Inspiration abounds at the European Women in Games Conference, London

PRESS RELEASE:  Monday 26th September 2011

Last Thursday September 22 nd at NH Harrington Hall Hotel, London, some of the games industry's most successful female achievers inspired other women seeking to enter the games industry and those wishing to progress their careers - at the annual European Women in Games Conference and Networking event.

Women in Games Jobs founder David Smith was delighted,

“Thank you to all who came today - doubling our expected turn out for this, our first Conference event. Thanks to our keynote speaker Fiona Sperry, Studio Director and VP, of EA Criterion Games, and Jude Ower, CEO of The PlayMob. Both of who shared key career insights and inspirations which I am sure everyone here today appreciates greatly.”

Fiona Sperry's down to earth and frank story of her career journey centred on her fundamental belief that quality brings success. Of this, Fiona said,

“Perform well and you should be rewarded for it. Take responsibility for your journey and do what you love - the one characteristic that winners share is that they care more than anyone else.”

Jude Ower agreed with this and demonstrated her slightly different route into the games industry via educational games. She demonstrated how games can have an extraordinarily positive and real effect on people and the world around us by demonstrating their new core platform GiverBoard. This connects games to charities, allowing game play to be used to donate money to real world charities. Already showing huge success with its first campaign and appreciation and support from the gaming community we are sure to see more of this from The PlayMob.

Professional Enterprise Coach, Andrew Tilling of Preseli Partnerships took the attendees on a more personal journey, helping every attendee to clarify their thinking on where they are at now and to examine where they want to be. He introduced the meanings of success and ways of reframing obstacles whilst always keeping an eye on your goal.

A quick fire Q&A session followed with a panel of games experts including Antonia Cullum, Talent Manager, Natural Selection; Ali Bergstrom-Allen, Senior Producer, Sony Computer Entertainment; Maggie Berry, MD, Women in Technology; Louise Murray, Head of Fable Franchise, Lionhead Studios; and Prof. Dr. Linda Breitlauch, Professor of Games Design at Media Design University of Applied Sciences, Germany.

All took a variety of questions encouraging different approaches of getting into and progressing to the top of the games industry. Topics were raised on how best to present your CV and how to make the most of networking opportunities. It seems clear that male or female is you have passion and talent you can go far.

An exciting finale to the Conference was announcement and presentation by Alison Cressey, former Europe GM at Activision, of the newly launched Hall of Fame Awards which this year went to Frederique Doumic, CEO of OUAT Entertainment and Louise Murray, Lionhead Studios. The Hall of Fame will now grow year on year to celebrate the achievement of women across the industry.

A special thanks goes to Ginger Graham, Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager for Electronic Arts who came over from the US, especially for the Conference. A key sponsor, they support the bringing of their organisation into alignment with the diversity of their customers and game players. Ginger said,

“EA knows the importance of reaching and supporting top talent on a global scale.  We are very proud to sponsor the Women in Games Jobs luncheon which will provide an intimate venue for collaboration, networking and sharing best practices.”

This year’s conference focused on career development and revealed some secrets of success from the very best speakers working in this creative industry. We hope it will inspire those attending - helping to recruit into and retain more women in this, currently male dominated, video games industry.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Speaker, Panellist and Hall of Fame Nominee Profiles

Fiona Sperry, Studio Director and VP, EA Criterion Games

After graduating from University College London with a History degree, Fiona joined the burgeoning world of electronic publishing and multimedia in 1991 at publishing giant McGraw Hill. She joined the games industry in 1997 in the middle of the PlayStation explosion, working for what was then called Criterion Software, owned by Japanese company Canon. She directed and produced the company's launch title for the Sega Dreamcast, the futuristic racing game "Trickstyle" published by Acclaim Entertainment. Fiona took over running the videogames division in 1999, renaming them as Criterion Games and moving the company into mainstream console game development.

As Sony launched the PlayStation2, Fiona was at the head of two development teams. One producing a new game for Sony Computer Entertainment "Airblade" and a new racing game called "Burnout" for Acclaim Entertainment. The "Burnout" franchise grew to be one of the world's leading racing titles and has since spawned six successful sequels. In 2004, the company was fully acquired by Electronic Arts. One year after acquisition, Fiona took the role of General Manager of Electronic Arts Europe, and oversaw the development of games such as "Burnout Revenge", "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire “and new Criterion Games IP, first person shooting game "Black."

In 2007 Fiona returned to the helm of Criterion Games, directing the development of "Burnout Paradise." The game achieved global success and is best known for its powerful open ended game design, pioneering use of social and online play and industry leading use of digital publishing and year long release of downloadable content.

In 2009, Criterion took on EA's "Need For Speed" franchise and her latest game is the BAFTA award winning "Need For Speed Hot Pursuit." This game won widespread critical acclaim and commercial success for its innovative friends-based online technology, known as Autolog.

Andrew Tilling, Preseli Partnerships, Professional Career Coach

Andrew Tilling is a coach with 20 years’ experience in helping people use creative thinking to expand their level of influence and make a real difference. Armed with a comprehensive problem solving tool kit, Andrew has supported innovation with a broad range of clients including UCA and the University of Surrey, campaigning organisations like Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth and community projects like The Barn in Farnham, a creative arts club and social enterprise. He is the founder of the Preseli Partnerships, providing team coaching to organisations looking to use creativity to achieve growth, coupled with measurable impact in the world.

Jude Ower, CEO of The Playmob

Jude Ower has been working within the games industry for 10 years. She has worked across corporate, government and education creating games for training, education and awareness. Jude founded PlayMob ( www.playmob.com) as a group of passionate individuals eager to use game play to fix some real world issues. The team are launching their first game, WeMonster, a social game to tackle the impending need to plant more trees on our planet, and a core platform, GiverBoard ( www.giverboard.com) that connects games to charities allowing game play to be used to donate money to real world causes.

