Why do diversity, skills development, education and mental health mean so much to me, particularly in the world of games development and publishing
I have worked in the games industry for a long time, I don't mean that as a boast or a form of status just that I have seen lots of changes and had the pleasure of being able to stand back and look across the sector to see how the landscape lies and is changing.
When I first started I had no perspective and struggled to see the hand in front of my face, I had no understanding of the commercial aspects of making a game, of running a company or even of planning a career. I got a job off the back of making an animation in the first version of 3D Studio. I had a 3-month summer placement whilst studying for an MSc. in Applied Computing Technologies or in real terms programming renders and learning about GUI. This was 1991 so things were pretty basic but I understood quickly the importance of that work placement and the portfolio I had inadvertently created.
I have experienced working in very small developers of just a handful of people, right up to working for Nokia (the mobile phone giant), Infogrames (a French games publisher that bought Ocean Software and seemingly half the industry, and became Atari) to Eidos (a UK games publisher who got bought to Square Enix and has recently sold the Western IP to Embracer).
I have also taken opportunities to step outside of games development and publishing to support areas I really care about.
CEO of Women in Games in 2012,
Games Partnership Consultant or Creative Skillset, now ScreenSkills in 2013/14
Managing Director of NextGen Skills Academy 2014/6 where I continue as a non-executive director
Visiting Professor of Games Industry and Business at Norwich University of Arts since 2013
CEO of Safe in our World in 2021
Trustee for GamesAid since 2018
Advisory board member for the National Video Games Museum since 2020.
Being from an under-represented group
Most of my career has been spent being from an under-represented group. Usually just being a woman made me the outsider, but I was also the southerner in the North of England, the posh girl in an office of mainly working-class lads, or the games person in a world of tech or TV and film.
I am often challenged to show I understand the games industry, usually by young men who feel this space is theirs, especially in the world of games development. They often tell me that they must know more than me, it's the world they grew up in, it is made for them.
Yet I still love it, the individual passion, the disbelief that people can make a career here, that they get paid for something they would happily do for free. Spending time away from games development made me miss it. I couldn't comprehend how people could come to work and not really care. I realised how lucky I had been falling into games.
Being open, continuing to learn and evolve
So this is me, still thirsty to learn, to be challenged, to work with passionate people on exciting projects but to use my position of experience to see the big picture, to support the whole sector to adapt to this constantly changing world, it's always changing so we always need to be open, to learn, to keep moving.