Women In Games - Ten Year Challenge

Women In Games - Ten Year Challenge

Happy International Woman’s Day! This year to celebrate IWD, and the start of a new decade, we decided to ask some women working in games to take part in our very special Ten-Year Challenge!

Here's what they told us as they reflected on their journey over the past 10 years...

 

Alex FitzGerald - Artist at Scopely

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What were you doing 10 years ago?

10 years ago, at the beginning of 2010, I was working on my Graphic Design degree at the Art Institute of Las Vegas (not an endorsement). In May later that year, I would get my first, part-time, "design" related job at the T-Shirt Diner at my local mall. Five months later, I would get my first full-time studio job as an artist in the slot industry. 

How have you dealt with your strengths and weaknesses over the past 10 years?

I think that's probably still a work in progress. I've always been more introverted and awful at public speaking, and over the years I've worked hard to build my confidence and seek opportunities to practice presenting in front of my teams. I'm still not great at presenting and not speeding through it due to nerves, but I've gotten better!

Alex-FitzGerald-Artist-at-Scopely-Ten-Year-Challenge-Quote-11
I used to think that one of my strengths was in productivity and perfectionism because I'm constantly multitasking. In reality, I've learned that multitasking is really just ADHD and a tendency to juggle way too many things at once. I still struggle with saying 'no' to people asking for extra projects from my free time, but now that I have a better understanding of myself and the way I work, I manage a much healthier balance of tasks prioritization with my day job. My strengths, when describing them to others, have evolved to painting more of a picture of what kind of person I am to work with and confidence in what I'm capable of vs. trying to rattle off impressive keywords.    

What one thing would you change from the past 10 years?

I would want to rewrite my experience with sexual harassment in my first year of professional work. If I could send the confidence and knowledge that I have now back in time, I could have had much more control over my situation and spent less time blaming or questioning myself. No job is worth tolerating people placing value on your body and not your work. Also, I'd like to reclaim my time wasted on impostor syndrome and anxiety so that I can recycle it back into more time drawing/studying for myself. 

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What work-related achievement are you most proud of from the past 10 years?
I feel like my current role is the most accomplished I've felt in my career, more than anyone singular event or project. I've gotten the most validation from my peers, I'm feeling the most confident in my skillset and impact than I ever have, and I've also gotten the most opportunities to push for more growth. I've gotten to work on UI features outside of my normal scope of work that is now being shipped in my game, started a tea club, led presentations on behalf of my art team, and I'm going to be running figure drawing workshops for the studio soon. I've also only been in this role for 6 months, so it's also pretty delightful to finally feel comfortable and empowered enough to toot my own horn. 

The most important thing you’ve learned in the past 10 years?
You can learn new tools and perfect your craft, but the most important thing you can offer to a team is to be someone reliable and easy to work with. At the same time though, have the confidence to be heard and don't let your peers treat you like a doormat. So, so many of us, especially in creative roles, can have overwhelming impostor syndrome. We've earned our opportunities, and it's in our best interest to continue to remind ourselves and each other of that. 

 

Elena Kotelevets - Concept Art Lead at IGG

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What were you doing 10 years ago?

I was a freshman at the faculty of architecture. 

How have you dealt with your strengths and weaknesses over the past 10 years? 

I was looking for something I’d really like to do. I was really happy when I realized I wanna create art for games. Even when I had a tough time, I knew I’m doing the right things. 

What one thing would you change from the past 10 years? 

I became an independent person and I could build my life guided by my personal creed. I wouldn’t change anything.

What work-related achievement are you most proud of from the past 10 years? 

I’m happy with every stage of my journey.  Planet of Heroes is one of the last completed projects I’m proud of. 

The most important thing you’ve learned in the past 10 years? 

Life is limited, so I should do what I want to do right now.

 

 

Becky Frost – Special Effect

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What were you doing 10 years ago?

Ten years ago, I was living in London with no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had recently moved back from Japan where I'd been teaching English and thought maybe I wanted to become a teacher in the UK. It quickly became clear that teaching in the UK wasn't the career for me, and so began a few years of hopping from job to job in central London before moving back to Oxfordshire. It would be a little while before I discovered a love of events and team management!

How have you dealt with your strengths and weaknesses over the past 10 years?

Slowly! Learning to first identify, then build on my strengths and learn from my weaknesses is difficult (and ongoing!) task. This is a skill I'm still developing, and if I can give one piece of advice on this it would be to surround yourself with people in your personal and personal life who will celebrate your strengths as much as they will constructively call out your weaknesses.

