#MeetIronGalaxy – Claire Taylor
Today is National Coming Out Day! A day where everyone is invited to support the LGBTQ+ community. We were proud to adventure in the Chicago Pride parade together back in July, are looking forward to march later this month during the Orlando Pride parade, and are happy to invite one of the co-leads of the LGBTQ+ employee resource group to the blog, Claire Taylor!
Iron Galaxy: Ahoy! Who are you and what would you say you do here at Iron Galaxy?
Claire Taylor: Hi! Hi! My name is Claire and my pronouns are she/they. I am the Executive Assistant to the Co-CEOs here at Iron Galaxy as well as a co-lead of our LGBTQ+ ERG and member of our DEIA & Events Committees. In my primary role, I lead administrative functions for our Co-CEOS including, but not limited to, extensive calendar management, coordinating meetings and events, managing travel, and acting as a key point of contact to facilitate clear and effective communication.
IG: Managing 3 schedules and co-leading a group must require extreme attention to detail. Keep up the good work! What is one significant skill you learned growing up that you still use now?
CT: The most important skill I learned growing up is how to thrive in fast-paced environments. I spent most of my early years in the workforce in restaurants and the theatre industry. I had to learn very quickly how to keep calm in stressful situations and adapt to an ever-changing landscape.
IG: Overseeing multiple people sounds like home to you. What has been your proudest moment at Iron Galaxy?
CT: Marching in the Chicago Pride Parade with my coworkers was a moment where I really felt proud to work here at IG. Marching alongside my coworkers, showing support, and celebrating together reassured me that I am welcome to bring my whole authentic self to work every day. We also had friends and family join us. It was really inspiring to have been a part of creating a space for people to come out and celebrate being themselves.
IG: Everyone that got to participate had an amazing, love-filled time. Thanks for organizing. What’s the best thing about working at a video game development company?
CT: I’m sure many people have said this before me and many will after, but it’s the people. I feel so privileged to work alongside so many passionate, hardworking, nerdy people. Everyone brings such a unique perspective to the work that they do and I have made friendships here that I know will stand the test of time.
IG: Echoing past answers just reaffirms that the sentiment is true. How collaborative are you with different teams across Iron Galaxy?
CT: I collaborate with almost every single department here at IG! By virtue of my position, I am scheduling meetings and collaborating across departments daily to facilitate communication. Each department here contributes to the amazing work that we do as a company and that’s one of my favorite parts of the gig. Making games is a real team effort and I am honored to be able to support our teams by taking care of the administrative side of things so they can focus on making great games.
IG: Speaking of taking care of people… as the lead of the LGBTQ+ ERG, what prompted you to lead the group and what are you hoping to accomplish with other DEI leads?
CT: I was excited to join our ERGs and our DEIA Committee to collaborate with other passionate people on how to make our company a safe and welcoming space for all. Growing up I always felt a little bit out of place, and I want to become someone that little me could have looked up to, to show that it’s actually really cool to be yourself regardless of what other people think. I knew that joining the ERGs and DEIA Committee would put me in conversation with people who could teach me about their unique perspectives and show me how to show up as a better ally and activist. Our ERGs have grown so much since I started here, and it’s been fulfilling to see how our work in the DEIA Committee extends beyond the community at IG and affects the games we create and the cities that our studios call home.
IG: What is a piece of media or entertainment that you’d recommend that covers the significance of National Coming Out Day?
CT: I would highly recommend Heartstopper on Netflix! It’s based on a webcomic and graphic novel of the same name by Alice Oseman and follows the lives of two boys, and the community around them, as they meet and fall in love. It’s a beautiful representation of both the joy and the sorrow inherent within the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. Plus, it’s just really cute.
IG: What’s your favorite video game that features a LGBTQ+ character?
CT: I don’t know if this counts, but Stardew Valley really rewired my brain. I grew up playing Harvest Moon games and farming sims wanting to escape into a world where I could live a peaceful farm life taking care of livestock, planting crops, and building community. When I first played Stardew and found that I could marry whoever I wanted regardless of gender it was mind blowing. LGBTQ+ and other marginalized individuals can feel more comfortable in their identity when they have role models, which they can create for themselves in video games. Representation matters! When the real world fails to provide safe spaces to express one's gender and sexuality, the virtual world can be a sanctuary where people can be free to be themselves.
IG: Stardew Vallery most definitely counts! Representation will always matter. What hometown do you represent?
CT: I grew up in the small town of Bernardsville, New Jersey and spent most of my life living on the East Coast before I decided to pick everything up and come to Chicago. I’ve been in Chicago for almost 5 years now (whoa) and I have no intention of leaving. The only thing I miss from my hometown though is a good New Jersey bagel which you absolutely cannot get out here in the Midwest.
IG: You are certainly our quintessential judge of quality bagels here at IGC. If one were to visit New Jersey for a bagel, what spot would you recommend?
