September 18, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Women share game industry career advice

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REDMOND, Wash.--When a friend was returning from maternity leave a few years ago, video game professional Shannon Loftis made a point of sending her a lengthy e-mail spelling out the things she had learned upon coming back to work after the birth of her own son.

Later, the friend asked if she could pass it on to another friend who had just had a baby. Loftis said yes.

Nearly four years after that, as Loftis was finishing up maternity leave after the birth of her second child, the very same e-mail--detailing strategies for handling the many demands of family and the office--found its way into her in-box.

Loftis' story was emblematic of the issues that all video game professionals, but perhaps women more than men, deal with as they navigate the realities of a profession that requires long hours and doesn't do much to help employees manage their dual--home and work--lives.

That's why at least 150 people gathered here, at Microsoft's RedWest facility, for Women in Games International's one-day conference, "The Balancing Act: Game Industry Careers and Quality of Life."

Women's long-term quality-of-life issues are different than men's.
--Bonnie Ross,
Microsoft Game Studios

Over the course of several hours, a keynote address, two panels and several workshops, those in attendance discussed how to keep happy while working in an industry famous for the stresses under which it puts its workers.

The event was seen by some as a replacement for the Women in Games conference that last year was held in conjunction with the Austin Games Conference. This year's AGC, held earlier this month, did not host a women's event.

Befitting the interest that so many women have in learning how to tackle these issues, the ratio of men to women at the event--usually at game industry confabs there are at least 10 men for every woman--was turned on its head. If 10 percent to 12 percent of the industry's professionals are women, it seemed almost like all of them were on hand here Saturday.

The day started with a keynote address by Bonnie Ross, director of production for Microsoft Game Studios publishing. She addressed the issue of some of the differences she'd seen over the years in how men and women deal with the fragile work-life balance, something that has come to the forefront of industry human resources issues recently, especially after well-publicized complaints and lawsuits by employees of Electronic Arts, Activision and other video game industry companies.

"Women's long-term quality-of-life issues are different than men's," Ross said. "Many of us will slow down and stall our careers to affect this balance. Men have a slow curve upward toward the pinnacle of (professional) expertise. Women will take a couple of dips."

As a result, she said, many women's video game careers never reach their full potential, and some end up leaving for other work. Thus, she said, it is imperative that the video game industry work harder to come up with ways to address women's needs.

Part of the solution, she said, is finding ways to bring more women into the industry in the first place. And that starts with intentionally promoting diversity.

"A more diverse environment is also a comfortable workplace for diverse people," Ross said. "So hopefully, they want to stay longer."

Part of making that happen, she urged the audience, begins with having women in the industry learn that they need to do a better job of networking, both for their own advancement and that of female friends and peers.

At the same time, said Paula Fellbaum, director of human resources for game publisher THQ's Relic Entertainment division, women may well force the industry to come up with new ways to handle the delicate balance between work and life.

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5 comments

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typical
Just because you have breats and a different organ down south doesn't mean you bring true diversity. Just be glad that you have choices unlike men. You can choose to work(although you whine about actually having to work, and still suck your husbands bank account dry) or you can choose to stay home and suck your husbands bank account dry.

This is very typical from women these days. They want everything men have but don't want to put in the effort required. People wonder why womens enrollments in engineering and computer science is low and not increasing. It is the same reason why stupid frat boys go into business and avoid any degree that requires real work.

Don't get me wrong, I am no corporate slave and life comes before work. Work pays for life and has no bearing on who I am. I am all for women being treated fairly, but they want special treatment on their terms only.

What they don't want is equality.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
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Missed the boat ..
Somebody obviously missed the diversity training lecture - your misogynist take on women, in or out of the workplace, only reinforces the point of the article.
Posted by fshattuck (11 comments )
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Diversity is great, but...
Diversity is almost always a good thing, but there are some points made in this article that I simply cannot agree with. First and foremost, forced diversity is NEVER good. In a world where 10% of men and 2% of women want to work for a video game company, forcing a 50/50 ratio of men to women in such a company provides nearly zero benefits... but lets look at a couple issues in particular:

<<Men have a slow curve upward toward the pinnacle of (professional) expertise. Women will take a couple of dips." >>

I see this as a choice. Women choose to have children, and my choose to stay home and take care of them. Men can also choose to stay home and raise children. It comes down to personal choice... And every choice you make can affect your goals in life. the same is true for ANYBODY... The man who takes a 4 year sabbatical is probably damaging his long-term career goals too. -and that makes perfect sense.

<<As a result, she said, many women's video game careers never reach their full potential, and some end up leaving for other work. Thus, she said, it is imperative that the video game industry work harder to come up with ways to address women's needs. >>

I completely disagree. The industry runs the way the industry runs. People go to work and like it or they don't... sometimes, if they don't like it, they quit. It has NEVER been the responsibility of the industry to address the needs of men or women in particular, but rather to provide a consistent and fair work environment. Asking the industry to adjust its practices based on your given sex is... well... sexist. If a woman wants to be CEO of a company, she may have to give up the option of being a stay-home mother. Certainly, men who become CEOs don't stay home with their children either. It is NOT the industry's responsibility to help a woman OR a man reach their career goals. Can you imagine how many CEOs each company would have?!? Individuals must work for themselves, compete with others, and make the right choices. There is no other FAIR way to acheive your career goals.

<<women may well force the industry to come up with new ways to handle the delicate balance between work and life. >>

Goodness, I hope not. The industry was never forced to help men handle the balance between work and life... if it had been, we wouldn't all be stuck in cubicles 40 hours a week with hunched backs, aching shoulders, and a to-do list at home a mile long. If your job doesn't provide you with the satisfaction you want, you should find another job. Again, to suggest that the industry should change because women want more is just wrong. Everybody wants more - and it is our personal responsibility to juggle our interests, personal lives, and careers to obtain a balance that works well.

Events designed for women - and events designed for men, are perfectly legal and acceptable in today's life... but there comes a point when we have to wonder what the motives behind these events really are. When the industry has an open conference and women turn out in lower numbers than men, part of the reason is that fewer women are working in the industry. Perhaps some of them are not interested in attending at all. And sure... perhaps some feel intimidated. But when women form their own conference, is should be perfectly acceptable to ask why. Why is an open and diverse conference not as good as a female-focused conference that preaches diversity? Because, I suspect, the goals go beyond fostering natural diversity. Certainly, this article appears to confirm that fact.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
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Welcome
I will usually come here.
Posted by meadia (1 comment )
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Now-a-days in every case women are a step ahead than men.Today I got one site http://naukriforwomen.com which is only for female candidates as only female candidates can register and they can apply for jobs.I think it is a good step towards female job seekers.
Posted by ritika2k6 (1 comment )
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