Antonia Cullum, Talent Manager at Natural Selection

Antonia Cullum was a co-founder of Women in Games Jobs back in 2009 and, as a member of the Advisory Board, was the first to suggest the half day conference in May 2011. A former Producer at Lionhead and Kuju, she is now Talent Manager at Natural Selection.

Ali Bergstrom-Allen, Senior Producer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Ali Bergstrom-Allen is the PlayStation Home Service Producer meaning she works with developers to create games, spaces and other content for Sony PlayStation Home. Ali started her career in testing after a computer science degree from the University of Sussex. She progressed with short periods at game developer Kuju Entertainment and Electronic Arts before landing an Associate Producer role at Sony Computer Entertainment in London in 2006. She is a member of the WIGJ Advisory Board.

Maggie Berry, MD of Women in Technology

Maggie runs Women in Technology, a leading online job board and networking forum for women working in the technology profession in the UK. She has been involved since Women in Technology's inception in the autumn of 2004 and manages all aspects of the website and the networking activities that Women in Technology organises.  The network now has nearly 7,000 members and the job board is helping a wide range of investment banks and technology firms to recruit more women into their IT divisions. Her background is in technology recruitment within the financial services where she spent four years as a recruiter with McGregor Boyall Associates. Prior to this she worked for NatWest as a Graduate Banking Manager, providing financial advice to final year university students and graduates. Maggie is a graduate of the University of East Anglia.

Prof. Dr. Linda Breitlauch, Professor of Games Design at Media Design University of Applied Sciences

Linda Breitlauch was appointed Europe’s first female professor of game design at the Media Design University of Applied Sciences, Germany in 2007. There she teaches and researches with special focus on the areas of storytelling, serious games, and dramatic composition. In addition to working as a project manager in the export and publishing sectors she has been the creative producer of several film projects, has written film scripts and game concepts as well as scientific and specialist articles. She initially studied business studies before she graduated in film and television scriptwriting from the Film & Television Academy (HFF) in Babelsberg, Germany.

Louise Murray, Head of Fable Franchise at Lionhead Studios

Louise Murray is the Head of the Fable Franchise at Microsoft Games Studio Lionhead where she has been leading the development on Fable 3. Louise picked up the Action Adventure category BAFTA award for Fable 2 in 2009 on behalf of the development team. She joined Lionhead in 2005 and became Head of Studio. Previously she worked at Criterion.

Alison Cressey, former European MD of Activision

Alison Cressey has an impressive career in the entertainment and video games sector as Marketing Director for Warner Home Video, Group Marketing Director for Warner Brothers, General Manager Europe for Lucas Arts and most recently General Manager Europe for Activision Blizzard. She is seen as a strong leader with excellent relationship building skills with extensive European experience at General Manager and senior marketing levels in entertainment and media industry including video games, digital distribution, DVD, TV, theatrical and licensed products. She is currently consulting in the area of digital, business and commercial strategy and global/ brand marketing.

Ginger Graham, Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager for Electronic Arts

Ginger Graham is the Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager for Electronic Arts based in the USA where her role is to develop and execute inclusion initiatives on a global basis through interesting and intriguing events, tools and champions. She provides a sense of belonging, respect and value for the entire EA workforce as well as the brand resulting in attraction of truly unique and exceptional talent worldwide. As sponsor for the Awards she commented: “EA is proud to sponsor the WIGJ Hall of Fame award for 2011.  We know that without the strength of the women in our industry, we would lack the necessary diversity of thought to be as innovative, creative and inspired as we have become. EA applauds the nominees and those who will be a part of the future of gaming.”

Frederique Doumic, CEO at OUAT Entertainment

Frederique Doumic is CEO of OUAT Entertainment which was she co-founded in 1999 in Angouleme, France. OUAT Entertainment creates, designs and publishes video games for women and kids, in clear ‘casual games’. OUAT has been producing casual games for 11 years (more than 40 games on different platforms including Interactive DVD, DS, PS2, Wii, iPhone, iPad) for many renowned publishers (Ubisoft, Atari, Universal, Hasbro). Since 2008, they have produced their own casual games: Miss Teri Tales series (3 titles); Pure Hidden, Eden’s Quest. She started her career as an auditor at Arthur Andersen, then was in charge of youth programs at France 3, and then became Director of the multimedia department of France Television. She is a graduate of EDHEC Business School.

Siobhan Reddy, Studio Director at Media Molecule

Siobhan Reddy is Executive Producer at Media Molecule, the indie game developers responsible for the hugely successful and innovative LittleBigPlanet. A fascination with technology, pop-culture and entertainment started with her first job at Spike Wireless in native Australia. Aged 18 she relocated to the UK and entered the games industry as production assistant with Perfect Entertainment on DiscWorld Noir. Siobhan joined Criterion games in 1999 where, as Producer of Air Blade, Burnout 3 and Burnout 4 she consistently shipped titles on time and to the highest of quality.

About Women in Games Jobs

Women in Games Jobs (WIGJ) is a “not for profit” company that works to recruit more women into the games industry by promoting role models and giving encouragement and information to those women seeking to work in games. It also campaigns to make the games industry a more attractive field for women, both for new entrants and to retain women already working in the industry.

Founded by David Smith, MD of international recruiter Interactive Selection in August 2009, WIGJ has over 2500 supporters.  WIGJ is advised by high profile industry women including former European Publisher MD’s Jo Goodson and Alison Cressey, and Sony Production Lead Ali Bergstrom – Allen.  Additional Advisory Board members include Geraldine Cross of Blitz Games, Louise Murray of Microsoft, Fiona Sperry of EA Criterion and Giselle Stuart of Ubisoft Reflections.  


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