Women in Wireless UK – Women in Mobile Gaming Event
Another superb collaborative effort from the WiW UK Marketing Team resulted in the Women in Wireless UK Women in Gaming Event in London last week. Here are my notes from what turned out to be a fascinating panel discussion.
Hosted by event sponsors Gamesys at their offices on Piccadilly, London W1.
Photo courtesy of Sally Burt-Jones.
- Jude Ower – Founder and CEO of PlayMob
- Anna Marsh – Design Director Tickity Boom Games
- Victoria Pavlova – Co-Founder of Lextre (the makers of The Perfect Shift game)
- Hima Patel – Consumer and Market Insights Manager, Gamesys
- Panel Moderator – Rhian Pamphilon, Women Wireless UK Founder Member
Rhian opened the discussion by giving us some background on Women in the Gaming Industry: *
According to Internet Advertising Bureau Research – September 2014
- Women are now the majority among games users (52%) – but as characters and creators they are noticeably absent.
- Despite the fact that women make up the majority of the gaming audience, the number of women working in the games industry remains shockingly low – only 12% of game designers in Britain and 3% of all programmers are women.
Rhian then thanked our sponsor for the evening, Gamesys.
The panel were then invited to give some background about themselves
- Started in console game design at Sony and then “fell in love with the touch screen interface” and mobile gaming. Worked for large companies for years – initially in all-male teams – and started out on her own when she had her daughter in order to get greater flexibility around working hours and childcare. Since then she has launched 2 games businesses – Lady Shotgun Games and now Tickety Boom.
V- Was a classic FMCG marketer working on luxury brands at Unilever and became very interested in the digital & mobile marketing channels. . Around this time she was introduced to Zeptalab which was a 15 person start up at the time and she joined as their first Marketing Director. The company was 80% men at that time too which was a very different culture from the luxury FMCG products world! While at Zeptalab she launched the hugely successful games Cut the Rope 2 and Cut the Rope: Time Travel featuring the character Om Nom. She has since co-founded several businesses and teaches in start-ups and incubators.
J – She grew up with games and has always been passionate about playing them and making them. Also was lucky enough to grow up in Dundee which is a hub for the games industry in Scotland. After an early career using games techniques for learning and training in large companies, she set up Playmob to link game play to social good and create shared value proposition for business and charity. To date they have been 2 successful seed rounds and at the current time Playmob has raised $550,000 for charity.
H – Came from a classic Marketing Research and Analysis background and was hired by San-Francisco based Games company Kabam for her extensive experience pan- European work. Having fallen in love with the games industry and the speed and excitement of working in it she was then attracted to Gamesys because of their target demographic of older female players.
Q1 What is your career strategy advice for women working in gaming?
A – “Know your onions” – know your stuff in games if you want to be taken seriously
V – No particular career recipe – but essential that you learn the developer’s language and that you are able to pick things up very quickly. Read up on things and go to conferences.
J Networking – she tries to go to 2 events a week plus the big conferences. “Your network is your net worth.”
H – Agreed with the other speakers. Plus the need to have confidence in your own abilities – be ready to translate what you are already proficient in and can bring to the gaming business.
All the speakers stressed the fast paced and 24/7 nature of working in gaming – it’s a career which you need to be completely committed to. Exhilarating and even addictive but can be exhausting!
Q2 How do you create work life balance in such a fast paced industry?
A – Just accept that it is always going to be a challenge – and if you have children be prepared to ask your friends to babysit!
V – On the one had it’s incredibly demanding working across international time zones – and sometimes physically travelling across them too – but as a balance to that you often have the flexibility to work anywhere.
J – Carve out some time for yourself to get to the gym and ideally take regular breaks at weekends. Don’t expect to see friends and family during the week but do protect some time for yourself to prevent burn-out.
Q3 Why aren’t more women attracted to working in the industry?
H – perhaps they are intimidated by idea – and don’t realise that their skills and experience can be transferable
J – Could be a matter of confidence. Her advice is if we want more women – then hire them!
