Written by: Molly Shepherd-Boden
What a crazy week!
If you’d suggested to me 2 years ago that I’d even be working within the video games industry, let alone be selected as a Women in Games Ambassador, I’d have said you were mad! But, that’s where I find myself. I’m delighted to be offered the opportunity and so proud and humbled to join the larger community who are already encouraging more talented women to work in video games.
I also caught up with Marie-Claire Isamaan – CEO of WIGJ – to ask her about the role I’ve been asked to perform and discovered some more about the organisation. I’ve included some highlights below.
I wanted to start by saying that Marie Claire didn’t meet the normal stereotype of games industry “power person”. I found a really interesting, less extroverted character. One I struck up an immediate friendship with. I’m sure she won’t mind me saying this, she admits herself she usually needs two-weeks of mental prep to give a big presentation, but the point is; she CAN do it. A lot of women in games tend to be more introverted, so to have her as the figurehead couldn’t be more of a perfect fit.
WIGJ aims to have 1/3 of women hired. We are currently at roughly 1/4, it’s an ongoing exercise in re-education and diversity. It’s not an overnight fix, but the work is being put in to ensure that a more proportionate amount of people are represented. Marie-Claire focuses on the education side of WIGJ. Her ethos is to improve the industry as a whole. She works with primary and secondary schools, as well as non-profit and voluntary organisations. The talent and education pipeline is the key to our movement. It takes working from the ground up to get people and employers thinking differently, overcoming unconscious bias towards recruitment and employability.
The next step for WIGJ is to obtain sustainable funding. The annual conference is at the forefront of this, with 350+ attendees this year. I hope to do my part to expand on the visibility of the Women in Games brand and WIGJ mission statement through the projects I have planned. The majority of WIGJ’s executive board are volunteers, with the advisory board all being volunteers, donating their time and expertise to champion the rights and visibility of women. For them, and me, WIGJ isn’t just a badge of honour. It’s a responsibility and we all have aims for the initiative.
At the core of being an Ambassador, you have to be passionate about getting women and girls into games. This goes without saying, but I am. I’m uniquely placed, in my role as a recruiter for the industry, to be able to help nurture the next generation of women, providing them with actionable information that will get them in front of employers. How Ambassadors go about spreading the WIGJ message is up to them. Events take a lot of hard work and effort. It’s best to start off small i.e. fun informal meet-ups or coffee mornings. Even small things go a long way. Sharing on socials, running events, CV reviewing…anything! Raise awareness; demand better.
Recruitment agencies, like Aardvark Swift, can set an example of best practices. We certainly strive for that through our Grads in Games projects and our annual Search For A Star and Rising Star competitions. It’s also important to open diversity pools to the older generation (those who are retraining). Our Game Dev Heroes competition also shines a spotlight on the many different people within the industry who collaborate in the creation of a franchise or project. Whereas other video game and award events focus on the studio as a whole, Game Dev Heroes takes a look at the people behind the magic and recognises individual contributions.
If you’re interested in hearing my journey, how I got into video games and how I was selected as an Ambassador, you can listen to the full discussion, where I sat down with James Bowers, via the podcast below.
Aardvark Swift Podcast – Women In Games Feature with Molly Shepherd-Boden: