You may not know me by name, but I’m sure you’ve played games that I’ve worked on. My name is Fiona Sperry and I’m the studio director at Criterion Games best known for the highly popular Burnout series of driving games.
I recently joined the WIGJ (Women in Games Jobs) Advisory Board and was asked to deliver a keynote on 'How to get to the top as a woman in gaming'. So on September 22nd 2011, I attended the first annual WIGJ Conference in London, England with over 150 attendees from the games industry throughout Europe, as well as a large number of students looking for advice.
During my keynote, I shared some advice with the audience which is relevant to men as it is to women. In particular, 1) do what you love – the most successful people in the world share one characteristic – they care more than anyone else. It’s hard to care about something you’re not passionate about and 2) do whatever job you do to the best of your abilities – every task, however menial it may appear, is a reflection of you and your standards. Attack every task with the same dedication and passion to do it well and other, more senior people will notice and respect you for it.
I strongly believe that you have to take responsibility for your own journey and work hard to achieve your goals. I joined Criterion Software Limited as the only woman in the development studio and as a producer who had never worked in games. Yet within three years I was running the studio, renamed ‘Criterion Games’ and to date it is amongst the most successful studios in the UK.Today I continue to run Criterion Games but have also recently been given the opportunity to run all the driving games within the EA Games Label.
I was inspired and energized by the women I met at the conference but I was mortified at how so many of the students felt they were facing an impossible challenge to get into the industry. Fortunately EA has made it a priority to increase its graduate employment by significant levels. EA also advocates increased diversity, be it the hiring of women or minorities as one of its key tenants when it comes to building the company. The world today is a very different place and we NEED new blood, different viewpoints, and diverse cultural backgrounds within the company to bring fresh thinking, new ideas, and perspective to ensure EA can remain competitive.
Happily there are more women in game development today but we still need to increase our numbers. I am more passionate, today than at any point in my career about helping women succeed in gaming. The message to women is clear – it’s important not to let being a woman in the games industry be an obstacle, but instead be what makes you valuable.
If you’re interested in working at EA and you’d like more information on positions available around the world, please check out EA's Jobs Site.