Women’s History Month: Industry Pro-Tips

Happy Women’s History Month! Here at Crystal Dynamics we’re celebrating with great content and great causes – such as supporting the official International Women’s Day “Embrace Equity” campaign, raising awareness for the IRC’s “Women Won’t Wait” fundraiser, hosting several of the talented women on our narrative team in an end-of-month livestream (more details soon!), and more!   We’re also surfacing some fantastic anecdotes and advice from women throughout the industry originally featured in Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play. Remember, you can download a full PDF of the book here!  


“Always be open to new opportunities, and passion has been the single largest driver to opportunities in my career. True passion is infectious and inspires confidence from others. Secondly, don’t let fear drive you away from opportunities that are out of your comfort zone. It is very likely that you were approached because someone saw something in you. Rather than dismiss an opportunity out of turn, try to fight the imposter syndrome and recognize your own potential.   “Writing a book wasn’t on my radar until the opportunity was presented to me, and it was suggested because of the passionate way I pitched a publication (that I wanted to read as a fan!) to a partner. Fear immediately rose at the suggestion that I might author the book, and I had to fight the urge to shoot it down. But I took a breath and reminded myself that just because I haven’t done something before, doesn’t mean I’m not capable of it.”

Meagan Marie | Director of Community & Social Media | Crystal Dynamics

“You know who you are, and you belong. That is an absolute truth. This path is a journey, and though it may run the gamut of light to dark you will always find the people and things that matter. And the fact that you are here at all makes everything that much brighter always.”

Diandra Anne Lasrado | Lead Narrative Designer | Crystal Dynamics

Below are unedited excerpts from the 2018 book Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play. Contributor employer information may have changed during that time.

“My biggest piece of advice is don’t let doubt stand in your way. You have all the power over your life and no one can hold you down. If you want to work in gaming, take steps toward that. Start a blog, review games, talk to other women in those roles—heck, make a game! It can be the most terrifying thing to step outside of your comfort zone, but that’s where the best opportunities are found. But as scary as it may seem, you can do it!”

Amanda Erickson | Social Media Manager | Rooster Teeth | Austin, USA

“Making games is like being a doctor; you need to study every day. The gaming world is always changing so anyone working in the industry, or wanting to, must be constantly updated on what’s happening. About trends, about tech, about people. Never stop studying.”

Giulia Zamboni | Producer | Gamera Interactive | Padua, Italy

“If you’re still in school, and especially if you’re studying computer science, take as many classes outside of your major as possible. You will spend the rest of your life doing deeply technical things, so this is your opportunity to follow a smaller passion you might have for film or philosophy or a language. More than my computer science degree, it was all those other things I studied at school that gave me the well-roundedness it takes to work on games. Definitely draw from things outside of games for your game ideas as much as you can. On a more practical note, make sure to get an internship at a game company while you are still in school to get a sense of what the atmosphere at a game studio is like and what you might need to brush up on while there’s still plenty of time.”

Anna Kipnis | Senior Gameplay Programmer | Double Fine Productions | San Francisco, USA

“Don’t give up. There will always be hurdles and challenges, mistakes and misunderstandings, insanely busy times and pressure. Sometimes you may feel the world’s weight on your shoulders. Step back and take one task at a time; don’t be afraid to take advice and ask for suggestions. It’s an amazing industry where people are so passionate.”

Divya Sharma | Marketing Manager | Shooting Stars | Dubai, UAE

“Stay humble. I scored my first gig in the games industry out of sheer luck—being at the right place at the right time, but also by being very candid about my passion for games and very transparent about my lack of experience in the field. I always thought working in games was sort of like working in movies, that you had to know somebody to get a foot in the door. I think it’s more of a combination of being honest and upfront, humble, being open-minded, and listening more than talking.”

Geneviève St-Onge | Co-Founder | PopAgenda | San Francisco, USA

“Don’t wait for someone, or something else, to give you permission. Start making games now, use the tools at hand. Buy and read books and follow online tutorials. Make mistakes! Have friends test your game and then listen to their feedback. Don’t get defensive or over explain your choices. Take in all the feedback, sit with it for a while, and think about how you can change the system to solve any problems they discovered. But also, stay true to your own vision. Don’t feel you have to make every change they suggested. The more you do this process, the better you’ll have a feel for what works and doesn’t.”

Heather Kelley | Kokoromi Member & Assistant Teaching Professor | Carnegie Mellon University | Pittsburgh, USA

“You are in charge of your career. Don’t wait around for your manager, or your peers, to determine what your next steps are, or what’s best for you. Even the best manager won’t be a better spokesperson for you than yourself. The best manager will listen to your goals and help you achieve them, but you have to speak up for yourself first.”

Kari Toyama | Senior Producer | Private Division, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. | Seattle, USA

“I’d say there’s no ‘wrong way’ to get into this industry. Make friends with people who are already working in games. Play all the games. Play games you love, not games you ‘should.’ Try new and different things. Find your like-minded group of nerds and spend time with them. Bask in the culture. Do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door… late nights, additional roles, empty the garbage if you need to. Once you’re known for having a strong work ethic, a good sense of fun and a willingness to do the jobs no one else wants to do, the small indie studios will want to keep you. Once you ship your first game, any other studio will want you. If possible, volunteer at PAX, E3, GDC, or any other con. Find local game conventions, gaming groups, post-mortem nights, hackathons, or guest speaker events. Go to them. Stick out your hand and introduce yourself by telling others what you hope to do in gaming. Then, listen to them talk about their experiences. Take business cards and connect with people. Write little details about them right on the card, so when you follow up with them (did I mention to always follow up with anyone you meet at industry events?), you can ask about them in a personal and memorable way.”

