s gamers are female, fewer than 10 percent (around 9.1%) are coders.

Aleissia Laidacker, Head of Product and Technology at the Open Meta Association, an organising body for the growth of an open Metaverse built on web3 infrastructure (i.e. owned and controlled by the community) believes there is still work to be done to educate young creators about the potential of creative and technical career opportunities for women in the gaming industry.

The rise in the number of different applications as the lines blur about what constitutes ‘a game’, such as socially doing things for the good of the environment, and the rise of a non-violent, more personal Metaverse, is now helping to accelerate a change in thinking. With the advent of the Metaverse, experiences are becoming more and more immersive and compellingly attractive to engage in as the physical world merges with the virtual world. One such example is the rise of the “Musicverse”. The way music is now experienced is rapidly evolving. Virtual worlds are augmenting physical events, and the Metaverse offers an opportunity to inject a sense of wonder and physical experience back into interaction with music. It is an area Aleissia is passionate about, having worked at The Mill, a vibrant network of talented Artists, Producers, Directors and Creative Technologists. Now that the genres have become broader (it’s no longer just about “shoot ‘em up”), it is less intimidating for women and more relatable, she believes. “It’s more about Creative-Arts-Meets-Computing today, making it possible for anyone to follow their passion using the tools available to build experiences of their choice in the Metaverse,” says Aleissia.

Early life

Back in the 1980s, long before computers became an inherent part of everyday life, Aleissia discovered coding via her aunt who had access to the early Microsoft Windows developers. She had a rare opportunity through this route to access a personal computer which fired her imagination to create her own choose-your-own adventure games. Later in the 90s, she was inspired after watching the cult movie, Hackers: a film in which Angelina Jolie – the lone woman in the all-star cast – turned out to be the best coder. Which inspired her to also dive into the realm of Computer Science and Technology.

Following her graduation from Concordia University in Computing Science and Digital Arts – a forerunner of the blended science/creative arts Degrees commonly available today – she went to work at Ubisoft, later becoming one of Ubisoft’s first female Lead Developer on the wildly successful game, Assassin’s Creed, managing a team of over 50, designer, engineers and animators. This marked the start of her career as a Technology Leader in the gaming industry.

It’s about the tie between coding and storytelling and art, and computer science

After High School, Aleissia worked full-time in coding for several years, but her creative side led her to go back to university to study for a Computation Arts Degree. This phase of her life reinvigorated her love for coding, through learning about 3D and immersive experiences, which included a project focused on geo-mapping, and bringing artists together through technology.

Fast forward to the present day

“We are now creating the tools and platforms for game makers to build for all types of content. For example, there’s a big focus on fashion; women can learn about coding and create their own immersive fashion experiences. There’s also a huge emphasis on education, so it’s far more about diverse content creation as the tools are available and are easy enough to deploy as building blocks for the creative content experience. Major gaming engines such as Unity and Unreal have shifted focus from just traditional gaming, to providing more tools to creators to build experience for Music, Fashion and Virtual Production. Platforms such as Roblox and Dreams, for example, are amazing no-code solutions you can use to build your own Metaverse experience, or create your own game,” says Aleissia.

Now, with many universities focused on Arts with Technology and Digital Media, this hybrid role is commonplace where students may have a background in coding, but the creative technology side is heavily focused on creative design, so a blending and democratisation of the tools occur. Emerging-Technology-Meets-Creative-Arts represents the Metaverse which is where Aleissia now works as Head of Product and Technology at the Open Meta Association. It marks the start of a new era and opens up a wealth of opportunities for women in particular.

How long will it take for the industry to catch up?

In 2020, women comprised 36 percent of computer systems analysts, 12 percent of information security analysts, 21 percent of computer programmers, 19 percent of software developers, 28 percent of web developers and 29 percent of database administrators and architects according to the Berkeley School of Information. Clearly there is still some way to go.

Alessia LaidackerAbout the author

Aleissia works with companies ranging from Gaming, Crypto, Theatre, Live Events, Brand Agencies and Tech Companies. She helps clients build experiences and products that utilise emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality, Web 3, AI, 5G, IOT and Immersive Design. Bringing Interaction, Play and Collaboration to their products and experiences.

How to Get Into the Gaming Industry

Article provided by Veronica Minano, Talent Acquisition Manager at Kwalee.

