Kate Edwards is the Executive Director of the Global Game Jam, as well as the CEO and principal consultant of Geogrify, a consultancy which pioneered content culturalization.
Edwards will be joining us as part of Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #2, the second of our new digital conferences with all the usual great talks and sessions of a regular Connects delivered straight to your office.
Ahead of the show, we spoke to Edwards about her thoughts on the games industry over the last 12 months, and how she thinks the industry will be impacted in the coming months.
PocketGamer.biz: Tell us about about Geogrify and the Global Game Jam.
Kate Edwards: Geogrify is a consultancy that focuses on content culturalization, which is adapting content for various cultures and geopolitical considerations, towards the goal of maximizing the reach of the content (games, etc.)
The Global Game Jam is a nonprofit organization that organizes the world's largest game creation event. The GGJ celebrates creativity, innovation, and the potential of any individual to learn game development. In 2020, the event held 31 Jan to 2 Feb had over 48,000 participants at 934 sites in 118 countries, resulting in over 9,600 games created!
What does your role entail?
As CEO and Principal Consultant of Geogrify, I manage the business and act as the primary subject matter expert conducting the culturalization consulting.
As Executive Director of the Global Game Jam, I'm responsible for carrying out the mission of the org, fundraising, and organizing the host of events and activities we conduct annually.
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
I started working in the game industry during my time at Microsoft, where I established the "Geopolitical Strategy" team to help the company manage geopolitical and cultural risks across all products and locales, which included all the video games. I hadn't really intended to work in games, but I quickly found that doing my culturalization work on games was the ideal job for me (I've been a lifelong game player).
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?
Don't expect to get your perfect job right from the start. Your interests may likely change over time, so when starting out, strive to get a good entry level role in which you can demonstrate your commitment and skills. But be flexible and resourceful; it's quite possible your perfect job will be the one you eventually create for yourself.
What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?
The last 12 months have seen the game industry come to grips with an ever changing landscape of platforms and fickle users.
While core franchises forge ahead and strive to remain relevant (some by adapting themselves to the game play de jure), we continue to see really innovative work in the indie game space - which arguably has been the leading creative force in games for the past several years (as far as game design).
While may continue to predict the end of consoles, the big three persist in their determination to maintain that model, but it will eventually have to bend. And on the organizational front, we're starting to see that organizations like the ESA, IGDA, etc. which were spawned in the 1990's might be fighting for their relevance in a very different world today.
What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?
Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the entire world, and has likewise exposed the crucial role that games play in people's lives. It's telling that the WHO - who set up a "gaming disorder" classification then turns around during the pandemic and praises video games as a valid coping mechanism for isolation.
Like every other industry, games will try to find some path back to normality after the pandemic, as far as industry events, e-sports, etc. But at its core, I think there are a lot of great lessons for the industry to learn about remote work, and our ability to still be productive during times of social disruption.
So we could see a new level of efficiency and productivity introduced into the game development cycles that wasn't there before.
How has the games industry changed since you first started?
As I started in 1993, it has certainly become far more diverse than it was, but we still have a long way to go. Games as a cultural artifact have also increase in visibility, but there too we have a ways to go to achieve a level of cultural acceptance on par with literature, film, etc.
And while detrimental practices at companies, like crunch, have slowly improved, we still see too many examples of companies treating their talent like nameless cogs in a machine. This needs to change.
Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?
As always, it's being able to network with individuals - even if online - because the industry is people, not a machine. So any chance to interact, share, and compare notes is invaluable.