It can be daunting walking into one of the largest games industry events and not knowing anyone besides your colleagues. Jayvian Hong, a Senior Commercial Associate at Miniclip, experienced this when she attended her first big industry event in 2014. Together with Catherine Chew, Portfolio Strategy and Insights Co-lead at King, they discovered the power of connecting and supporting one another. Fast forward to 2020, where they turned their experience into a digital gathering, showcasing inspirational women in the games industry.
Miniclip caught up with Jayvian to understand why she felt the need to start Game Changers.
Start at the beginning.
“2015 was my first experience attending the Games Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.” It is the world’s largest and longest-running professional game industry event, with tens of thousands of attendees participating each year. Although I attended the event with an experienced Miniclip team, it was incredibly daunting walking into a room full of people I didn’t recognise, all engaged in conversation.
“The following year in 2016, I met and became friends with Aurora Klæboe Berg (COO at Medal.tv). We decided the next time we attended a games conference, we’d organise a breakfast gathering and invite other women who are attending the event, to connect, share experiences, and make new friends! We held our first one in 2017 at GDC. We then continued running these breakfast meetups every year during GDC. We extended it to Pocket Gamer Connects in London together with Anette Dahlstrøm Ståløy, VP of Business & Marketing at Dirtybit.
“I met Catherine (Cat) at one of these breakfasts. She suggested, aside from these annual breakfast meetups, we should organise something locally in London.”
Then a global pandemic hit
The pandemic didn’t slow down the games and entertainment industry. Business continued at an even faster pace, keeping people connected around the world with each other, gamers and employees alike. Jayvian and Cat decided they could not keep postponing their plans and made the decision that whatever they end up doing, will be online.
When ‘the online project’ became Game Changers
“We had to really think about what the unique selling point of this ‘online’ project would be. We noticed that in many online conferences, women were either given panel slots together as a ‘women’s group’ or, less frequently, were added into predominantly men panels. The audience was predisposed to perceive women speakers as ‘diversity spots’, and to perceive women speakers’ capabilities as their ability to ‘be women in the games industry’. This was something that Game Changers was created to change!
“Having women leaders whom we can learn from, look up to, and respect, can make a difference in how we see ourselves — all of us making decisions shaping the future of games. We wanted to create a platform for these exceptional women leaders to share their voices and expertise. Together, creating a strong and caring support network for women in our industry.
“When we started planning for our first webinar, we realised we knew so many incredible leaders whose experiences and stories are too good not to share. We settled on one episode a month, featuring up to three speakers per episode. Topics included market outlook, starting a gaming company, navigating large corporate organisations, leadership, team management and more.
“We hosted our first episode in July on Zoom. It covered topics around impact, outlook and the silver lining of COVID-19. We invited Isabelle Fereira, Director of Sales UK & Ireland at Adjust, Stella Wang, CEO of Dazzle Rocks; and Catalina Lou, Sales Director at Facebook. They shared their thoughts on coping with the changes and how they motivated and managed their teams through the pandemic. We were blown away by the turnout, and it further strengthened our determination to keep running Game Changers.
“We focus on showcasing the capabilities of our speakers at their roles, insights and methodologies. We hope that our attendees will walk away with knowledge and practical advice. Through this, we hope that we can then move the perception away from our speakers as ‘women speaking about being women in games to a perception of our speakers as ‘role models in games, who are women’. We hope that our audience learns to recognise the traits games leaders embody, no matter the gender, and have the confidence for equal ambitions, and make future decisions that treat all genders equally.”
“We ran a poll during the first episode of Game Changers. The data indicated that there were many of us out there, interested in connecting with peers in the industry who shared a common interest. We knew that while Game Changers is great for learning new things through the sharing of expert leaders, we lacked the peer-to-peer connection, where people could chat with each other and grow their network.
“We floated a few ideas and settled on Safe Spaces. It is a brand new initiative that builds upon Game Changers’ purpose, to help connect people in the games industry with a goal to support peers in making meaningful connections through small, moderated groups. We match groups of up to six peers, based on preferences from the RSVP questionnaire, and groups will meet once every two months to exchange ideas, advice and support. We do ask for those who sign up to commit to at least three sessions.”
Two programmes to help you to connect, share, and grow within the games industry. Inspired by a network of exceptional women and supported by two of the biggest names in mobile gaming. The next time you attend a games conference, you may have more than one buddy to hang out with for the week!
Make sure you join the next episode. If you know of women in the games industry that Game Changers should connect with, reach out to Jayvian and Cat. If you would like to share your journey and experience with others, then Game Changers want to hear from you.
The next Game Changers episode is on Thursday, 24 September at 5 pm British Summer Time.
Check out their website Global Game Changers to keep up-to-date with news and events.