This post is brought to you as part of the coverage for the Grace Hopper Celebration, in Houston TX.
“Gaming is an art form that brings technologies to life”
In a world where 43% of gamers are women and only 17% of computer science graduates are women, this disparity has created a major talent gap. Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities for women to make contributions and develop the skills and competencies to build towards a career in gaming.
Addressing a packed house at the “Video Game Industry Needs YOU!” session a panel of gaming leaders at Microsoft delivered an entertaining and highly informative discussion on how women can carve their own paths into gaming.
Bonnie Ross, Corporate Vice President, 343 Industries, Microsoft
You don’t need a technical background to be in gaming. We (343 Industries) look for a diverse team that brings creative all disciplines together. You alone or you with a friend can create a mobile game.
If you can make things that you can show that helps. Even copying an existing game or modifying something else, but showing up with a lot of passion makes a difference. There are lots of women that didn’t have any gaming experience but wouldn’t stop knocking. Their passion was the driving factor that helped them through the door.
Helen Chiang, Senior Director of Business and Strategy, Microsoft
Advances in technology have made gaming accessible to more people. I can play games of Candy Crush with my mom or my son can build worlds in Minecraft.
Don’t let the lack of a specific degree hold you back. I like to hire for passion over skills and experience. I think technical skills are things you can always learn and people can teach you over time, but no one can teach you to develop that passion.
Kiki Wolfkill, Executive Producer, 343 Industries, Microsoft
Get your CS degree and figure out what you’re passionate about. We love a combination of CS and traditional skills, in terms of film writing or story telling, or user-interaction design. Every one of those roles is a combination of technology and being a great project manager; or being able to tell a great story or compose amazing music. It’s an interesting combo of new and old. All of these traditional rules apply, in terms of what makes a good story or what is a great composed environment.
Go out there and start making stuff. You can go to hackathons or game jams and team up with a handful of people really quickly. It helps you understand what your strengths are and what areas you may want to lean into. More importantly, it teaches you to work across disciplines because that’s the one thing about game development, it is every discipline collaborating and working together to solve problems and creating together. That’s a really gratifying dynamic that you can learn with 3 or 4 or 6 people at a game jam.
Shannon Loftis, General Manager for Studios 1st Publishing, Microsoft
If you love games, play them and play them as much as you can! Start exploring the tools that are available (like Twine). Once you get used to telling stories, thinking about stories and thinking about the ways people are going to experience them then you ARE a game developer.
There also opportunities due to an acceleration of technology on the other end: Virtual reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed reality. This is inspiring whole new generation of creatives.
Derek Cameron is the Employer Outreach and Partnership Manager for Northeastern University Cooperative Education and Career Development. When he’s not attending conferences, connecting with employers or blogging, he’s still enjoying some vintage Atari and Pong.