Summer Series: AMAs Cover Women in Games Industry and Avoiding COVID Burnout
Written by Isabella Harford
Edited by Melissa May
Marc Anthony Rodriguez and Katie Powell spoke at separate AMA talks on Friday about their experiences within the games industry, with Powell saying there are “still not enough female role models in gaming.”
Powell, a Gameplay Programmer at codeSpark, and Rodriguez, co-Creator and Chief Operating Officer at VoxPox Games, spoke as part of EGD Collective’s Summer Series, which offers esports tournaments and talks with industry professionals.
Powell discussed the prejudices and obstacles she has faced as a woman within the games industry. Without disclosing the company, Powell recounted a guest speaker congratulating executives for hiring a woman on her first day of work, as if that was the sole reason she was hired.
“I wish I could see more female role models in the roles that I want to get into,” Powell said.
In another anecdote, Powell described receiving an email that was only sent to females within the company regarding their advice on a project. “It’s like tons of microaggressions, like that, that they’re like, ‘Yeah, we’ll just ask the women in the company and see if it’s okay.’ No,” she said.
Powell received her Bachelors of Science in Computer Science and Games from the University of Southern California. She began her career interning for several tech companies, most notably Disney Consumer Products, and has since held positions in game design, engineering and programming. At codeSpark, Powell is currently working on an award-winning coding platform for children, with users already creating over 10 millions games worldwide through the app.
In the second AMA, Rodriguez urged attendees to take five hours a week for themselves to enjoy nature and avoid “burn-out.” While gamers typically find comfort in games, industry employees are often forced to endure brutal hours, frequent lay-offs, and low wages. These obstacles make it difficult to find a stable job, even without COVID-19.
“Just unplug, turn your phone off, and do a walkabout,” Rodriquez said. Even during the peak of the pandemic in New York City, he continued to seek out nature-- just with a mask.
Rodriquez discussed the positives that have come out of the Coronavirus pandemic, saying the silver lining is that “we have more artistry and more games and more ways to consume entertainment than has ever been seen before.”
As the COO of VoxPop Games, a peer-to-peer independent game distribution and development platform, Rodriquez gave tangible advice on pitching ideas to publishers and distributors. “The easiest way is to make it your own,” he said. “Identify it, write it down into a simple sentence or simple explanation, and then bring that forth to people.”
Unlike other gaming platforms, VoxPop helps independent developers by allowing them to leverage a portion of their future revenue to users, which in turn benefits the developers’ marketing strategies and gives influencers another source of revenue.
“Our caveat and motto is ‘every voice matters,’” Rodriquez said. VoxPop is a play on words with the Latin phrase “Vox populi,” which means “voice of the people.”
Rodriguez completed his undergraduate education at SUNY Stony Brook before receiving his Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He has been involved in the creation, development, and marketing of several popular franchises, including Dead Rising, Devil May Cry, Grand Theft Auto, Resident Evil, and Red Dead Redemption.