CT: It’d have to be Bagels-4-U!
IG: What’s another favorite hobby of yours? Aside from playing video games.
CT: Not exactly a hobby, but when I’m not at work or playing video games you can find me working weekends at the circus! I am a substitute stage manager for a cirque experience that combines music, comedy, a four-course meal, and death-defying circus acts. As a stage manager I sit in the booth and oversee the whole show from start to finish calling cues that change lights and sound, cue artists, and keep the show running smoothly. It is my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning.
IG: We’re starting to think that you have an itch for looking out for people you can’t stop scratching! Responsibility is your best friend. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
CT: For this, I’d have to go with soup. It’s my most favorite of all the foods because it’s so versatile. You can have cold soups to cool off in the summer and warm, hearty soups in the winter. I would also consider ramen a soup and that is a staple of my diet.
IG: Where is your favorite travel destination that you’ve gotten to visit?
CT: I got the chance to study abroad for a semester in Italy and it was, for lack of a better term, life-changing. I studied physical theatre and commedia at the Accademia dell ’Arte in Arezzo, Italy and the experience really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was always very shy growing up and being in an environment where I was forced to be silly and really use my whole body to embody a character helped me come into myself in a way I never expected. I also learned how to do a headstand which is pretty darn cool, and I make sure to do one everyone once in a while, so I don’t forget how!
IG: What is your favorite book or series?
CT: I really loved Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao. It’s a sci-fi retelling of the rise of Wu Zeitan, the only female emperor in Chinese history. There’s giant mechas, revenge, mythology, and a love triangle for the ages. I listened to the audio book on a drive home from IL to NJ and had to pull into a rest stop towards the end because I was crying so hard.
IG: What was the last concert you saw?
CT: I just saw Chappell Roan at the House of Blues here in Chicago. She is a queer artist who started making music and art so she could become the representation that she was missing when she was a young kid growing up in the Midwest. She had three local Chicago drag queens open for her and it was a phenomenal concert. Highly recommend looking up “Pink Pony Club” if you’re looking for some new music.
IG: Continuing with music interests, what’s one song most likely to earn you a speeding ticket?
CT: It would have to be TNT by AC/DC. That’s my theme song and it’s hard not to step on the gas when any AC/DC comes on.
IG: What game have you spent the most time playing?
CT: Stardew Valley! My favorite time is spent in co-op games with my friends. I had to leave a lot of people I love behind when I chose to move to Chicago and Stardew has kept me connected to many of my friends from home. We chat and catch up while taking care of our farm and the collaborative nature of the game brings us closer together.
IG: What movie have you seen the most times?
CT: That would be Pirates of the Caribbean. Not only is it an awesome movie, but I also just really love pirates. We did a PowerPoint Party at work a few years ago and I used it as an opportunity to wax poetic about badass female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Reed. I won’t go too in-depth here but will share my favorite fun fact about them; legend says in their final battle when their ship was overpowered and they were clearly outnumbered, Anne and Mary refused to surrender. The rest of the crew cowered in the hold while they fought the battle alone. Anne and Mary were eventually overpowered and taken prisoner, but they went down fighting!
IG: What has been your favorite series binge?
CT: All of Star Trek. I could talk for hours about how much I love the Star Trek series and universe. I have always been fascinated by space and I love the focus on exploration in the series. Star Trek, specifically the next generation, was so ahead of its time. Seeing a female captain of a star ship in the Voyager series gave me a role model I had been sorely lacking in my young adult life. I love to put on random episodes in the background while I’m doing work even though I can occasionally get distracted when a really good episode comes on!
IG: What is the one superpower that you would like to have?
CT: Easy, telekinesis. Just imagine being able to readjust your car into a tough parking spot or fold all your laundry with your mind.
IG: What fictional universe would you choose over our own?
CT: I’d love to live in the Pokémon universe! It was the first game I really played as a kid and started my love of video games. I would love to have a team of Pokémon by my side as I go through life. If I had to build my own team I think I’d have to go with Snorlax, Swampert, Chandelure, Togekiss, Sprigatito, and Tyranitar. Playing Pokémon Go is one of my favorite ways to get outside and get some fresh air.
IG: There’s been nothing quite like that summer of 2016 when Pokémon Go was released. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you invite?
CT: That’s easy, Joni Mitchell. I have always loved her music growing up and she has become such an influential artist in the music industry. I would love to pick her brain about the inspiration behind her songs and maybe even get a chance to sing with her.
Thank you for popping out on National Coming Out Day Claire! Getting the chance to interview both you and Chiara Marcario, the leads of our LGBTQ+ employee resource group has been a true treat for the blog this year. Your efforts toward making Iron Galaxy an inviting and safe space is frequently felt around each studio. You are a steward of Iron Galaxy culture!
We’re hiring, and you are invited to learn more about our DEIA initiatives and open positions. Visit our DEIA page and Careers page to find more information about Iron Galaxy.