The games industry is no different, and here at PocketGamer.biz we wanted to do our part and help bring attention to the many incredible people of colour that help make up this sector. That is why we are committing to a new long-term regular feature to spotlight these people and their careers.
So, welcome to our new ‘POC in Mobile‘ series, where discussion about finding a place in the games industry, the various challenges faced as a minority, and what truly needs to be done to make games more diverse will be the focal points of conversations.
This week, we spoke with KingsIsle Entertainment game designer Victoria Brown who discusses the importance of networking, alongside the challenges that come with being a not only a person of colour in the games industry, but being a woman too.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you start off by telling us about your role in mobile games and what it entails?
Victoria Brown: I am a designer that focuses on mobile games, in which I help in fleshing out game ideas, then build up data that the game will use, from creating an economy to building out a combat system, along with the foundations of level building. While building out these systems I am looking for what would be fun for our players.
Leaders and those in hiring able positions should take chances on those who seem just as capable even if they do not have the same experience
Why did you want to work in the mobile games industry?
While I was in high school, I met a designer who worked at Valve. They were giving a talk that inspired me to pursue making games, even though there might be some difficulties. While going through college I found my passion for designing games, I was also able to learn how to network and work my way up into my current position.
How would you recommend people get started in games? Any tools or literature you would advise?
Learn how to network and communicate well with others. The more connections and relations that you can build will help open up more opportunities in any job that you would want to pursue. That and focus on bettering your skillset towards the position that you want.
What did you study (if anything) for your role? Are there any courses out there that you would advise for aspiring professionals?
I went to college to study computer science and design, but after being in the industry for a while and meeting new people who got starts in several different ways, a college education does not seem as necessary as some would believe.
Unless your goal is to be an engineer, you can learn most of what you need through research, building out your skillset, portfolios, and putting yourself out there to network.
What do you think should be done to improve diversity, not only across the games industry, but across all industries?
One of the best ways for us to improve on diversifying is that we need to try and break down the walls of higher expectations and experience needed. A lot of people from minority groups are not given the chance to perform or gain experience.
Leaders and those in hiring able positions should take chances on those who seem just as capable even if they do not have the same experience. It will allow for more diversity and better representations of the many minorities.
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered since joining the industry?
Since joining the industry there have been those who have questioned my abilities and knowledge of games. If I did not know anything about one type of game I was looked as not being worthy of my position or even as a gamer. There have also been instances where what should have been good networking moments turned into supposed dates or events to be hit on in an unwanted way.
As a woman in the industry, I strive to not only better my skill sets but to prove that I am capable to be a figure worth taking seriously, through work and ethics
As a woman in the industry, I strive to not only better my skill sets but to prove that I am capable to be a figure worth taking seriously, through work and ethics. Hopefully, by sharing my experiences and the work that I am doing, I can be a role model for other women trying to come into the industry.
What do you think can be done to help encourage more people of colour to get into games?
Going out to events, doing outreaches and finding people of colour (minorities) to speak and meet with them where they are at, get the word out that we as an industry are working towards being more inclusive. Even having those minorities in the industries out and talking to others like themselves would help improve relationships, along with the many we are trying to attract and include into our industry.
Is there anything that recruiters should be doing differently to address the lack of diversity across not only games development but all industries?
Similar to what was previously mentioned, recruiters need to focus more on whether a person has not the experience, but the listed skill sets and a portfolio fitting of the company that they are representing. Recruiters can also discuss and educate on why diversity in their companies more having would be important and beneficial.
Since the recent surge in the #BlackLivesMatters campaign, what changes (if any) have you seen from across the industry to address the issue?
From what I have seen so far even from my own company there has been a rise in hiring more minorities and diversifying withing companies. There have also been some diversity additions in games from adding more hairstyles or skin tone choices, as an example. Social media has also helped in spreading awareness and the want to be more inclusive with their players.
What advice do you have for other people of colour that are looking at getting into games?
Stay true to yourself and the work that you have accomplished, do not get discouraged by the many no’s that will come. Each one is another opportunity and with each one, eventually the right fit will be presented. After that point, you can only grow and better yourself.