Female GamersIt’s long been perceived by many that it's tough to get a job in the games industry.

We even found in a new study that video games rank in the top 10 of what are seen as being the most difficult industries to get a role in, with over a third (36%) of the general working population classing the games industry as ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to break in to.

As a woman looking into what has historically been a male dominated world, this barrier to entry can seem even higher. However thankfully, I’m here to say that with many studios, this isn’t actually the case! But being extremely close to the hiring process at Kwalee, there are some things you can do to boost your chances of getting a job in this exciting industry.

Seek Relevant education

This goes without saying, but this is an industry where further education can make a real difference. Find a course that will help you develop your skills in your area of interest within the industry (game development, game design, game art, marketing, data analytics, etc.).

The entire course doesn’t have to be specifically focused in gaming, but you need to make sure it gives you enough understanding of how the knowledge gained would apply to the world of gaming. Especially where programming based roles are concerned, building experience and knowledge through education can be a great starting point.

Be Passionate

An education is one thing, but in such a competitive industry where almost everyone working in it has an actual passion for gaming, you need to have that passion too. Whether it's a role in marketing or game development you’re looking for, you need to be passionate about the subject matter, and the best employees often are gamers, as this passion shows through in their work. It’s a major ingredient in creating great games!

Get Stuck into Personal Projects and Game Jams

Following on from the two above points, you can bet that the people you’ll be up against in the hiring process will have a portfolio of work whether they’ve just come out of university, or have some work experience.

You can do the same by improving your current skills by experimenting with personal projects and getting involved in as many game jams as possible. These are invaluable, as they will give you great experience on understanding how to create a game as a team with tight deadlines, and again, enable you to show just how passionate you are about gaming.

Network, Network, Network

This is a small industry, one where people tend to move about a lot, and one where good contacts can make a difference. So whether it's on the likes of LinkedIn or at events (preferably both), take the opportunity to go meet as many people as you can, get on their radar and to stay in touch.

Be Open to Learning New Things

The people that go the furthest in this industry are those that are constantly trying to take on new information and aren’t closed off under the belief that they ‘know all there is to know’. Be the same, and don’t be afraid to experiment, to try new tools, adapt and use what you already know to improve. Being able to show how you’ve developed skills off your own back will go a long way to helping too!

Be Open About the Opportunities Available

Similar to being open about learning new things - make sure you don’t set yourself up for failure by only considering AAA studios or specific types of role when looking to get your first job in the industry. Smaller or lesser known studios can bring great opportunities for personal development, and there could be other roles/areas that you’re not considering that you could end up enjoying more than what you’re focusing in on. Be as open as possible when looking to enter the industry, as you’ll truly find out what works for you once you join!

Try to Stand Out From the Crowd

There’s no escaping the fact that there’s a lot of competition to break into the industry as it's a desirable space to work in, which means you need to go the extra mile to stand out. Alongside tactics I’ve already mentioned such as building your portfolio and networking, think about what other value you could add. Spend time developing a more creative CV that will stand out from the standard word docs, start your own YouTube channel covering your game dev learnings, or enter competitions with your work. In the modern world, there’s so much at your disposal, be sure to use it to stand out.

Play Lots of Games!

If you’re a gamer, this one will come naturally, but it makes a big difference. Don’t only play them though, but try to understand them from a working point of view too. For example, how certain features might have been made, what the designers are trying to say with art styles and so on. The games you love to play will no doubt come up in the interview, so having this added lens on them will show you’re not just a player, but someone who understands the art of making games too.

Finally, don’t give up and don’t feel intimidated! Job hunting can be difficult and disheartening at times, but if you really want to break into the gaming industry it will happen, it's just a matter of when. Plus, while there isn’t an even split of men and women in many gaming companies, in my experience everyone is like-minded and there’s nothing to be concerned about. Once you’re in, you’ll never want to leave! Why not start by taking a look at the roles we have on offer at Kwalee?

Veronica Minano About the author

With more than a decade of HR and recruitment experience, first in the engineering industry and more recently in gaming, Veronica Minano has built Kwalee’s Talent Acquisition team from scratch and has overseen the company more than tripling in size in less than four years. She is passionate about how different personalities and skill-sets can be best combined to create a harmonious and creative working environment.