What one thing would you change from the past 10 years?

Not much to be honest! Every crappy job I've had since coming back from Japan has taught me at least one important lesson; either about myself or other people. That's a really boring answer though, so... I'd make sure to travel more, rather than just living vicariously through other people's Instagram!

What work-related achievement are you most proud of from the past 10 years?

Being listed in the 100 Women in Games in 2019 was a huge honour. I've never really felt like I'm part of the "charity sector" (I'm currently writing this while sitting at a volunteer management conference and I'm pretty sure I'm the only one here wearing trainers, a twitch hoodie and using a razzy-jazzy citron candy scented pen to write my notes...!) So being recognised as a voice in the industry community was truly a highlight for me.

The most important thing you’ve learned in the past 10 years?

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Self. Care. Is. Paramount. Learning to take time after events to truly recover, physically and mentally, has been a slow learning curve for me! I think because I genuinely love my job and don't tend to see it as work, I developed a harmful habit of dismissing the importance of self-care. Take your time off, take a break from emails and social media and put your mental and physical health first. You're no good to anyone if you can't take care of yourself.

               

Ashley Riza - 3D Artist at Kuato Studios

Ashley-Riza-Tenyear-challenge

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I was living in Canterbury, finishing up my third year at university doing multimedia before doing a Masters in 3D Computer Animation! 

What one thing would you change from the past 10 years?

I wish I had taken the initiative to teach myself new skills and techniques earlier on instead of rehashing the same skills. I would have gotten into the industry a lot quicker. 

What work-related achievement are you most proud of from the past 10 years?
Getting to model Buzz Lightyear and work on Disney generally has been a definite highlight considering I am a Disney fangirl! Working on VR projects was great too. 

 

Jess Hansberry - Senior Backend Developer Gram Games

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Ten years ago, I was just going back to finish my long-delayed undergraduate degree, as a kind of midlife crisis, I suppose. It was strange and lovely to be an applied maths and biology student in my mid-forties. 

How have you dealt with your strengths and weaknesses over the past 10 years?

I'm not sure if there is a "meta" answer, for me, about how I have dealt with my strengths and weaknesses over an entire decade.  It invites generalization, but over such a wide scope every answer feels, somehow, untruthful. I think one thing that happens if you cross fifty and think too much is that you realize you have enough examples in life of things going well and things going middling and things going badly to have a very good sample size.  So, I think there is a choice to sit on that information and make life comfortable or use it to push yourself.  

What one thing would you change from the past 10 years?

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The only way I know how to answer that one thing to change question is to think --ah a magic power!  Who have I foolishly hurt, that I would mend, or what small wrong choice set events down a path that could be set aright?  Separately from that, as with everyone, there is a list of things which sound like do differently but really mean I think see more clearly.   I would have more questions of the genie, about the scope, before committing to a plan.

What work-related achievement are you most proud of from the past 10 years?

There are two projects that stand out, one a project where I built an authoritative backend server and got to invest in the most junior members of my team.  We finished but the company went another direction (and then another...)  Another is an embedded system and the accompanying server architecture. I realize as I write this that pride is perhaps something I take via a team: the first was a six-month project which never shipped, but the way we came together as well as we could under pressure and produced a slick, robust and well-documented system was all that. The second feels...middling...but it handles electrical metering for many users, took years, and involved some great learning and work I think is very solid over a variety of domains...but was done as part of a remote team with very little shared vision.

The most important thing you’ve learned in the past 10 years?

The most important distinction is difficult to meet.  On a purely intellectual level, probably a toss-up between finally taking differential equations, mathematical probability, and partial, to have to tools to think about nature at scale and learning enough organic chem to think algorithmically about chemistry.  But I just kind of love learning stuff, last night I learned how .NET core 3.1 web servers handle dependency injection and for a good half hour that was the most important thing ever.

 

Jaz Woodroffe - Marketing Designer at Fusebox Games

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What were you doing 10 years ago?

10 years ago I was in high school, with the dream of becoming some type of artist. I was really into fine art and portraiture. I had no idea that the game design industry even existed, even though I was obsessed with many video games!

How have you dealt with your strengths and weaknesses over the past 10 years?

I was always really good at communicating my strengths and weaknesses to my family and tutors, which helped me over the years to allow me to get help, grow and become a better person.

One of my biggest weaknesses was not knowing much about the games industry, and the skills I needed to get into it. To act on this; besides reading lots of books and developing my design skills, I spoke to many people within the games industry and I did a short game related course in my free time. I was lucky enough to visit Rare Ltd to speak to some incredibly talented people and to experience what a games studio is like. I also went to my first games conference, Develop, on my own, which was pretty scary.

