This is a guest blog from our Placement Programmer, Amy E, in which she tells us about her experiences choosing her discipline as a programmer, and speaking at a college Industry Day.
According to the Ukie Games Industry Census, women make up only 28% of people working in the games industry, and only 10% of programmers. Amy's commitment to advocating for games careers provides the representation young people need to see if we want to address this industry-wide disparity, and we're proud to have her with Sumo Leamington. If you would like more advice about speaking at industry days, you can find Amy on LinkedIn!
Getting into games
When I had just finished my GCSEs, I felt a little lost about where I wanted to go in life. I didn't know which career path I wanted to go down, but I always found myself doing creative subjects! I loved art and video games, so I decided to go to college and complete a Games Development course.
This course exposed me to lots of new tools and specialisms, including 3D art, 2D art and programming. Initially, when joining the course, I wanted to be a concept artist or an illustrator, and design and draw stuff for games. I was really inspired by video game art books. But once I tried programming I fell in love! It was so much more creative than I initially thought! Unfortunately, there weren't many other people on my course who specialised in programming. In fact, I could probably count the number of people who wanted to specialise in programming on one hand - and I was the only girl! So a lot of what I learned from the beginning was from studying in my own time and making extra projects.
Every year, the course hosts an Industry Day, when people working in the games industry come in and give presentations and share industry insights with the students. I loved these industry days during my time as a student, and I'm still in contact with some of the people who gave talks. As I'm sure you can imagine, I was very excited to be invited to do a talk at an Industry Day myself!
I thought I'd share my experiences here, in the hopes that it helps someone else who is interested in doing outreach.
Speaking at a college Games Industry Day
- Choosing a subject: It wasn't too hard to come up with a subject to speak on. I just thought back to what I would've loved to know when I was a student! There are so many things I wish I'd have known back when I was in college, so I compiled them all into a list and built my talk around that - 10 Ways to Prepare Yourself for the Games Industry.
- To script or not to script? I felt a lot more comfortable delivering this talk without a script, and instead using bullet points as a guide. I'm still considering whether I should try writing a script for future talks, but for this event, the conversational approach felt more natural.
- Being prepared: As well as a PowerPoint presentation, I also prepared a document that went into my 10 tips in more detail and brought these with me to hand out to the students so they could have something to refer to later.
- Engaging the audience: I really wanted to interact with the students and give them lots of opportunities to ask questions. So before I started the presentation or handed out any resources, I ask the students what they thought might be good ways to prepare themselves for a job in games. Their answers were great! Some things were echoed in my presentation, and some of them were new ideas, but it gave us all really strong talking points.
- Being heard: when presenting, I made sure I wasn't rushing - taking my time when talking, as well as asking questions to the students throughout the presentation. Something I did notice throughout the talk was that I'm not used to projecting my voice to a large audience! So this is something I'd like to do more research on.
You can read my full talk here - 10 tips for landing your first games industry job
When I was in college, the course was very male-dominated, and the only other programmers around me were male too. But when going back this year, I could see a lot more diversity in the new year groups - as well as more programmers!
I believe it would be so beneficial for young people who are thinking about getting into the games industry to see more women and minority genders in tech-related roles. So I really hope my presentation helped make more young people feel like they can get into the gaming industry (particularly into programming!) no matter how they identify. If you're thinking of doing some outreach yourself, I'd really recommend it. It's a great experience!