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 The assumption that video games are a man’s domain is finally becoming outdated.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 in 2006, 38% 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.
Bekah Hamilton works for Perpetual Entertainment as an Associate Producer on the Gods and Heroes game. Here’s what she had to say:
Name: Bekah Hamilton
Title: Associate Producer
Company: Perpetual Entertainment
I grew up with video games; my earliest memory was when my aunt brought home an Atari for my cousin. We thought it was the coolest thing ever & you couldnâ€™t drag us away from it! Later, my mom bought me a Nintendo & to this day sheâ€™ll tell you that the only way she could tell if I was actually sick (& not just wanting to stay home from school) was if I wouldnâ€™t play my Nintendo.
What kind of education do you have and has it prepared you well for this industry?
I loved collage so I was on the 10 year plan & ended up with multiple degrees all of which have come in handy. My education focused on the creative arts, like painting, photography, animation & creative writing.
What type of work did you do before you got into the industry and what jobs in the industry have you held?
Iâ€™ve had many different jobs over the years from bookkeeping to managing a dry cleaning store. Iâ€™ve also had the opportunity to work in more creative and fun jobs. I worked for Cox Cable in AZ as an assistant editor working on local commercials. Defiantly the most interesting and challenging job has been being a producer for Perpetual, which is my first job in the industry
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?
After graduating with my animation degree I worked for a small local (Bay Area) start up animation company doing 2D & 3D animation. Since the company was so small I started taking on more producer type tasks which got me really interested in becoming a producer. I knew some people in the games industry and the opportunity to work at Perpetual came up so I jumped on it.
How long have you been working in the industry?
Iâ€™ve been in the industry for a little over a year.
What does your job entail? What is an average day like?
My job and daily tasks have changed so dramatically over the past year, even on a day to day basis they arenâ€™t the same. Currently I am helping out with the balancing and tuning of our game. Being a producer, my main job is to make sure people are communicating & when things are broken or people are blocked from doing work, I figure out ways to fix the problem. Great communication skills & an almost neurotic sense of order are a must for my job.
Currently the most exciting moment in my job is actually seeing everything come together. We are getting closer & closer to shipping our game and everyday when you jump in the game you see something new or something thatâ€™s been greatly improved. Itâ€™s a very exciting time at our company.
What is your least favorite thing about working in the industry?
Honestly I havenâ€™t found anything that I donâ€™t consider worth the payoff of getting to work in an industry that can be so fun & rewarding. The hours can get long & the stress can be hard to deal with but both of those things I bring on myself so I canâ€™t complain 🙂
What is the one misconception you feel people have about working in the industry in your type of position?
That itâ€™s easy & all we do is sit around all day playing video games all day. Itâ€™s so far from the truth, I usually work 12 hour days & I havenâ€™t had time to play a video game during the week for months now. Any game time I get is weekends only.
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? Anywhere you think being a woman played against you? Any anecdotal stories where being female played a part?
I think the industry is evolving and there are more women in the industry now than there were even 5 years ago, and it seems that more women in the industry is a welcome change. As for advantages, I havenâ€™t seen many just because Iâ€™m a woman, you have to work hard to make it anywhere and it doesnâ€™t matter if you’re male or female.
I donâ€™t consider myself a hardcore gamer, but I have sat for 10 hours straight playing WoW. Unfortunately now with the schedule Iâ€™m keeping I donâ€™t get much time to play many games. I still play for a few hours on the weekends if Iâ€™m not working.
What settings and genres do you enjoy most? Least?
I like adventure games & my characters in WoW are on a role playing server which has been pretty fun. Iâ€™m not much of a fan of the first person shooters, I just couldnâ€™t ever really get into them.
If you could pick one game as the best game ever, what would it be?
I donâ€™t think I could pick just one! As a kid I wouldnâ€™t have hesitated, Super Mario Bros. 3 was my favorite; I played that game over & over again. Currently I really love the Sly Cooper series for the PS2 & I still like to jump in and play WoW when I have time.
If you could tell developers of games to make sure to put one thing in games to appeal to a broader audience which includes women, what would that one thing be?
A good portion of women tend to be more casual gamers so Iâ€™d say they should take that into consideration if they want to attract a broader audience.
Do you have an opinion about the current state of the industry with regard to females and gaming? If so, what is it?
Itâ€™s changing, more women are getting into the industry and there are more female consumers out there now. Change is slow but gaming isnâ€™t just a guy thing anymore.
If you can talk about it, can you tell us some about the project you are currently working on?
Gods & Heroes is a fun and exciting MMO, itâ€™s really coming together and I always look forward to the company wide play tests when I get to play with other people. We are set to release early next year & have a ton of info up on our websites www.godsandheroes.com and http://community.godsandheroes.com.
Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to get into the industry?
As with anything, you need to be passionate about wanting to work in this industry. It takes a lot out of you but itâ€™s also the most rewarding job Iâ€™ve ever had. This industry is still very small and itâ€™s all about making good contacts & having a great work ethic. Anything is possible, so if you want it bad enough go for it!
What are your favorite games? Favorite movies? Favorite Authors? Inspirations? What do you like doing in your free time?
I have a bunch of favorite things & itâ€™s hard for me to just pick a couple but Iâ€™ll try ;-p
Favorite games: Iâ€™m currently playing the Sly Cooper series. Iâ€™m still working on the third one but I really loved playing the first two. I also really have enjoyed the Kingdom Hearts games, Neverwinter Nights & its expansion packs (though some of the best adventures with my friends were when we were playing some of the mods that other players made) & WoW
Favorite movies: I have a wide range of movies that I like but Iâ€™ll limit to just a few that I likedâ€¦I recently saw The Departed & would recommend it to anyone. I still really enjoy animation films & I think Monsters Inc will remain one of my favorite 3D animations, as far as 2D animation, I like the classics like Cinderella as well as the more recent Miyazaki films.
Favorite authors: I enjoy a lot of the â€œmain streamâ€ authors but especially John Saul, Iris Johansen, Clive Cussler & James Patterson. I also really like J. R. R. Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe & Shakespeareâ€¦I spend a good a majority of my free time reading (especially sitting on Bart on my way to & from work) and Iâ€™m always looking for a good story to take me away for a few minutes.
My inspirations: Many people have inspired me over the years but the one person who has always pushed me to follow my dreams has been my mom (I know itâ€™s cheesy, but true). If it werenâ€™t for her support & faith in me I wouldnâ€™t be where I am doing my dream job right now.
In my very limited free time I like to read, play video games & get out of the house as much as possible. I enjoy traveling but hardly have time to do it so I usually task short day trips to little beach towns or up to the mountains.