Women in Games Sydney Mixer 2009

As you probably know, I love games. I mean, that’s why I write for Gameolio; I’m sharing my love of video games! My dream job is to get into the game development industry. Right now I’m a student, studying multimedia to somehow get me my dream job; actually I have a few weeks left until I graduate. So, the other day someone asked me ‘how are you going to get into the whole video game industry anyway?’

I paused.


This poor near-graduate female was pretty clueless as to how to get her foot in the door of her initial job. But hey, I wasn’t the only one! A few of my classmates had exactly the same conundrum. Luckily though, one of the girls stumbled on some information about a special mixer – The Women in Games 2009 mixer, held at the new Sydney campus of the Academy of Interactive Entertainment!

It’s a casual event focused on promoting women in the games industry. Although there are about the same amount of female gamers as males in Australia, there is a only a really small percentage (like 10-20%) of Aussie female game developers, but apparently it’s a much bigger percentage than that overseas.

So my friend Esther and I RSVP’d and on Thursday (17th) we were off to the AIE Sydney campus. Now, the two of us had read the part of the event description saying there would be opportunities to network. We weren’t sure what to expect – although while we were picking up our name tags at the front desk that was set up, we couldn’t help but notice a few company names on some tags like ‘Sony Computer Entertainment’, ‘Gamespot AU’ and ‘Team Bondi’… Our excitement meter jumped up a couple levels.

Continuing on from warm greetings at the front desk, we met lovely volunteers from the event who were students and some lecturers from the AIE. They gave us the run-down of some events – there was a lucky draw for some Playstation and Xbox games and various collectables as well a game competition to win a copy of Autodesk Mudbox (3D scuplturing/ texturing program) and another for the grand prize of a brand new PS3!!

As Esther is an avid 3D artist, I found myself singing as well as I possibly could on Singstar to get the high score and win that copy of Mudbox for her (I was threatened – repeatedly!! T3T). After I could sing no more I left her to sing with other contestants – I just wasn’t cut out for it!

I’ll just say right now, that I have no idea how to network. I have no finesse when it comes to talking to people, so I feel extremely lucky to talk to some of the people I did at the mixer because I would have never been able to otherwise.

I met Rebecca Benjamin who worked for Sony Computer Entertainment, managing the online services for the Australian website. She was very enthusiastic when it came to answering the questions I had for her and very encouraging when I mentioned I was thinking of writing an article for Gameolio. Rebecca also shared the details of her work and different career options within the games industry which gave me a couple of pathway ideas.

After parting ways with Rebecca, I encountered the series producer of Good Game, Janet Carr. Good Game is a TV program on ABC1 and ABC2 which covers game reviews, news, hardware tips and generally anything about video games. Janet shared with me the details of how the show started with a small budget in 2006 and now has over a hundred episodes and still going strong! It was all very inspiring to me and after thanking Janet for her time, I moved on to mingle with some other people.

Wondering who to speak to next, I sat down to speak with a lovely woman who I found was actually Vicki de Margheriti, the CEO of the Academy of Interactive Entertainment. She engaged me with the story of how the school (founded by her husband John de Margheriti of the Australian interactive entertainment company Micro Forté) started with just a handful of students and is now regarded as having played a huge part in the development of Australia’s games industry and has campus’ in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. When I mentioned my interest of becoming a concept artist for games, she happily pointed out the two ladies who were from the company Team Bondi.

At this point I grabbed Esther (who was trying to win the copy of Mudbox) to come with me to speak to the ladies of Team Bondi, Leena Ganguli and Amy Gallan. It was a great opportunity for the both of us to ask how they were hired and they were more than happy to give us advice on how to approach companies and what they expect and how to impress them. It was exactly the kind of advice we were looking for!

Unfortunately the night was drawing to a close as the winners of the competition were announced. To my surprise I won a copy of the Bioshock Artbook from the lucky draw, woo!! Unfortunately we didn’t win anything else, but congrats to the girls that did win something.

Overall the Women in Games mixer was exactly what Esther and I needed – it was a break from our massive pile of uni assignments and we got some great advice on how to approach the industry after we graduate. Thanks to all those we spoke to, including everyone helping out from the AIE.

To any of the Aussie girls out there who are interested in the game development industry, you should seriously check out the AIE and the Women in Games mixers!

(Thanks to the people at the AIE for providing the photos and letting me use them)

Academy of Interactive Entertainment

Women in Games


About the Author

I'm just your regular gamer! Currently working in the game industry as an artist. I love all manner of things cute, colourful and crazy. I also love lemons quite a lot. c: