What’s Up Gameress buds! In this post I got the amazing opportunity to sit down with Lauren Walton, a righteous gamer that’s making her way through the gaming industry! Lauren has experience working in Quality Assurance in game development, a very important field that ensures you get the best bug-free releases. Lauren has worked for big studios such as Sony Playstation and smaller studios like Lucid Games Ltd where she resides now. Well let’s just jump into the juicy stuff, shall we!
What activities and groups would you recommend women to get into if they want a career in game development?
“I personally sought out any groups catered towards gaming where possible. Throughout the years, I have joined various gaming groups on Facebook, subreddits on Reddit, and societies held at my University. Not only did I learn a lot about games during my time in these groups but also about the users and what is essential for their user experience – just by getting to know them and seeing their posts! Two specific groups I would highly recommend on Facebook are Women Gamers and Women in Games WIGJ. As well as this, LinkedIn is always a fantastic place full of resources from other individuals in the industry – following a few professionals here would not go amiss!”
I know everyone hates the “where do you think you’ll be in 5 years” question, so Instead what is a major goal you want to accomplish as a professional in the industry?
“This is a difficult question as there are so many options within the industry, and obtainable ones at that. Initially my interest was set on becoming a 3D artist within the gaming industry, but upon beginning work as a Functionality Tester for PlayStation I was shown just how important QA work is in this field and the opportunities available within it. I now have my sights set on a Production role down the line – but who knows!”
What was the biggest hurdle to overcome when breaking into the industry, whether at Playstation or switching to an Indie Studio?
“I guess it was just difficult to get the feeling that ‘I belong’. Despite having a lot of knowledge of gaming, a passion for it, and a degree in it, I always second guessed myself. But once you enter the industry you realise just how much in common you have with other gaming professionals and you realise that you absolutely are capable of working here! It really is just all about taking that first step.”
This is a hard one! What were your two favorite childhood games and why?
“I loved EverQuest 2, a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game. I must have been about 9 years old and I spent the majority of the time increasing my cooking and tailoring skills – because what better than to serve cookies and wear fancy clothes on a game based around exploration and combat! As well as this, I loved Shenmue 1 & 2 – pretty much for the vending machines and in-game capsule toy collectibles! Can’t say I was ever good at real objectives as a child haha.”
What is the most important thing you learned from working with a team of developers?
“Every opinion matters! I was always so nervous to put ideas forward, but working with a team of developers has massively changed my outlook – they are always so wonderful and kind and willing to see from your perspective. I was able to give my input on games and changes were made to the game regarding this – I felt really valued. However, it also means you should expect to see a confused developer at your desk seconds after you have submitted a high priority bug – that’s always fun! :P”
What are some differences you found going from working with Playstation to an Indie studio?
“Similarly to the above, having a close relationship with the developers changed everything – you didn’t always get this as QA in PlayStation. There is also no sense of managerial positions in an Indie studio, everybody sits together, everybody works together. I sat next to one of the Founders of the studio like it was no big deal – there was no separation. Following this, I also want to commend the studio (Lucid Games Ltd) on their method of publishing Credits, which does not use a hierarchy system in order to put others first, and instead cycles through ALL levels of staff in the studio in alphabetical order.”
In your opinion what is the hardest area of game development for those who work in it, and why?
“Truthfully it probably is hardest for those in managerial positions. Game studios are a very relaxed and wonderful place to be. We often have office celebrations, cake every Friday, foosball tournaments, poker nights – and fun conversations all throughout the day. But there does come a time when deadlines need to be met and workflow needs to be streamlined – it can be difficult for managers to ensure that as much work is happening alongside fun! Nobody wants to ‘be that guy’ and so I really respect those who keep us all in check as it is a difficult position to be in when we’re all about fun.”
What are you playing these days?
“Oh so many things! I have recently finished A Plague Tale: Innocence which is brilliant. I have also been playing through Spyro Reignited in order to get all platinum trophies!”
Well that’s it! This was a wonderful interview. I tried to ask questions that many of us wondered about the gaming industry work environment and I also wanted to get to know Lauren a little! Let us know what questions you have about working in the gaming industry!