With Games Careers Week taking place this month, Amiqus’ Liz Prince speaks to game producer and writer Claire Boissiere about attracting talent from outside of the industry …
You joined the games industry from another sector — what attracted you to games?
I was hooked on ‘choose your own adventure’ books as a child and I was into computers and 3D art. I became an architectural technician after school but it didn’t fully satisfy me. A passion for interactive storytelling, combined with a proficiency of AutoCad – which is a very similar software tool to the world building and design tools used to create games – enabled me to switch careers and become a games designer. Kuju Entertainment analysed my skills and invested in me as a person – and the rest is history, as they say.
Does the games industry have too much of a focus on recruiting from within? If so, why do you think that is?
Yes. The answer is many fold but a contributing factor is that pretty much every job advert now requires a candidate to have shipped at least one game. Somehow this has become a lazy short-hand and is used to weed out perceived weaker candidates. In reality, it means employers aren’t properly using a skills-based recruitment process, and this unfairly prejudices candidates from outside the industry.
“Kuju Entertainment analysed my skills and invested in me as a person – and the rest is history, as they say.”
What are the challenges of recruiting from outside of the industry?
I think there is this assumption that someone coming from outside games will be less productive. They aren’t seen as being able to ‘hit the ground running’ and could even become a drain on the existing team. But hiring from within doesn’t mean you won’t hit those issues anyway. The only real way to ensure you hire an awesome candidate is to have a skills-based recruitment process and accept that you have to invest in your people. When you take on that mindset, candidates from outside games become appealing.
What are the benefits of recruiting from outside of the industry?
There are many positives about the games industry but there are many issues as well. It’s still a young industry and with that comes a lack of foresight. The idea of good practices and processes is often seen as a blocker to the creative process. But they’re essential to creating safe working spaces where true innovation happens. It can be hard to find this level of insight within the games industry, so hiring externally and bringing in new ideas and experiences, especially at the senior/ executive level, leads to improvements in your company. Anything that stands still for too long becomes stale; external hires are a great way to invigorate your teams.
What can it do to help with diversity in games?
We all know the games industry has a D&I problem at the senior/ executive level, which is compounded by the D&I retention problem at the mid-level. If we want to get serious about addressing these problems then adopting a more skills-based recruitment process, committing to investing in people and opening up minds to the possibility of candidates from outside games is a must. I’ve been making innovative and award-winning games for over 20 years now and without a skills-based people first approach, that wouldn’t have been possible.