K – The games industry needs people to be fully dedicated to working in it and that can be a challenge for women with families
A – When you have young children it can be very challenging. Having worked in games for many years she realised that some companies are exploiting the fact that everyone in it is so passionate about it by demanding they work very long hours – sometimes she now pushes back on that.
H – The games industry is a particularly demanding environment because of the constant need for updates and the need to watch the data and analytics to see how they are being played – also it is a hyper competitive space right now.
Q – What do you do to help with stress?
Anna and Jude both meditate. Jude also recommends getting in good software to help streamline systems and processes.
Himan recommends cultivating the ability to continuously re-prioritise and if it isn’t a priority – “let it go and move on”.
So that’s it! A fascinating insight in to the fast-paced and ever- growing Mobile Gaming industry from 4 women who have embraced the challenges of working in it and are clearly loving the creativity and excitement of their chosen careers.
*Full bios here
Victoria Pavlova is a successful entrepreneur and marketing expert with more than 15 years of experience working in the global gaming, e-commerce and consumer sectors.
She is the Co-Founder of several businesses including mobile gaming company Lextre, the makers of the Perfect Shift drag racing mobile game. Prior to this, she was Global Marketing Director at gaming and entertainment company ZeptoLab. Here, she built up the marketing team from scratch and led global launches for games including Cut the Rope 2 and Cut the Rope: Time Travel, which saw the hit franchise reach 500 million downloads around the world. In her role at ZeptoLab, she was also responsible for securing high profile partnership and licensing agreements with the biggest retail, consumer and digital brands including Activision, ITV, and McDonald’s, helping to bring the character Om Nom into stores and the homes of happy fans.
She has a very international outlook and spends her time working between London and Moscow. She actively encourages entrepreneurship and business skills in the community, and lectures students at the Start Up Academy in Skolkovo on how to turn startups into global brands.
Jude Ower – Founder and CEO of PlayMob
Voted One to Watch in 2015 at the Talent Unleashed Awards judged by Sir Richard Branson and leaders in tech, voted top 100 women in Tech in Europe, Growing Business ‘Young Gun’ 2012, and Shortlisted on Red’s Hot Women Awards 2012 and runner up Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012. Built Playmob up to be winner of Best Start Up 2012 Launch Conference, BBAA Social Investment of the Year 2013 and Digital Leader SME 2014.
BAFTA games judge, member of UKIE (UK Interactive Entertainment), and speaker at various events such as Institute of Directors, MADE Festival, SXSW, Women in Games, Browser Games Forum, Games for Brands, London Games Conference, Social Games Summit and Tech@State. Also a Titan for Doug Richards School for Creative Startups.”
Anna Marsh – Design Director Tickity Boom Games
A game designer for over 15 years, Anna Marsh got her first job as a level designer for Sony Psygnosis’s Camden Studio. Since then, she’s worked for Acclaim, SCi/Eidos (where she was executive designer on Tomb Raider Anniversary and Underworld), and Creative Assembly, as well as freelance for clients large and small. In addition to being executive designer on Tomb Raider Anniversary and Underworld.
Anna started her own indie game company Lady Shotgun after becoming a parent and needing flexible working hours to fit around childcare arrangements, and has just formed new start up Tickity Boom making mobile game with a focus on adult female tablet gamers.
Hima Patel is a Consumer and Market Insights Manager with a wealth of experience working in the global gaming and e-commerce sector.
She currently manages the Consumer Insights and Market Analysis needs for Gomes’s, working across all brands such as Jackpot joy, Virgin Games and Sun Bingo looking at market trends to help develop the business as a whole, and understand the customer and target customer to translate their needs to business actions.
Prior to this, she headed up the Market Research and Insights Team across EMEA and APAC for a Silicon Valley based mobile gaming company Kebam, the market leaders in Free to Play games including Warner Bros titles such as The Hobbit and Marvel Contest of Champions. This involved delving into the current and future of mobile based gaming across these geographies and the likely impact on consumer spending habits. She helped to launch games and brands across strategic markets and ensured the adoption of a customer focused approach.
She has worked in Luxembourg, Berlin, New York and San Francisco and is currently based in London. She has contributed to Women in Gaming events in Berlin and blogged about the role of consumer insights in tech.