Grace Shin, policy officer at Ukie, talks about her start in the industry, dealing with Brexit and the joys of finding out what an MP’s favourite game is
How did you break into games?
Growing up, I adored games and couldn’t play them enough – whether it was games such as The Sims or Dragon Age.
After graduating from the University of York with a history degree, I decided that I wanted to work in the policy/public affairs space, and so I looked on relevant job boards.
When the position of Policy and Events Intern at Ukie turned up, it seemed like a perfect fit. After getting the job and making some life changing cups of tea for the team, I was promoted to full time.
What has been your proudest achievement so far?
This is going to sound incredibly dry, but the first consultation response I led on and wrote, which was our response to the Migration Advisory Committee on the Shortage Occupation List to include more games related roles. It was just a really good experience to have so early in my career.
On top of this, the MAC took up recommendations we made, and although of course it wasn’t our response alone that did it, knowing that my analysis contributed was really satisfying. It gave me the confidence to trust my judgement in future work.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Brexit! Working out the complexities of varying scenarios of Brexit and their impacts on the industry has been a headache at times, especially when the situation changed so frequently the past few years.
In fact, the process of analysing and explaining any piece of complex policy or regulation can be a challenge.
The nature of the industry is that it is so diverse in terms of size and business models. You need to be aware that any policy aimed at games may affect a two-person team as much as an international corporation, which means it can be really tough when taking all that into account.
I am a total geek though, so I find it immensely satisfying getting my head around the many policy challenges out there – especially when you’re then able to easily articulate them to members.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
A lot, actually. It is an exciting industry to work in as it is one which is naturally future focused. So shaping policy to help the games industry is motivating in that respect as you’re working on some forward-facing issues which have wider societal significance, from Online Harms to digital connectivity.
The people who work in games makes it great as well. In my experience, everyone I have met has been so friendly and passionate about what they do. It’s an industry full of wonderful personalities and everyone is young at heart.
Finally, I love finding out what an MP’s favourite game is. Strangely, it is nearly always Civilisation or a Paradox game. Hmm…
What’s your biggest ambition in games?
Not a personal ambition but a broader one for the industry – I hope that one day its cultural importance is truly recognised and respected. The UK especially has such an amazing games heritage and there is often a degree of surprise when explaining this to parliamentarians. We have amazing creative industries, and games are a key part. We should acknowledge that.
What advice would you give to an aspiring policy officer?
Find out what you would like to do as a job in any industry and work on gaining experience and skills in that. Secondly, I really recommend going to industry events (well, virtually) and meeting people. You never know what kind of opportunity could come up.