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Lisa Carter on 25 years as a woman in games and why dedicated events matter

Lisa Carter is a director at PR agency Mimram Media and is involved in Amiqus’ G Into Gaming campaign, as well as Testronic’s 50% Initiative. Here, she discusses the recent WIN conference at the London Games Festival and why we need events like this to address gender diversity issues in the games industry.

When I joined the games industry 25 years ago, there were very few women working in the business outside of the ‘traditional’ marketing and PR roles. In the games media (I joined MCV’s predecessor CTW) there were even fewer.

I’ll be honest: it didn’t bother me, or possibly didn’t even register with me, as in my only other previous job (on photography magazines), the landscape had been pretty much the same.

Do I believe I had a tougher time being a woman in the industry back then? Well, there were occasions of blatant mansplaining when I carried out interviews, and I had to swipe away wandering hands at parties more than once. I also got patted on the back – quite literally – by a publisher boss for “helping out” on MCV when I was made editor.

Back then, I would have said no, I didn’t have a tougher time being a woman in the games industry. But recalling some of those moments, clearly these are things that wouldn’t have happened if I peed standing up.

I was standing out for the right reasons though and was still in my twenties when I was made editor of MCV. When we recognised the need to address diversity, we launched the MCV Women in Games Awards (still running today – the 2019 event is taking place this June), as well as other ‘Women In’ awards.

We were challenged: why do women need their own awards? “Because men win enough awards” was our standard answer.

 

“If there had been an event like WIN when I was in my twenties, would it have meant I didn’t have to knock away wandering hands at parties? Probably not. But it would have let my twenty-something self know that I wasn’t alone.” 

 

And it’s a similar challenge I heard about the WIN conference during London Games Festival: why a dedicated event to discuss women in games and tech? My answer: the WIN conference is exactly what is needed to address some of the challenges women in games and tech face today.

Liz Prince, business manager at Amiqus, provided a keynote about G Into Gaming, announcing plans to kick off an industry-wide drive to speak to primary school children and their parents about the career opportunities in games.

Next up was the top tips interview, which saw industry newcomer Georgina Felce (Big Pixel Games) talk to Polystream’s head of business operations Michelle Rendall about the challenges and opportunities she has faced in her games industry career. Michelle admitted to work guilt (“I have two children and a husband – I give it all I can, but I can’t always shake off the guilt of being a working mum”), while Georgina revealed she suffers from imposter syndrome and struggles with networking.

The Fireside Chat took place between BAFTA award winners Brenda Romero, Adele Cutting and a senior developer at Transport for London Dionne Connor-Farrell. Romero said: “How are girls hearing that STEM is for boys? The games industry was created by women, going right back to Ada Lovelace. Women invented programming and boys were just invited to the party.”

If there had been an event like WIN when I was in my twenties, would it have meant I didn’t have to knock away wandering hands at parties? Probably not.

But it would have let my twenty-something self know that I wasn’t alone. That there were other women in the industry who had the same problems, concerns and frustrations, and that together we could impact real change.

And I would have realised sooner that imposter syndrome was actually a thing.

Long live WIN and all other events that celebrate women in games and keep the conversation going. And good work to London Games Festival for hosting WIN!

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