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 Trailmix CEO and co-founder Carolin Krenzer, who began life in the financial services before joining EA-owned studio Playfish making a bigger name for herself at King, all leading to the formation of the Supercell-invested indie studio.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?
Carolin Krenzer: My focus is really to support our team with whatever is needed. This ranges from: testing the game, hiring, talking to current and future investors, giving input in whatever people need input in, diving into launch data, doing strategic planning, one-to-ones with team members and watching people play our game. It’s incredibly varied and lots of fun.
The whole concept was kind of crazy but I was intrigued, so I applied, got the job, moved to London, and never looked back.Carolin Krenzer
How did your journey into games begin and how did you progress into the role?
After university, I started out as a management consultant in the financial services industry. I didn't enjoy the work; the hours were brutal and the work environment was incredibly aggressive. I was pretty miserable and realised that I needed to get out of this but had no idea what I was actually good at.
As serendipity had it, I met a friend of a friend who told me that she worked as a product manager at Playfish in London, managing games that are being played on Facebook. The whole concept was kind of crazy but I was intrigued, so I applied, got the job, moved to London, and never looked back.
From here, I joined King in 2012 to help set up their London Studio and created (together with my now co-founder Tristan and many other amazing people) Farm Heroes Saga. Tristan and I left King after an incredible five years there to found our company, Trailmix.
Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?
If someone would have told me 14 years ago as a bright-eyed business school graduate that I would be making mobile games for a living, I would not have believed them. Also, I would have not have believed that I could find something that is so fulfilling and that I am so passionate about.
What did you study (if anything) to obtain your role?
I studied international business and the natural thing to do was to work as a management consultant or investment banker, which ultimately helped me to get a job at Playfish.
What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?
Having studied business makes a lot of sense for my role, and I can apply a lot of the fundamentals of my studies. However, even more important, were my countless internships, semesters abroad, and all kinds of randomly acquired work experiences.
I personally would never make a hiring decision based on what university someone went to or what they have studied. I am much more interested in how they have shown perseverance in achieving their goals. Career paths don’t have to be linear - they rarely are in games - so I am always curious to see how people find ways to obtain and apply their skills.
What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?
I get to spend every single day with the most talented, hardworking and kind team I can possibly imagine. It’s so great seeing them create something amazing together. Contributing to this dynamic and helping people with whatever they need is incredibly fulfilling.
What do you find are the most common misconceptions, public or professional, about women working in games?
As a head of studio or CEO in the games industry, it's not too rare to be the only woman in a room full of men.Carolin Krenzer
People still seem to be surprised by the fact that women actually make games and don't only work in auxiliary functions. The majority of people who play games nowadays are female so it shouldn't surprise anyone anymore that the team who makes the games should somewhat be representative of the audience.
Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?
The game industry can feel like a very exclusive club - everyone knows everyone, everyone has played the same games and seems to know what works and what doesn't... it can feel like your newbie opinions don't matter.
That said, the gaming industry is such a super fast-evolving space and knowledge from yesterday might not apply anymore. What we need is a fresh perspective and therefore your opinions count from day one.
Do you feel female characters are better represented in video games today, as opposed to when you entered the industry?
Things have been changing for the better but there still needs to be a bigger focus on better representation of all kinds of people across games. This has actually been a major focus for us with our first game, Love & Pies. We are hoping to positively contribute to the change.
Can you tell us about some of the biggest challenges you have encountered since joining the industry?
As the head of a studio or CEO in the games industry, it's not too rare to be the only woman in a room full of men. With this, it’s easy to get singled out or treated differently even though all you want is for people to just get over it and move on. It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to adapt to fit in.
Many years ago, I got the well-meaning advice to be a bit more aggressive and less worried about stepping on people's feet - just like the ‘alpha’ men around me. So I tried to behave like my male counterparts and it really didn't suit me well at all. When we founded Trailmix, I decided to stay true to myself and just do things differently. I think it has served us really well.
What more can be done to encourage more women to consider a career in games?
I actually put this question to some people on our team and they, like probably all of us, had heard this question many, many times before and had countless great suggestions on what we all could do to make the gaming industry a better place for women.
A lot of them ultimately come back to the fact that women want and need the same as everyone else - a workplace where they feel welcome, safe, valued and happy. This is really something every founder and/or leadership team should start making a reality now.
Any final bits of advice for women looking for a job in this profession?
Find a company that offers an environment in which you can feel safe and succeed and then blow people's minds.