#MeetIronGalaxy - Black ERG Edition
At Iron Galaxy, our team of inspired and motivated people are essential to our company's success. Our different backgrounds and views help us create broad, exciting, and unique gaming experiences. This recurring series of interviews is a chance for us to introduce them to you and let them tell their story.
As part of our recognition of Black History Month, today we're talking to members of our Black Employee Resource Group. Let’s learn about their experiences in this industry.
Header image from left to right: Archie Easter, Tierra Jackson, Chris Moore, Eric Sheppard, and Yohanne Mwale.
Iron Galaxy: How did you get your first job working in games?
Archie: My first job in the industry was at Wargaming Chicago (formerly Day 1 Studios.) Having been a fan of giant robots from a young age, I was naturally drawn to a developer of mech combat games. I applied and followed-up until I was able to get an in-person interview. It went (surprisingly!) well and I landed a spot on the team as a QA tester soon after.
Tierra: This is my first job in games! My background is in the legal field. I decided that I wanted a career change. I've always been an avid gamer, so this opportunity seemed like a great fit.
Chris: Toward the end of my junior year of High School, my career counselor setup interviews with a number of companies (IG) being one of them. I took advantage of the opportunity as an intern, and I have been a part of the IG family ever since.
Eric: IG is actually my first job in games! I had taken time off work to focus on switching careers, went to GDC, handed out business cards like crazy, only to get a message on Twitter from Adam Heart about openings at IG. While going to GDC didn't directly lead to my job here, it helped me get caught up with the state of the industry and got me thinking about places I would like to work.
Yohanne: I was looking for work and EA happened to be hiring entry level QA Analysts. I actually didn't even feel interested initially but my sister talked me into going for it. I had to do an interview and a test, I'm pretty sure I aced both. And thus began my journey.
IG: When did you know you wanted to work in games?
Archie: I realized that I wanted to be in games a few years out of high school. I had been a fan of games since I was a kid and I followed industry news regularly, but the thought didn’t cross my mind to pursue a career in games until much later. I guess a part of me still had doubts that I’d be able to get into the industry because of how competitive I heard it could be. Ultimately, I took a leap of faith and I’m eternally grateful that I did.
Tierra: It was never a specific desire. It's safer to say that the opportunity to work in the gaming industry presented itself.
Chris: I didn't really know that I wanted to work in games until I was working in games. As an intern, I learned a lot of things that went into games, and I wanted to be a part of it.
Eric: From what I can remember, I have always wanted to be a game programmer, aside from a small period of time as a child where I wanted to be an astronaut.
Yohanne: In 10th grade, I had been introduced to PC gaming by a neighbor in the apartment building my family lived in, a few years prior... but particularly in 10th grade, I had a copy of PC Format magazine and in it there was an article about Electronic Arts. They really sold the passion at the time. I remember thinking it would be awesome to work there.
IG: What's one thing you wish someone had told you about working in games before you started working in the industry?
Archie: I wish someone would have told me about all the people and moving parts that it takes to get a AAA game from concept to something that you can sit down and play. I had a slight inkling of the amount of work that it takes early on, but it was still a bit of a shock to see everything that goes into achieving a successful game release.
Tierra: This is the first time that I've been on the "business end" of gaming industry and it has been an eye-opening experience. When I'm playing a game, I never considered the effort that is required for it to be successful so that's been interesting to learn about and be part of.
Chris: I wish that someone would have told me about all the different disciplines that it takes to make games.
Eric: I didn't realize how much time would be spent in meetings, and how important proper planning and scheduling is.
Yohanne: I wish someone had warned me of the lack of diversity and how it correlated to many of the challenges I would come to be aware of. I often wonder if knowing this when I was younger would really have helped or changed some of the experiences I had.
IG: What's one thing you wish people knew about working in the game industry?
Archie: Of all the things I often see, it’s that when you tell someone that you work in games, they often assume that you just sit in a chair playing various video games all day long. (I’m sure that a certain 90’s ad for a college gaming course contributed to this.) Working in the games industry can be rewarding, but there’s still a general misconception to many that since you’re creating games it’s not “real” work.
Tierra: That there's far more work involved than people suspect and even playtests can get old.
Chris: The target audience is not always what we think it is.
Eric: That there is a wide variety of jobs out there for a wide variety of skills, it’s not just programming and art! I think a lot of people assume that to work in games you need to have some sort of technical skill, or know some specific technology, when there’s a lot of roles like IT where you may not be working directly on games, but you are still a valued member of the team ensuring that everyone is able to work smoothly.
Yohanne: There is still a lot of work to be done in diversifying talent and building inclusive cultures in a lot of spaces. You really have to look for places that can be a good fit if it’s something that may affect you.
IG: What would you like to see happen that would improve the game industry?
Archie: While I’ve always loved the games industry, there are numerous areas that still need improvement. Strides need to be made in phasing out crunch, increasing diversity and improving company culture industry wide. While player sentiment is always important when creating games, many companies need to take a more vested interest in employee satisfaction and morale.
Tierra: Well, I can think of a few things. Diversification of organizations at all levels, specifically management and executive levels, more efforts to expand STEM knowledge to historically marginalized communities, more concerted effort to hire outside of typical recruitment pools.
Chris: Have classes/info sessions about all the disciplines.
Eric: I think the industry has a long way to do towards improving gaming culture itself. I think things like explicit harassment and racism are so rampant that many games are removing the ability to communicate with strangers completely. It’s a hard problem, but I think that if we are building experiences for players to enjoy together, there are things we can do to try to steer the communities attached to our games to be more positive and inclusive for newcomers.
Yohanne: More diversity in leadership will help us build a stronger culture of inclusivity which will in turn help us make games with a better brand of collaboration and may help us tell better stories and or have more creative and different approaches to gameplay than what’s already in existence.
IG: What's one skill that you think is important for people who want to work in your discipline in games?
Archie: One of the most important skills to have to work in production would be learning when to listen and not letting personal ideas get in the way of what’s best for the team or the game. Learning to rely on the strength of your team and making sure that they have all the tools they need to be effective is one of the most important skills to possess.
Tierra: I think the ability to see multiple perspectives is important primarily because the industry is so collaborative. You must be willing to listening and learning from your teammates.
Chris: Communication, and reporting. Being able to talk to people is a huge part of working on any team, as well as being able to report any bugs/issues you come across.
Eric: I think it’s important for programmers to learn a little about the workflow of the other disciplines because it helps you communicate with them better.
Yohanne: Communication, the ability to listen, learn, apply, and communicate to others. Game development is collaboration, and its good work can't be done without great communication.
We're constantly growing, and we're looking for people with varied experiences to join our team. If you want to work with our group of fantastic individuals making great things, view our career page and see if there is a fit for you.