Here at PocketGamer.biz we celebrate diversity of all kinds. Speaking to various inspiring women at our Pocket Gamer Connects events around the world, and being aware that there is still a real need to shout about the subject, we decided to focus on females for December. In this series of features we will interview various women working in gaming, as well as sharing other stories around the subject.
Patty Toledo is the Marketing Director at 4Players. Originally from Brazil, and now based in Ireland, Patty’s impressive career has spanned continents and industries. Working in the music industry for almost 30 years, she connected with acclaimed artists such as Iron Maiden, Metallica and Bon Jovi, before channelling her experience into wider entertainment. Finding her calling in the games industry, Patty worked at Steel Media, before taking over Game ON Mid Sweden throughout 2021. Patty is also an Ambassador for Women in Games and the Leader of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), Sweden.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your current role?
I am the Marketing Director at 4Players.io. 4Players is a company dedicated to creating safe and interactive, metaverse-ready, cross-platform experiences with our ultra-immersive voice chat tool, with full 3D spatial audio support, and our global server network. Additionally, I provide my services at great companies such as Playsense and Steel Media. I have been working in the creative industries for over 30 years now and have worked in several different countries.
What first attracted you to the gaming industry?
What really attracted me to work in games was the interactivity. I have always been fascinated with fandom and community, having experienced its power in the music industry. I liked the concept that games can create the same emotional reaction, while adding interactivity to the mix. I think we are still in the early stages of true interactivity and immersion, but the prospects of what we can do are really exciting.
What effect do you think the culture within which you grew up has had an influence on your career path?
The culture I grew up in was extremely traditional and ‘being different’ was not celebrated or nurtured. It has had a great influence on me, but not in the way people would imagine. By fighting against it all my life, and trying to be unconventional in every step I took, it shaped the choices in my career.
What challenges have you had to face during your career - thinking specifically about being a female in the industry?
Where I come from, my experience was that if you are a leader in your field, people often have the misconception that you gave sexual favours to achieve that power. People will bad mouth you all the way, trying to bring you down. Women are not seen as suitable leaders. This was not only a huge challenge, but it was the reason I decided to leave my home country for good.
In Europe this is less prominent, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen. So I have dedicated my life to building a solid career, despite being female and unconventional. This is one of the reasons I am proud to be an ambassador for Women In Games - to mentor women and break down barriers.
What advice would you give to companies looking to improve equality within the workplace?
It would be great if we could have hiring processes where the companies wouldn’t know the gender, race, or any other personal details until they decided on the candidate, so that hiring is based on skills and being the best fit for the team. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution that fixes that, but I think many companies are trying. I personally would hate to be hired simply for being a woman, to fill a diversity box. My gender doesn’t define who I am.
And what advice would you give to other women joining the industry?
I might have a more controversial point of view in this case, but my advice would be the following: strive to be the best that you can be. If you are an expert, the best at something, it will be harder to use your gender or appearance against you. If you do a great job, everybody will want to work with you.
A second piece of advice is: be helpful. Support others. I don’t mean ‘support other women’. I mean be helpful to everybody, as much as you can. I am a firm believer that supporting others, without expecting anything in return, is the best way to connect with other people in the industry and make the world a better place.
Who inspires you the most (not necessarily from within games)?
My mother. She started working at 18, as a single mother with no qualifications and worked her way up to becoming the Director of many companies and a fully-fledged economist, taking no nonsense from anybody. She is the person who taught me that hard work pays off.
Since you entered the games industry, what is the biggest change you’ve seen and is this for better or worse?
In the last few years, there has been a lot of discussion about diversity and inclusivity and dealing with harassment, etc. It is a really good thing that we are talking about it, but it means nothing unless there are real actions, consequences and changes.
I think it is bad that both companies and people end up being forced to act in a certain way out of fear of being criticized. That should not be the reasoning behind changes.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be and why?
I would make it easier to join the games industry, by creating clear entry paths for people with no previous experience. At the moment, even entry jobs require 2-3 years’ experience. Where are people expected to get this experience? We need to remove those barriers and make it easier to welcome and nurture anyone who is interested in working in games.
If you could only keep 3 games on your phone for the rest of time, which would you choose?
That is a very hard question. If I could never change them again, I would say Pokemon Go, PubG Mobile, and Hearthstone.