As part of our extended International Women's Day coverage, PocketGamer.biz is spotlighting talented women from the games industry throughout the week and beyond.
Infinite Arcade product core contributor, Ekin Eris, speaks to PocketGamer.biz about the increase in women in Turkey looking to join the games industry, combating toxic cultures through remote and hybrid working, and creating a greater appreciation for diverse skillsets.
Can you tell me about your role as Product Core Contributor at Infinite Arcade, and what it entails?
As a product manager, I’m leading efforts related to the economy of the Infinite Arcade ecosystem. Our team is focused on building a sustainable play-and-earn economy for our player and creator community. It’s mainly the economy design, discovery and planning for the time being. Since the economy is at the core of the offering, I’m working alongside our marketing and business development teams to ensure we provide concise information across all our communication channels.
I personally can’t wait for the games to go live, with the token launch coming soon in May, so we can get to see Infinite Arcade in action.
Your background includes a BS in Biological and Chemical Engineering. What made you decide to pivot to the games industry?
The games industry was booming when everything else was collapsingEkin Eris
I decided to not pursue a career in my field of study before my graduation. I got my Master’s degree in International Management and I focused specifically on business strategy and marketing. My first job was working in a performance marketing team of a global agency. In my opinion, agencies are great places to start your career. You get to work with customers in various industries and gain exposure to all areas of the digital marketing world quite quickly and intensely.
Then, I got into travel AdTech. As you can imagine, the early days of the pandemic were extremely challenging and, unfortunately, the company had to shut down soon after. Luckily though, I and a couple of colleagues were introduced to Coda and its leadership team. At the time, the games industry was booming when everything else was collapsing, and Coda was looking to expand its growth and tech teams. So, it was a perfect match. That’s how I started in the gaming industry, and I’ve been actively working alongside extremely talented individuals for almost two years now.
Women are one of mobile gaming's fundamental player bases, yet there remains an absence of women in the games industry. What should the industry be doing to encourage more women to join?
I see women already in the gaming industry, including myself, as the core community who have the will and the power to make this change. We need to be actively creating opportunities for young individuals to step into our industry.
The biggest news and announcements around the mobile gaming market speaks to the existing community. This is true for many businesses, in my opinion. I think it’s important for us to reach beyond our current audience and get the attention of people who are looking for new areas of work. Taking into account the working conditions and compensation packages, gaming companies – especially start-ups – present a good offer for candidates. Overall, it’s about exposure and creating awareness for the different skill sets needed for jobs in gaming.
People should start by accepting that there is a toxic culture and be willing to invest in making a changeEkin Eris
Working conditions in the games industry, such as reports of sexual abuse and harassment at Activision Blizzard, has rightly come under a critical lens. What do you make of declarations from the industry's largest companies on combating workplace sexism in the future?
This news is devastating to read, but it’s a reality that we, unfortunately, have to face. I’m lucky to work in an environment where I feel appreciated, welcomed, and most importantly, respected.
I personally don’t believe that having certain mechanisms or rules in place would change the culture of a big company. People should start by accepting that there is a toxic culture and be willing to invest in making a change. It is a long process, though - things won’t change overnight.
Fortunately, most companies are adopting remote or hybrid working. The new conditions at least give employees the choice to not participate in certain events if they don’t want to, and interactions are limited to online meetings. Of course, this doesn’t justify the mindset and the toxic culture overall.
Earlier this week, we spoke with your compatriot, Gökçe Nur Oguz. Is the Turkish games industry more developed when it comes to supporting women, or does there remain a lot of learning?
I agree that the Turkish gaming industry provides a welcoming environment for women. I’ve had the opportunity to work with incredibly talented women over the years. Compared to traditional businesses, the gaming scene in Turkey is more developed in gender equality.
However, I think we can do better. There are still not enough women in leadership positions. But I’m confident that young women stepping into the industry will make their way up in the coming years. Finally, I think we can attract talent from other businesses, especially from digital industries.
Have you seen a heightened interest from women in Turkey to join the games industry?
Absolutely. All my friends want to join this industry. Initially, they didn’t get why I joined gaming. These people have been in management positions in other companies for years. But the opportunity is huge and growing at a high rate mainly due to the Web3 paradigm and the new areas of work it brings. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our generation to jump onto this bandwagon early on.
What advice do you wish you were given when you joined the games industry, and how much has that advice changed (if at all) if a young woman approached you for advice?
Advertising rules are becoming extensive and increasingly protect the usersEkin Eris
The advice I wish I was given when I joined the industry is specific to advertising, and mostly casual gaming in particular, but it would be: 'You’re entering into a world where user acquisition is key and almost everything is acceptable when it comes to advertising games. In order to achieve cheaper costs, you need to lure users in with various ads and trigger an emotional response. Unlearn all the rules you previously accepted by heart prior when it comes to advertising. Focus on the strategies that allow you to work around the algorithms and achieve scale quickly.'
It’s what I struggled with accepting in the first year. I think right now, we’re in a better position. Advertising rules are becoming extensive and increasingly protect the users. People are more aware of the effect of ads and are not as easily “tricked” as before. Algorithms of channels rely more on long-term goals rather than low-level intent. This pushes studios and publishers to build better content and provide a seamless experience between ads and games.
The advice I’d give to a young woman who wants to join the industry now is: 'Do your research. Get to know the leadership teams of the companies you’re applying to, and understand their experience and values. Think about whether they’re aligned with your values or not. During the interview process, ask to meet with the team you’ll be working with closely, and ask them about company culture and working conditions.'