The games industry plays host to a colourful cast of diverse individuals, from designers and presenters to directors and writers.
The skills to pull off these roles, however, are complex and differing, with each position requiring mastery in its field.
As part of International Women's Day - taking place on March 8th, 2021 - PocketGamer.biz is spotlighting a number of talented women from the games industry under our Jobs in Games series, throughout the week.
Each profile will bring about a certain set of expertise, a different background, and a wealth of knowledge for women looking to join the industry or possibly find a new role within. Most importantly, there will be some key information on how to get started, what common challenges you could face, and why more needs to be done to help push female diversity in games.
Next up, we spoke with Playtika business relations manager and product lead on Solitaire Grand Harvest Jenny Raichel about how a foundation in modern languages and business can help manage any team, as well as why more female execs are needed to lead the way for others.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?
Jenny Raichel: I am the lead on product strategy and delivery for Solitaire Grand Harvest, the free-to-play game from Playtika studio Supertreat. I manage a team that is responsible for design, UX, player engagement and wider in-game innovation for the game.
I never imagined myself working in the games industry five years ago, yet now I can’t imagine myself in a different industry.Jenny Raichel
How did your journey into games begin and how did you progress into the role?
I have always been passionate about languages - they were my route into the gaming industry. I speak six languages and started out as a Chinese translator, supporting the launch of a game within the Chinese market, as well as working closely with a great team of developers based in Belarus.
I initially started on the business management side, but after four years in the industry, I’ve been able to develop my understanding of the technical and creative aspects too. My current role requires me to bring together my business management background and my sector knowledge, particularly within the free-to-play space.
Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?
I never imagined myself working in the games industry five years ago, yet now I can’t imagine myself in a different industry. I love the focus on innovation and how we’re able to learn and improve in a fast-paced way, thanks to the constant feedback we get from our player base so that we can fulfil our mission to entertain the world through infinite ways to play.
What did you study (if anything) to obtain your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?
I obtained a BA in East Asian Studies and Management from university. Having a foundation in modern languages, coupled with business management, has come in useful and I’d say provides a good foundation if your ambition is to manage a team within a global company.
What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?
The people! The team I manage has such a supportive ethos and everyone is always willing to help. It’s really a family feeling within a busy business environment, which is something special.
What do you find are the most common misconceptions, public or professional, about women working in games?
The misconception that gaming is a male-dominated industry is common but is changing fast. As I worked towards taking on my current role as product lead, I was fortunate to be mentored by an amazing woman in a senior executive role.
We need women to see other women who have done it and forged a successful career in our industry.Jenny Raichel
This was hugely inspiring for me. Ultimately, it’s the success and development of female executives that will change perceptions about gaming more than anything.
Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?
How diverse it would be in terms of the types of roles and specialisms that are available. There is no need to limit yourself to one particular direction or work ‘track’. I started as a Chinese business relations manager, and now I’m in charge of in-game products at a free-to-play title with global reach, so there is real flexibility to develop and forge your own path.
Do you feel female characters are better represented in video games today, as opposed to when you entered the industry?
Over the years, the free-to-play sector seems to have had more prominent female characters than in some other areas of the industry. I’m sure there’s still more work to do, though.
Can you tell us about some of the biggest challenges you have encountered since joining the industry?
Finding the right work-life balance is not just a slogan, but rather an actual challenge when you work in gaming. Finding the right balance is much easier said than done and managing to maintain that balance is a completely different challenge on top of that.
Finding the opportunity to take time off to recharge can be difficult, especially when you are emotionally attached to the business.
What more can be done to encourage more women to consider a career in games?
We need women to see other women who have done it and forged a successful career in our industry. Mentoring can be so powerful. There is nothing like a good role model to make you believe in yourself.
Any final bits of advice for women looking for a job in this profession?
Don’t be discouraged by the stereotype of gaming as a male-dominated industry. Women are taking hold of more and more opportunities to show what they can do and to display their professionalism and passion. Be passionate about what you do, and the rest will follow.