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International Women's Day 2023: Harriet Hughes, CMO at Playstack

We get the real state of play and showcase a world of talent for International Women's Day
International Women's Day 2023: Harriet Hughes, CMO at Playstack

Especially for International Womens Day (and continuing all week) we've created a series of interviews to co-incide with the annual celebration of women's achievements all around the world.

There's great advice for women who want to be part of the gaming world and we find out what's changed, what's changing and what still needs to change if women's voices are to be heard and gaming is to become more inclusive, more entertaining and more engaging for everyone.

We spoke with Harriet Hughes, the chief marketing officer at Playstack. Based in London, Harriet leads brand strategy and marketing, supporting developers and helping to maximise their potential.

PocketGamer.biz: Firstly, tell us about your work at Playstack

Harriet Hughes: I'm the chief marketing officer at Playstack and last year we released two games, The Case of the Golden Idol and The Entropy Centre both to huge critical acclaim with The Case of the Golden Idol being nominated for a BAFTA yesterday! 

Both are debut games and therefore phenomenal personal achievements for the developers. The Case of the Golden Idol was made by a team of two Latvian brothers and The Entropy Centre by a solo-dev based in Brighton. It’s been so inspiring seeing the quality that has come out of such small, indeed micro, studios! The Entropy Centre has two female protagonists - Aria and ASTRA - a talking gun - and seeing how the two voice actors brought the relationship between them to life, as well as a wealth of candid emotions was brilliant.

Other than that I’ve also been busy getting our merch store ready for launch. It’s exciting knowing that people will soon be able to wear the hoodie that Aria wears in The Entropy Centre as well as items from all our other brilliant games.

“There is a huge opportunity for games studios to make games targeted towards girls who have grown out of Roblox. I think there's a huge female audience for the right game”
Harriet Hughes

What made you want to work in games?

I am showing my age now but I started working at EA as a marketing and events planner for Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup which was released in 2003. I wanted to work in games because the people are so damn smart.

Do you feel like attitudes towards female gamers and women working in games have changed, and are changing?

I think it’s definitely more acceptable for a woman to be a gamer than it used to be. People are less likely to raise an eyebrow or find it odd if their daughter or sister or female friend is into games. Since its launch in 2006, I think Roblox has done a considerable amount to welcome girls into gaming. And like anything, the younger you are when you discover something you enjoy, the more likely it will stay with you for life. Roblox has around 58 million daily active players of which 44% are girls - so that is roughly 26 million girls enjoying over 40 million games every day…

I would say that there is a huge opportunity for games studios to make games targeted towards girls who have grown out of Roblox. This is challenging as I think we have a much clearer idea of what teenage boys like to play but I do think there's a huge female audience for the right game.

What do you think that having more women in games can bring to the industry and the games we all make?

Diversity of any kind, and working towards equality, means different perspectives, and different ways of problem-solving and in this case different game visions are brought to life. It can only be a good thing and exciting to think of the number of game stories that are waiting to be told from a female perspective.

What's the road ahead? How can we encourage more women to get involved and make a difference?

The games industry is a very fun career path, you get to spend your days working with extremely talented people and playing games. The industry does not stand still - every year there is new software, new hardware, and new ways of building and nurturing game communities. That means there are always so many opportunities for learning and growth, and that’s very rewarding.