 What one thing would you change from the past 10 years?

I wish I had known about the games industry earlier, as I only discovered in Uni that my cousin was this incredible game designer and I Instantly knew from seeing what he does, that that was what I wanted to do, as I put together my art skills and video game interests together.

If I had known about my dream job earlier, then I might have done a game design related course rather than a Graphic Design and Illustration course, but on the other hand, I had the best time at Loughborough University, I made amazing friends and met my boyfriend, and I managed to get a job at Fusebox Games, so I can’t really complain.

 What work-related achievement are you most proud of from the past 10 years?

 Well, I’ve only really just started working! I started my first job in the games industry soon after I graduated last year. I’m currently the Marketing Designer at Fusebox Games. 

Getting the position at Fusebox Games is an achievement I’m very proud of. 

So far, I’ve been primarily working on designing our social media posts and animations used to market Love Island The Game, and I’m very excited as I’ve just recently gained the opportunity to contribute towards the game design itself as well! I’m looking forward to where this takes me into my career. 

The most important thing you’ve learned in the past 10 years?

The most important thing I’ve learned is if you want something you have to push yourself and go for it. Put yourself out there, tell people what you want, as the majority of the time they will want to help you. And most importantly, hard work ALWAYS pays off.

 

Aleksandra Gwardys - Rutkowska - UI Artist Coordinator w CD PROJEKT RED

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What were you doing 10 years ago?

10 years ago, I was still in high school, my last year. I passed my finals and a technical exam. Afterward, I went to college - Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology. Thanks to the prestige of my new school, I found a first serious job as a Creative Graphic Designer. That was 2010 year, a year of many changes and challenges.

How have you dealt with your strengths and weaknesses over the past 10 years?

I think the most important thing for me was an idea of what I would like to accomplish in the future. I pushed myself hard to do so, as best as I could. There were ups and downs, but I never lost clear sight of what I want to accomplish. Obviously, my plans and ideas changed over time. 10 years ago I thought that I would be now in a different place than I am now, but I'm happy with my decisions that brought me to this moment in my life and career.

What one thing would you change from the past 10 years?

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I wouldn't change anything. I think all experiences are good. It doesn't matter if there were failures or wins. The critical part was, and still is, to learn from those failures and successes, analyse what and why it happened, to be aware of the changes, not just go with the flow.

What work-related achievement are you most proud of from the past 10 years?

It's a tough question for me because I had a couple of moments in my career that made me proud.

I still remember when I had my first mobile game released 8 years ago. I worked in a creative agency and the game was a project for a client. I was doing the design, illustrations, animations, and UI. It was an awesome feeling. I decided that it would be cool to work permanently on games. 

A couple of years later, I finally started to work in the game development industry. I had an opportunity to release my first PC game - Hard West. My role was mostly designing UI and creating illustrations. 

A year ago, at my current company - CD Projekt RED, we come out of beta with my first game as a service type of product.

Working on different types of games and releasing them for the very first time was for me, my most significant work-related achievement.

The most important thing you’ve learned in the past 10 years?

Over the past 10 years, I’ve learned a lot of new software. My art skills are better, but I think the most important thing was learning patience.

I still have a lot of work to improve my soft skills, but I will try my best.

 

A massive thank you to everyone we spoke to! Some really interesting journeys into games and some valuable lessons for others thinking about a career in games. 

Do you want to play along too? Here are the questions. Post the answers on Twitter with a picture of you now and 10 years ago and the #Skillsearch10YearChallenge. Have fun!

  • What were you doing 10 years ago?
  • How have you dealt with your strengths and weaknesses over the past 10 years?
  • What one thing would you change from the past 10 years?
  • What work-related achievement are you most proud of from the past 10 years?
  • What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in the past 10 years?

And finally, just for a laugh here’s the Skillsearch women, now and ten years ago! We haven't changed a bit! 

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 Looking for a new job in Games and Interactive? Or have a role you’d like us to fill get in touch!

Operations Manager Catrin Jones

Catrin is a jack of all trades at Skillsearch, but she's master of them all too! The unflappable, enthusiastic face that will be your go-to for any questions - that's for contractors, clients and us in the office as well. She's always ready and willing to help and we haven't yet found a problem that she can't solve. She does have an Achilles heel though as she hasn’t yet worked out how to whistle, which would really come in handy when it comes to her new fur baby – Evie the Cockapoo! 

View all Catrin Jones's jobs

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