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Speaker Spotlight: AuthorDigital CEO Serena Robar on chasing your dreams and working in a male-dominated industry

Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 will take place on May 13th to 14th
Speaker Spotlight: AuthorDigital CEO Serena Robar on chasing your dreams and working in a male-dominated industry
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Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 will take place on May 13th to 14th. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.

For more details on PGC Seattle and to book a ticket, head to the website here.

Today we're speaking to AuthorDigital CEO Serena Robar, who will be taking part in the 'Fantasy Games Pitching' panel.

Robar's career has focused on production and community management of online games for major licensed brands (Marvel, Star Wars, Pokemon and Minecraft).

She is a published author of five books with Simon & Schuster and Penguin, whose work has also been licensed for television and film. She boasts a fierce collection of Fluevog shoes, thinks of the Flamingo as her spirit animal and the very first game she played beginning to end was Duke Nukem 3D. Could you tell us a bit about the company?

Serena Robar: We are a narrative-focused games company featuring some pretty cool innovative tech who just closed a seed round. We are launching our first adventure comic on the Intellivision Console and hope to have more to share shortly.

What does your role entail?

I am a female CEO in the male-dominated video games field. Sometimes I feel like taking a bottle of wine into a closet and drinking in the dark, while other times I feel like I can take on the world. Either way, I am always wearing great shoes.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

I love world building and efficiency. A weird combination, to be sure, but I started my career in community building and moved into narrative design and production.

I love creativity and a well-thought-out road map. I think those two things will conquer the world if organised in intuitive project software. This statement alone is literally the reason I am never allowed to talk about my job at family reunions and birthday parties.

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

If there is anything else you ever thought you would be good at or like to do for a living - go do that. Seriously. This is a brutal, get laid off every other year sort of industry that can beat you down.

But, if you eat, drink and breathe games then there is no hope for you and I will welcome you with open arms because as tough as it is, the rewards for those who can weather the storms, are immense and create lasting relationships.

The industry is small, so behave and the friendships you will forge will last a lifetime.

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

I am not so sure about the last 12 months, but I have definitely seen a pendulum shift from three years ago.

Everyone wanted you to work with brands, no one wanted original IP, everyone wanted a fast follow and funding anything over one million seemed to be unheard of.

Now all I hear is: Do you have original IP? We don't do fast-follow and we want to fund much more than you are asking for. It's amazing. I've been doing this for 20-plus years and I am so happy to see publishers/investors taking chances and big swings.

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

We are seeing a ton of new initiatives from the major players this year. Google Stadia, Amazon Arcade, Xbox Game Pass (okay, that one is not so new), but that means we are seeing investors and publishers taking more chances on original content/gameplay to see what sticks.

It's an exciting time to be in game development. The market has shifted a great deal from three years ago so now is the time to be bold.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

Well, #MeToo has certainly shaken up the industry. Loving how 'woke' the next generation is. Sure, there are still issues and such, but as a whole the industry is moving in a positive direction on the diversity front.

Self-publishing is allowing smaller, niche developers to prove markets that the larger companies didn't believe existed. I love that. If I have to wait in line to use the women's bathroom at a conference, I high five everyone in line. That certainly wasn't the case when I started in this industry.

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

Connecting. Networking and learning new trends. I love to mentor and happily chat with newbie entrepreneurs to learn, guide and empathize.

A high tide raises all the boats and no one is getting out of this life alive. It's better to embrace and help, than tear down and sabotage. It's a small industry. We will all work together/meet again someday.

Find out more about Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 on the website.