Katherine Postma | Community Manager | Stoic | London, Canada

“Just be yourself. Everyone brings their own unique experiences to games and it’s easy to try to fit into a mold that’s been ever-present. However, it’s important to use your own voice and viewpoint because it’s unique. No one else can come to the table with what you have to offer, and those experiences matter. Have confidence in yourself. The climate surrounding the games industry can be overwhelming and overtly negative. You shouldn’t let that steer you away from what you stand for and how you intend to break in. Make your own mark in the industry.”

Kimberley Wallace | Features Editor | Game Informer | Minneapolis, USA

“This industry is a passion play. That’s why we are all here. If you don’t love it, or if you fall out of love with it, don’t be afraid to break up with it for a while. Take a breather and then come back to it.”

Kimberly Unger | Mobile/VR Producer | Playchemy | Burlingame, USA

“My advice is for women involved in business development. You will often hear, even from people who really care for you, that you should step aside at certain moments of the business process because there are male dominant companies that would prefer talking to other men. My advice is, do things your way, never step out and you’ll end up working with people who respect you.”

Laia Bee | Co-Founder | Pincer Games | Punta del Este, Uruguay

“I would genuinely suggest to go out and learn new things, try something you’ve never tried. Don’t be afraid of what the results might be or if it will be worth it. What you try might lead to new opportunities, new people, new perspectives. It might just be something you needed or something that might help you later. It’s also good practice to not to seek reward in everything you do, but to simply enjoy it as is.”

Lola Shiraishi | Producer | SEGA of America | Los Angeles, USA

“Have fun, do an honest job, be yourself, and make friends. Build your value on merit, not on political alliances.”

Magdalena Tomkowicz | “Co-Founder, Narrative Designer, Boring Documents Writer” | Reikon Games | Warsaw, Poland

“Be open to accept constructive comments and criticisms both from players and their peers. As game creators, we easily get attached to our own ideas, but sometimes the only way to improve is to reevaluate them considering diverse points of view. You shouldn’t be afraid to share your ideas at any stage of development, because you will surely get something valuable from other people’s insights.”

Maureen Berho | CEO & Producer | Niebla Games | Valparaíso, Chile

“The industry has proven to be both welcoming and beset with perils of prejudice. While it has improved, it has a way to go. Do not be timid, do not be complacent, and always remember that you are important.”

Morrigan Johnen | Community & Social Media Manager | Crystal Dynamics | Redwood City, USA

“Keep on keeping on. Keep writing. Keep networking. Keep speaking to people. Keep doing what you love, no matter what that might be. Keep teaching yourself new things, because that is the only way you get better. Keep on keeping on.”

Pippa Tshabalala | Video Game Reviewer/Presenter | Glitched | Johannesburg, South Africa

“Network. Get to know the people who do what you want to be doing. Understand the industry and the people in it. Show people that you are confident and capable and enjoyable to be around. Those relationships will be incredibly important at every stage of your career.”

Rachel Day | Senior VFX Artist | Blizzard Entertainment | Irvine, USA

“The skills needed across the gaming industry can be built through the honest pursuit of almost any passion. Whether you draw anime or play water polo or program AI or raise pigeons, your experience can help inform the next great gaming event. When I talk to young people who want a future in video games, I tell them to lean into what they love now. Become the expert in the odd thing, investigate what makes you enjoy it, explore the mechanics of how it works, study the communities around it, mark your time and effort spent with publications/content/notes/versions. Then, draw the connections to gaming. The creator of Pokémon was a bug collector who wanted to share the joy of the hobby. I honed my emcee skills waitressing and evangelizing nerd culture through school. We’re all a sidestep away from a gaming industry job.”

Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico | esports Host | CSA | Irvine, USA

“If you want to make a game, make a game! We’re living in an age of unprecedented access to resources, from paper prototypes to real-time game engines; access to education, from game design degrees to YouTube tutorials; and access to creators and devs, from conference highlights to Twitter and other social media. There’s really no wrong way to get inspired, get your start, and get something out there. Want to make a game about opening a Marionberry Jam shop? Do it. A game about radishes that ride horses? Make it so. A game about a moon that wants to become a star? Why aren’t you already making this game?! The independent games community is thriving and robust. There’s no better time than now to be a creator or a lover of games.”

Shana T Bryant | Senior Producer | Private Division, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. | Seattle, USA

“Dream big and take giant steps. Go to the people you admire and ask them for advice. Everything is within your reach if you give yourself the time and the flexibility.”

Catherine Vandier | Marketing & Communications Manager | Electronic Arts | Guildford, UK

“When you’re motivated and ready to work, the idea of taking your time to get ahead is not always the first approach. As humans we naturally gravitate toward instant gratification, forgoing the necessary building blocks that result in a fulfilling career and, as women, we are especially prone to that notion. We’re constantly being told that we have limited time, that our biological clock is ticking, and that if we don’t make our careers happen fast, we may never get there. It’s BS that women are fed this message from the moment they enter the workforce and made to feel rushed, but it’s an unfortunate reality. My advice is to put that perception in a box somewhere, because it will only serve as a distraction. Instead, focus on what’s really important for any industry hopeful—and that is baby steps. Focus on accomplishing little, achievable goals every day. Keep your eye on the prize, but never be too anxious to get there. Every brick counts when building a house. If you skip bricks or take shortcuts, you may reach your goal but it might not be exactly what you hoped for. Parts of it will feel flimsy and you’ll find yourself struggling to sustain it. Recognize the value in the small strides you make; they really matter. When you finally reach the height of your career, you’ll be grateful you took your time with them.”

Naomi Kyle | Actor, Host, & Producer | Los Angeles, USA

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