‘We’re like unicorns’ jokes Jade Raymond, head of Ubisoft Toronto, as she confirms that yes, unfortunately, the games industry is still a male-dominated business and that women only make up 12% of the workforce. However, this is a vast improvement from just 3% in 1989, and the figure continues to grow.
In recent years there has been an active call within the gaming industry to recruit more women. Gary Carr, Creative Director at Lionhead Studios explains, “I don’t want guys making games for guys. I want guys and girls making games for guys and girls.”
This logic stems from a 2014 study conducted by the Entertainment Software Association, who discovered that 48% of the gaming community was female and that this number was rapidly increasing. From this, they concluded that this upward trend in female gamers needed to be mirrored by those who were creating the games. But is this easier said than done?
We spoke to Jessica Baker and Victoria Hall from Rare Ltd, the games company that brought you Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie among other great titles, to see what it was like for them getting into the gaming industry.
Jessica, a Gameplay Programmer, works on the gameplay engineering team and is currently writing code for a new game called Sea of Thieves.
She explained that her job is to “implement the features that players get to see.” Her most recent project was to write “the code that calculates cannonball trajectories so that skeleton enemies can fire cannons at players’ ships.” This involved making some precise calculations, and then ignoring them, because, as she explained, the feature wouldn’t be much fun if the skeletons hit their target every time, so she “wrote code that makes their aim a bit wobbly.”
Sounds fun, right? So how did she land her dream job as a Gameplay Programmer?
“I graduated university with a Mechanical Engineering degree, but I wanted to get into the games industry because I wanted to use my skills to create entertainment. I spent time building up a portfolio of code projects, attending events, and talking to people already in the industry. Once I had a strong application and could demonstrate my potential to learn on the job, I successfully applied to my dream job at Rare.”
Victoria, a Concept Artist, creates beautiful 3D art using programmes such as Adobe Photoshop and Autodesk Maya. Her path into the industry also started at university, but again it was her passion and dedication that got her where she is today.
“I decided to study Games Design at Sheffield Hallam University. Towards the end, I started to apply for concept artist jobs. Although I got a few interviews and art tests, I didn’t get anywhere. Despite having a stable job, my determination to become a concept artist never wavered. I put all my time and energy outside of work to furthering my portfolio until eventually, I got to work at Rare as a concept artist.”
Hard work, determination, and talent. These responses are so brilliantly genderless. It is encouraging that if you are passionate and willing to put in the hard work to build up a portfolio, you can succeed in making awesome games for awesome gamers, regardless of who you are.
This post was inspired by Power UP, our hands-on and fully interactive gaming event.