In Conversation: Diversity in the Gaming Industry - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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In Conversation: Diversity in the Gaming Industry

Hannah talks diversity with an up-and-coming game's designer.

Diversity in the Game Industry is a highly publicized and heavily debated topic of interest this past year. With companies doing even more than before to not only highlight diverse talent, but to tell more diverse stories. I decided to sit down with an up-and-coming female developer to see if she can shed some light on this issue. Talking about what she has witnessed as the new generation of video game designers, and whether there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Disclaimer: The female in question is my little sister, I’m just hoping that when she’s working for some bigshot videogame company, she remembers this and hires me as her writer!

Would you like to start by telling us a bit about yourself?

I’m Eloise, 19, currently studying at Bournemouth University on the BSc (Hons) Games Design course. I’ve unfortunately not had the best start to University life due to the pandemic, but I’ve been trying to make the most of it. In terms of games, I love anything with a good story and anything with violence. In recent years some of my favourite games have been the Doom reboots, though oddly also being able to get into World of Warcraft at the same time too. My boyfriend describes me as ‘scary sometimes’ due to my seemingly innocent kitten-loving nature, when in actuality I’m gaming halfway through the guts of hell jamming to Red Handed Denial or Meshuggah.

What is your first gaming memory?

Halo 3. Everything about that game is why I’m the gamer I am now. It’s probably one of the first games I saw Dad play, either that or Halo 2. It might not have been the very first game I ever played however the hours and dedication me and my brothers sunk into that game unmatched any other. Trying to grenade spam jump out of the map, repeatedly spawn killing each other as our fellow UNSC marines looked on in sheer horror as our player bodies piled up on the ground - All of these are good memories and is what made that game special and somewhat ‘unique’ to us. However, it was an important step into my love of the Halo franchise and ultimately any FPS. Halo felt good to play and Halo 3 particularly was a beautiful culmination to the Master Chief trilogy which pitted Chief against bigger enemies like Gravemind and saw the beginning of Cortana’s rampancy and the relationship between that AI and humanity being severed. Oh - And the soundtrack was kickass.

What is a game that you will always go back to?

I will always be able to and would be happy to return to any one of the Fable games. I binged a lot of them when I was a lot younger and to me, I could forever run around Albion, chasing chickens and the like. I love almost everything about Fable in terms of the world, the style and the charm.

What made you decide to study Game Design?

It was always the story driven games which allowed me to expand my creativity. I loved the world building of Fable, for example. Sinking a lot of time into those games and playing them when I was really too young to as I was still in Primary School, I decided that I too wanted to tell the stories artistically within the games I or many others would love to play. That desire has turned me to my current path, all throughout school I geared my subjects or the art projects I did towards the games design industry - Creating concept art, whole worlds and characters as early as GCSE. Now I’m at one of the best English Universities for Game Design, learning even more to the craft.

Gaming has historically been a male dominated industry, as part of the next generation of game developers do you still feel this is the case?

Personally I believe not, at least not to a harmful level. Proportionally, there are a lot more male students on my course for example, however, it seems more and more the industry is championing and giving a voice to previously silent female developers within their teams. I feel at no disadvantage compared to my peers, this may not be the case everywhere and could very easily be the case in the future. However, a lot more is being done in terms of equality in the workplace, I will say. A few years ago, it wouldn’t have been impossible for me to make an impression in the industry as a female, but a lot harder.

How do you feel as a young female trying to get into the industry?

The industry has opened up an incredible amount in recent years, and I’m personally excited to work alongside peers who are just as excited as me to create games which are artistically gorgeous and ultimately fun to play. As previously stated, I don’t feel at a disadvantage per se, though I do recognise that a lot of women may be intimidated to join an industry historically shown to be male dominated. If you enjoy games and designing them, you’re already on the first step to joining the industry. Gender shouldn’t affect that.

It is well known that indie devs are able to freely tell more diverse stories, is this something that resonates with you?

Definitely. My favourite example of this is ‘We Happy Few’, which did go triple-A admittedly but started as wholeheartedly a passion project from ‘Compulsion Games’. The issue with bigger companies is that, of course, they will almost certainly favour profit over creativity. This from a business standpoint is understandable, at the end of the day everyone needs to get paid. However, in my opinion a lot of the time these business models will suck a lot of life out of a game. Yes, the games industry has blown up and is one of the biggest creative industries out there, but this ultimately comes with that price. It’s a lot riskier for an indie company like Compulsion Games to create a completely new game IP and have it land successfully despite how well their world in ‘We Happy Few’ is crafted. To true capitalism, the heart and soul of a game is arbitrary to a degree unfortunately and that’s why so many indie companies or even solo developers are able to create beautiful in-depth games. I value that a lot, the autonomy.

Do you feel there is more work to be done to create a more diverse space in gaming? If so, why? And How?

Gaming is becoming more and more accessible to everyone, with many games taking real-world scenarios and telling stories which are relatable to certain groups and perhaps not so relatable to others. This is okay, not every story needs to relate to you. Stories should be told how developers want to tell them; games should be made how the developers want to make them. There is plenty of diversity and variation in games themselves nowadays, so chances are you’ll find something you can relate to a bit more somewhere along the line.

What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

As Summer has begun for me I’m going to be working on my portfolio, doing some digital art to bulk up that side of my skills as well as hopefully keep designing some levels in Unreal Engine 4 (Perhaps even mess around in Unreal Engine 5, which is incredibly exciting to get to test). It’s going to be important for me to keep learning even alongside my course lessons, so I think my summer will be filled with personal work and little tests here and there.

Who is your dream employer and why? (Who knows, maybe they’ll be reading this?)

Compulsion Games would be an amazing smaller company to work under due to their work ethic and their clear, distinct style. Canada isn’t too far after all, and I feel there I would be treated to the brilliance of artistic freedom. I greatly admire the work of their lead artists on We Happy Few and their previous game Contrast (Highly recommend both by the way).

However, if id Software walked in right now onto campus and said, “Eloise, come work for us, you know you want to, demons are kinda cool… Right?” - That is a pact I couldn’t refuse...

Who do you look up to in the industry?

Sarah Hamilton and Whitney Clayton are exceptionally good at their art and world building for Compulsion Games. I was able to talk to Sarah Hamilton briefly about her artwork and any tips she had to gaining a foothold in the industry. She was lovely, and I really appreciated her response and time. John Romero and Sandy Petersen are also big inspirations, for obvious Games Design nerdy reasons.

Finally, what has been your favourite reveal of E3 this year?

The Halo Infinite reveal. I had my doubts about Infinite after Halo 5 (Let’s not get into that…), however the trailers so far have proven me wrong. I adore the style of the game and how it feels reminiscent of those older games, it’s a big nostalgia kick. I’m excited to see more of the story content and any other trailers they release. The free-to-play multiplayer is an interesting direction but as long as any microtransactions they put in are purely cosmetic, I don’t think I’ll mind too much. The story is already intriguing to me and many other Halo fans, chief’s armour looks amazing, the ‘new Cortana’ actually has clothes on? Very exciting stuff.

Oh, and I can’t not mention Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. It’s about time one of my favourite Borderlands characters gets her own game and we get to see an exciting premise of making your own campaign character. It’s ‘Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep’ on steroids, what’s not to love?

If you would like to check out some of Eloise’s work as well as track her progress through the industry, you can visit

Preferring the company of fictional characters to living, breathing people; it should come as no surprise that Hannah is a connoisseur of all things geek. Whilst their body resides in the capital of Wales, their heart resides in Middle-Earth and their mind remains firmly lodged in the memory of that embarrassing thing they did when they were eight.

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