Opinion: ‘The games industry has become a more diverse and inclusive place’

I am really honoured to write this piece for MCV about the Women in Games Awards. I have been involved with the awards previously in all aspects, from nominating female peers I respect to helping with the judging process and even collecting a few awards myself. 

It was amazing to be recognised with the Hall of Fame award at the European Women in Games Conference a couple of years ago. It’s great to see Women in Games championing the efforts that women in our industry are doing every day. 

When I started working in games almost 30 years ago the industry was very much a boys’ club, however I’ve seen that evolve over the years and there are now more women who make games, write about games and make decisions at all levels within our industry. The games industry has become a more diverse and inclusive place and it’s brilliant to see more women in prominent positions. 

I can mention so many influential women within our industry but a few examples are Siobhan from Media Molecule, Jo from UKIE, and Caroline from Indigo Pearl who are all fantastic role models and are helping make a difference in the UK. 

I often get asked how to get into the industry as a woman, and my advice does not change. There’s no tailored response or mysterious magic art that relates to a woman only, my advice for anyone looking to get into the games industry is exactly the same; it’s universal. 

"Our industry is so creative and diverse, it’s a level playing field
where it all comes down to passion and talent."

Debbie Bestwick, Team17

Different jobs within the industry obviously require different skills. If you’re looking to be a programmer then we look to those with a maths degree or equivalent and for design roles we look for a natural creative, playful mindset. 

If you’re not sure what you’d like to do within the industry, or want to get more experience, then QA is a fantastic place to start. It’s a great foot in the door, can widen your understanding of the different roles within the industry and doesn’t require specific qualifications. Here we look for passionate gamers with a keen eye for detail and good grasp of written and verbal communication. QA is where a lot of our staff started their careers with Team17, with many having now gone on to varied roles elsewhere within the company. 

At Team17 we don’t see gender, we have a shared vision which transcends that and instead we are entirely about talent and the individual. Our industry is so creative and diverse, it’s a level playing field where it all comes down to passion and talent. We always select the best person for the job, regardless of gender or ethnicity. The only thing that can hold someone back from being the right candidate would be their own lack of drive or ability.

With rapidly improving technology that is more widely available and the growing importance of STEM within education from a younger age, we’re already starting to see a more equal split coming through the education system with a developed interest in gaming and the understanding that if interested, there are many career paths involved with video games to take.

Since starting my own career, there are many more women in visible roles and hopefully others now see the industry as diverse and inclusive. I look forward to welcoming more talent and seeing what future visionaries create.

Debbie Bestwick MBE is CEO of the award-winning developer and games label, Team17, which hosts the Worms franchise, Yooka-Laylee, Overcooked, The Escapists, Aven Colony and many, many more. She won Businesswoman of the Year at the Women in Games Awards 2016

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