Women who are gainfully employed in the games industry are becoming more and more common. The assumption that video games are a man’s domain is finally becoming outdated. Women are playing and working with video games in astounding numbers. According to the ESA, 39% of game players are women. While the percentage of women working in the industry is still small, these women are paving the way for equality in this environment as well. More and more young women are going to technical schools and getting hired by game developers who see the value of a female perspective when creating video games.
So, how did these women get started and why do they do it? Those are the questions I want answers to, so I ask. This will be a continuing series of profiles of the women who have broken stereotypes and taken jobs in the video game industry.
Samantha Ryan is one such woman. She happens to the President/CEO for Monolith Productions. What’s a President/CEO do and how did she get her start? Read on to find out.
Name: Samantha Ryan
Title: President/CEO, Monolith
What’s your earliest memory of video games? Did you grow up on games or did you find them later in your life?
My father was what the industry refers to as an “early adopter.” We always had the latest electronic gadgets, games and devices before everyone else. This included all the early consoles from Atari, the Commodore 64, and a few others.
What kind of education do you have and has it prepared you well for this industry?
Back in the good old days, there was no such thing as an education for computer games. My degree is in Broadcast Production. Some of this knowledge has crossed over. But most I simply learned through the school of hard knocks.
What type of work did you do before you got into the industry and what jobs in the industry have you held?
Just before I decided to make the switch to games, I was working for Infinity Broadcasting, which is primarily a radio company. Once I jumped over to games, I started in marketing, but over time, moved into the production side of the business.
Was your entry into working with video games planned or chance? What initiated your interest in working in this industry? How did you get started in the industry?
I was tired of broadcast, which felt old and stale. I wanted to be in an industry that was fresh and cutting edge. I loved playing games and decided to make my move. That being said, it was not easy to make the transition. Employers prefer someone with direct experience already, not someone from another industry. You have to be more creative in your search in order to break through this invisible boundary.
How long have you been working in the industry?
About 8 years.
What does your job entail? What is an average day like?
My day-to-day activities flux based on the projects we have in development and the administrative needs of the company. My goal is to hire great people and empower them to make decisions for the good of their projects and the company as a whole. I can then function as the glue that holds all the projects and support functions together.
Do you feel you are advantaged or disadvantaged as a female in an industry so dominated by men? Do you have any examples of situations where you feel you had an advantage because you were female? Any where you think being a woman played against you?
In my experience, being a woman in a male dominated industry has been neutral. There are rare occasions where I might be at a slight advantage or disadvantage, but these balance out. This may be because the games industry as a whole is more progressive than other industries. Iâ€™m not sure. I do know that I donâ€™t think of myself as a woman when I make decisions. I simply do the best job possible as a representative of the human race.
Do you consider yourself a hardcore gamer? How many hours a week do you get to play (besides the title you are working on)?
I used to be a hardcore gamer. I donâ€™t qualify in that category any longer, but I still play a couple hours a week on average.
What settings and genres do you enjoy most? Least?
I donâ€™t have any setting preferences. As for genres, I enjoy strategy games on the PC such as the AOE/AOM series, StarCraft and Rollercoaster Tycoon. I also like shooters such as HL2 and the Thief games, and MMOâ€™s like UO and SWG. On console, itâ€™s mostly action games like Metroid, POP, and Burnout, or RPG/survival horror stuff like the RE series, FF series, etc. My least favorite genre would be sports. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve ever played a pure sports game.
If you can talk about it, can you tell us some about the project you are currently working on?
Monolith currently has four projects in development. The Matrix Online and F.E.A.R. both ship in 2005. The other two titles are not yet announced, although one of them will finally be announced in February.
Do you have any advice for females who would like to get into the industry?
Be in this industry because you love this industry. We are still a young industry in many ways, and this offers a lot of opportunity for those with confidence in themselves and a desire to make great games.