Interview

Speaker Spotlight: DigiPen Institute of Technology lecturer Jo Cronk to discuss culture and diversity at PGC Seattle

Speaker Spotlight: DigiPen Institute of Technology lecturer Jo Cronk to discuss culture and diversity at PGC Seattle

Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 will take place on May 13th to 14th. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.

For more details on PGC Seattle and to book a ticket, head to the website here.

Today we're speaking to DigiPen Institute of Technology lecturer Jo Cronk ahead of her panel on 'Culture and Diversity'.

Cronk is a software engineer and UX specialist with over two decades of experience in the video games industry.

She has a B.S. in Human Centered Design and Engineering from the University of Washington, where she received the Undergraduate Award of Excellence for demonstrating special strength in innovation.

Coming from a background in gameplay and tools programming at studios such as Crystal Dynamics, Snowblind Studios, PopCap Games and Wargaming, she now teaches Technical Design at the DigiPen Institute of Technology while conducting research in related topics across multiple fields.

PocketGamer.biz: Could you tell us a bit about the company?

Jo Cronk: DigiPen Institute of Technology offers accredited bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science, engineering, art, music and design.

What does your role entail?

In addition to teaching Technical Design, UX, UR, Unity, C#, and general Design courses, I also design curriculum, conduct research, develop prototypes, mentor students and assist groups working on team-based game projects.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

Video games taught me to love computers at an early age. I was in middle school when I decided to become a programmer.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

Even if your interests mainly lie in art or design, learn some coding skills. (Technical artists and technical designers are always in demand. No one needs a pure "idea guy" - we're all idea people.)

Create a reasonably-scoped indie game with a small team to prove to employers that you can work well with others and are capable of following a project through to completion. If you need structured guidance for portfolio development, consider tertiary education.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

Developers are beginning to be more vocal about injustices and poor working conditions. This is necessary for those conditions to change.

Thankfully, it seems like more employers are coming to terms with the facts that 1) perma-crunch is not productive or sustainable, and 2) supporting diverse workforces forces companies to take a hard look at their current recruiting and hiring practices (as well as the behaviour of executive leadership).

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

More discussion around unionising; the continued search for "killer" AR/VR/MR/XR apps.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

I'm just glad to not be the only female engineer on my teams (or worse, the only female developer in a studio) anymore. There is still a lot of room for improvement, however.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

Once you've been in the industry for a while, many of your friends and colleagues will have moved away at one point in time or another for work.

Events like these are opportunities for us to come together geographically and reconnect.

Find out more about Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 on the website.


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