PAX South 2015 Recap “Turning Up The Heat: Women Working in Games”

A bright future for women working in games was forecast today by an interesting panel of women.  These people got together to discuss the methodologies that Human Resources (HR) Departments of gaming companies use to attract and retain successful candidates, focusing on women.

Saturday evening’s panel was comprised of five successful women in the field of gaming HR. The panel was comprised of Fiona Cherbak the Senior Staffing Specialist at Gameloft, Ashley Doyal the Human Resource and Recruiting manager at BattleCry Studios, Sue Do the Human Resource and recruiting manager at Arkane Studios, Susan Bollinger the Director of Talent and Culture for Certain Affinity, and Tammy Johnson the Human Resource Manager at Bioware Austin.

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The topics of discussion included company culture and climate, company recruiting strategies, the importance of company connections with Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) and resources for women looking to get into a gamer/technology career.

  • Culture and Climate

Each panelist took a moment to talk about the unique culture and climate of their company such as Arkane Studio’s humble design driven collaborators, and Bioware’s desire to foster their “work hard, play hard” environment where teammates challenge each other to do their best in every aspect of development and production.

  • Attracting and Hiring with a Focus on Women

During this section the ladies discussed some of the initiatives their company used to attract and retain top notch employees with a focus on promoting female candidates. These initiatives ranged from offering semi-flexible schedules to all employees, to women-specific job fairs and recruitment days.  Johnson discussed some “New Grad recruitment opportunities offered by BioWare. Following on, Doyal explained about BattleCry Studio’s women’s only Hack-a-Thons, Lady Developer’s Nights, and their relationship with local and national organizations.

  • Exposing Youth to  Careers in Technology

Doyal later emphasized the importance of partnering with STEM organizations such as Black Girls Code because kids, especially girls are influenced at a young age about what activities they should be pursuing that often have the potential to become their career.

  • Resources for Women Looking For a Game Development Career

Several organizations for specifically female job seekers were discussed such as Women in Gaming International.

Crowd Questions

After the main topics were covered the panel took questions from the crowed.  Many of the questions pertained to obtaining jobs in the field.  In response several suggestions were made, especially regarding the necessity of a polished portfolio and resume. It was also advised that when attending job interviews or writing letters of inquiry, the job seeker should be the only one present and involved. Parents and other relatives should not try and be supportive by attending interviews with the candidate or other such unprofessional methods of involvement.  It was also suggested that people who are “Jack-of-all-trade” types should try and focus on one element of game development on applications, as this leads to a more successful job hunt.

Overall, the panel was positive and informative about the continued growth of women remaining and becoming employed in the gaming industry.

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Mary-Ellen Tolliver
Hello Nation! My Name is Mary-Ellen Tolliver; I am 26 years old and live in the great state of Texas. I have always enjoyed games, especially card games and board games. As a kid I did not have video games but I always enjoyed Oregon Trail and Chips Challenge (props to you if you know Chips Challenge!). Now that I am a “grown-up” I am slowly discovering the vast world of digital games and gaming. I have become especially fond of indie games and games with amazing soundtracks. When I am not working I enjoy spending time with my boyfriend, exercising, learning new things, reading, and trying to figure out what amazing paths the future holds. I am looking forward to bringing a novice viewpoint to the APG Nation and learning more about games and gaming.

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