International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women and their achievements. To mark the progress that we have made but also realize where things need to improve. It is important to take the time to celebrate but also discuss how to push the envelope further for women as there are still ways that we can improve, especially in the game industry.
To celebrate this day, I wanted to speak with some inspiring women who are in the gaming and technology industries and get their overall perspective. I wanted to start with where we are now in the industry and how things are developing. I spoke with the VP of Production at Behaviour Interactive, Stéphanie Marchand.
To gain another perspective, I spoke with Celine Lee, Clelia Cornuejols and Allison Siperco of Alexa Canada/International. Pulling together such a range of inspiring women really allowed us to have a candid conversation about the industry and share our experiences. And where is a better place to start, than the current state of our industry.
How do you feel about the current state of the industry?
“I am very hopeful at the moment. The industry is coming out of the pandemic very strong and record revenues will encourage publishers and developers to invest and try new things! There are new technologies available to us now; AR, VR, cloud gaming and 5G, and we have yet to see how big of an impact they will have on the industry, especially the mix of cloud gaming and 5G. I truly hope we will see interesting innovations in the coming years.
Harassment scandals and stories of large amounts of overtime have shaken the industry in the last few years, and I am confident it will bring about lasting changes. Today, equity and diversity policies as well as offering work-life balance are becoming a standard for a majority of companies. The pandemic has forced us all to learn to work remotely, to improve our development pipelines and communication flows. Those learnings will help refine our management process and allow us to be more flexible, which is key to achieve a true work-life balance.”– Stéphanie Marchand, VP of Production at Behaviour Interactive
I really enjoyed hearing Lead Product Manager for Alexa Canada’s, Clelia Cornuejols, positive thoughts about the ever-changing role that technology is playing in the industry,
“I feel excited about it – technology can solve so many issues and inequalities! Technology is everywhere now, everyone uses it and I think in the future most jobs will be related to tech, by either using it or developing it, and women will be a big part of it!”
After chatting about the current state of the industry, naturally, we began to discuss where the industry is going. Things such as the different advancements forthcoming in technology. But also, what changes company’s need to make in order to support and protect women currently in or entering this industry.
What changes do you want to see in the future?
“More innovations! The industry is doing great and companies have the means to invest more in R&D and take some risks. This is one of the aspects of video games that I cherish the most, the possibility to innovate in a lot of ways. Gameplay, business models, technology and hardware are just a few examples.
I definitely want to see more women and more diversity in general. Video game development is a very creative process, and we need people from different backgrounds and different visions to challenge each other. To achieve this, we need to change the public perception of our industry, to make it more inclusive, and we also need to encourage today’s teenagers from all origins to pursue studies in one of the many tracks leading to game development. I think the industry has a big role to play in making this happen.“– Stéphanie Marchand, VP of Production at Behaviour Interactive
When I posed this question to Marketing Lead for Alexa Canada, Allison Siperco, she touched on parental leave, which is something we rarely hear about in the industry but is an important factor for many women,
“Parental leave! We’re lucky to have it in Canada, but I know this is a luxury that many do not get elsewhere. Companies should also look into implementing affordable childcare and flexible work schedules to help their employees feel more supported and perform their best. We’re lucky to have that here at Amazon – working with empathetic leadership that understands and accommodates our needs is truly something I’m thankful for. I think the pandemic also showed many companies how flexible work arrangements don’t hinder performance, but can even improve efficiency. “
There have been far too many stories of abuse towards women in the game industry. But change has been happening in the form of courageous people coming forward and sharing their stories. At times, these stories can be extremely frightening and discouraging to any woman who wants to enter the industry. So I wanted to ask these women first hand what they would say to a woman thinking about joining the game industry.
What would you say to a woman wanting to dive into the industry but is hesitant?
“It’s a very good time to dive into the industry for everyone and especially for women. All studios need additional talent at this very moment and there are a lot of different opportunities out there! There have been sad stories of harassment against women in the industry over the last few years, and it has opened eyes and brought a lot of attention to this issue, to gender respect and equity in general.
Today, pretty much all companies have implemented diversity and equity policies and are actively recruiting women. My advice to women is to spend time learning about the company culture and don’t hesitate to ask specific questions about what mechanisms the company has in place to respect work-life balance. Be bold and aim high!“Stéphanie Marchand, VP of Production at Behaviour Interactive
Celine Lee, Country Manager for Alexa Canada had some really encouraging words about women wanting to enter the game industry as well,
“Go for it! The industry is improving every day, and although we have a long way to go, we’ve made some incredible strides. That’s not to say it won’t be challenging, but the more representation we have, the better. That can only come when women feel empowered enough to pursue the industries they love, regardless of how male-dominated they are.”
This International Women’s Day, the overall message is that women need to, as Stéphanie Marchand stated, be bold and aim high! Women need to speak up and demand to be treated equally and fairly. Women have a right to make demands and have their voices heard in the game industry. Change is coming and keeping the conversations going among us, is going to make change happen so that the future generation of women in the industry have it even better.