Speaker Spotlight: "I see a bright future ahead for virtual conferences," says Mowhawk Games CEO Leyla Johnson

PGC Digital #5 kicks off on February 8th

Speaker Spotlight: "I see a bright future ahead for virtual conferences," says Mowhawk Games CEO Leyla Johnson

Pocket Gamer Connects Digital is back for 2021, set to bring together some of the finest voices in the games industry and beyond.

PGC Digital #5 takes place on February 8th - 12th. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.

The conference spans across five days and will feature a broad selection of tracks, talks and speakers, as well as various fringe events and the return of our meeting system. For more details on PGC Digital and to book a ticket, head to the website.

Today's spotlight is on Leyla Johnson, CEO of Mowhawk Games, a small indie studio based in Washington DC. As well as serving as company CEO, Johnson is head writer and art-director of 2D art. She's also a seasoned radio host and a proud history enthusiast. At PGC Digital #5, she'll be sharing her insight on designing and creating historical strategy titles. Tell us a bit about your company?

Leyla Johnson: Mohawk Games is a small indie studio in the suburbs of Washington DC. It is made up of 8 people but we have acquired great talents with the team we contracted as well. Mohawk was founded in 2013, and we have shipped a previous title Offworld Trading Company (also a PC strategy game).

What does your role entail?

I am the head writer for the game, and that is basically narrative design, I am the 2D art director, project lead (making sure all disciplines communicate properly and that the project is meeting deadlines and goals, facilitating communication and smoothing over hurdles or potential bumps).

I serve as the CEO and that is not the cool creative stuff that I prefer doing, but at least I am managing a team I care deeply about and hopefully will continue to work within making games I am absolutely passionate about.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

The games industry is the perfect creative outlet for my background, education, and both, life and work experiences. I am a geek at heart and I love applying my geekiness to something that translates into our game Old World.

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

I am not sure I can give one specific general piece of advice, but perhaps if I were to say anything meaningful it would be "don't let people shut you out of the industry, try a different studio if this is the feedback you are getting, the perspective might change and where a window shuts in your face a door might open somewhere else".

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

We are amazing as an industry at working remotely, and that came in handy when other industries struggled under the weight of the pandemic. I feel that the games industry helped a lot because we knew how to navigate the challenges of operating remotely. Other industries are looking at us for guidance and that is major.

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

More diverse international teams. The creation of weird pandemic themed games. I see a bright future ahead for virtual conferences on more focused subjects.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

Well, It is kinder in general and people keep getting more creative. I hope that WOC, like myself, keep paving the way for other marginalised groups, and I can see that this is already happening. 

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

All the various talks. I like having people from the industry and around the world talking about their games or their experiences. It is educational and motivational. 

Want more?

The full conference schedule will be live very soon. In the meantime, you can also check out our other track rundowns and coverage of previous Pocket Gamer Connects conferences ahead of the event itself.

Register for Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #5 today!