We are in a pivotal moment. For decades, no matter the industry, people of colour have suffered through a lack of opportunity and a lack of respect, leaving them stuck playing second fiddle throughout their careers.
The games industry is no different, and here at PocketGamer.biz we wanted to do our part and help bring attention to the many incredible people of colour that help make up this sector. That is why we are committing to a new long-term regular feature to spotlight these people and their careers.
So, welcome to our 'POC in Mobile' series, where discussion about finding a place in the games industry, the various challenges faced as a minority, and what truly needs to be done to make games more diverse will be the focal points of conversations.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you start off by telling us about your role in mobile games and what it entails?
Ronny Yoon: I am a quality assurance manager at SciPlay. The QA team is responsible for testing the app and providing feedback to the rest of the development team.
Attending games conventions and talking to people about their personal experiences in the industry can be eye-opening and useful in learning about the business.Ronny Yoon
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
I’ve been playing games for as long as I can remember. I can recall playing on a Commodore 64 system and saving up money to buy a Nintendo. My list of gaming memories goes on and on. So when I had the chance to turn my passion for gaming into a career opportunity, how could I say no?
How would you recommend people get started in games? Any tools or literature you would advise?
Quality assurance is a great way to get started in the games industry. We interact with so many disciplines within the development cycle. It gives us a great deal of insight into how a game is made from start to finish and everything in between.
Networking is also another great way to get involved in the industry. Attending games conventions and talking to people about their personal experiences in the industry can be eye-opening and useful in learning about the business. Every company has its own unique culture and finding a good fit is important. Another good way to network is to find out if there are any local developer get-togethers in your area.
What did you study (if anything) for your role? Are there any courses out there that you would advise for aspiring professionals?
I had no formal education or training prior to working in QA. Everything that I learned about how to do my job effectively came from hands-on experience and learning by doing. I do think that there are plenty of great resources out there for people to proactively educate themselves on their own time.
Do the research to investigate what the job really entails. I’ve encountered a lot of people that think working in the games industry means sitting around playing games all the time, but it is much more than that. So do that research!
What do you think should be done to improve diversity, not only across the games industry, but across all industries?
It’s important to create a culture where it is okay to be different. If employees can come into a team or company that encourages an inclusive atmosphere, it will draw more people to it. This requires leadership to set a positive example, and the rest of the company to follow that example.
If employees can come into a team or company that encourages an inclusive atmosphere, it will draw more people to it.Ronny Yoon
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered since joining the industry?
Throughout my career, I’ve found that one of the largest things holding me back was myself. I allowed myself to become comfortable doing what I was doing, instead of pushing myself to constantly improve. Once I started challenging myself to grow, I started to advance in ways I was looking for.
What do you think can be done to help encourage more people of colour to get into games?
Exposure is so important. Letting kids know that there are so many different possible career paths within games. I know that some schools are starting to bring developers in to talk to students, and I think that is a great start.
Is there anything that recruiters should be doing differently to address the lack of diversity across not only games development but all industries?
Something that I’d love to see more of is hiring managers working more closely with recruiters. Driving more communication and really defining what they are looking for on their team enables recruiters to look beyond just a job description to help find the real person for the job. All too often I hear about recruiters looking for specific qualifications in a candidate, but they never bring up the importance of finding the right personality for the role.
Since the recent surge in the #BlackLivesMatters campaign, what changes (if any) have you seen from across the industry to address the issue?
I’m noticing the industry is really beginning to look inward to see what they can do to help drive diversity. There are more conversations happening around the issues than ever before. Time will tell if those conversations lead to positive changes.
What advice do you have for other people of colour that are looking at getting into games?
To go for it. I have never worked with a more passionate group of people than I have found in this industry.