Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition, we talked to Melanie Zimmermann, Head of Marketing at Wooga. She explains how diverse teams greatly contribute to successful game development and shares insights based on more than 20 years of professional experience.
Read more about Melanie in this interview:

Hi Melanie! You’ve worked in a wide array of roles throughout your career, where did you feel most challenged?

Hi and thanks for having me! Working in the games industry and being a gamer myself, I like a bit of a challenge!
I see challenges as an opportunity to learn and level up. Of course it’s not always simple and easy, and flexibility and persistence are traits you will absolutely need, but in the end it is so worth it!

I think one big challenge for me was to realise that if you notice change is needed somewhere in your surroundings, you can’t wait for others to sort things out, but need to step up and be the change yourself. It calls for a certain amount of bravery, especially if the thing in question is outside your own comfort zone. This could be work-related, but also in any other area of your life.

I had two distinctive moments like this in my career;
One made me make the move from being an in-game Artist at Disney Interactive to Marketing; the other time I changed my role from being a Creative Director to becoming the Head of Marketing at Wooga, the Berlin-based game studio of Playtika.
Both times I identified areas that needed improving, proactively stepped out of my comfort zone to implement changes, and ultimately owned new areas of responsibility, which also changed my overall role.

Another topic that has challenged me in the past, and still sometimes does, is the question of “what to do next”. Especially when you find yourself in-between jobs, it’s a good moment to self-reflect and ask what you’re passionate about. There are so many opportunities out there, and it’s impossible to pursue them all. So knowing what drives you can be extremely helpful to make life-changing decisions.

Did your studies support and prepare you well for joining the world of games and tech?

The world of games and tech is constantly changing and evolving. You really must commit to being flexible and keep your passion for learning, if you want to prevail in our industry.

When I went to University, the digital landscape was a completely different thing from what it is now. I had a dialup modem to connect to the internet! There were no live concerts in online multiplayer games, no esports events being streamed on national television, and no women in their 60’s playing “June’s Journey” on their smartphones. There was no way I could have learnt the things I am doing in my day-to-day work now.

I still think there is great value in studying; my time at University equipped me with a mindset of problem-solving. From there I developed a powerful, widely transferable skill-set which I use all the time. If you know how to analyse and problem-solve things in your area of expertise, you can use this toolkit in all sorts of situations.

With this being said, certain hard-skills will be necessary for your future career development, so choosing an area of study that interests you is important.

In your opinion, how do companies benefit from more diversity within their game teams?

As a woman in the games industry I am particularly passionate about diverse teams and alternative leadership styles.

The games industry still has a reputation of being dominated by men. Luckily things are starting to change. We finally see more women and diverse people in the industry, and also on C-level we are moving away from the stereotypical “all white-middle-aged-men”-setup.

At Wooga, we changed our male to female ratio from 80/20 to 60/40 within the past five years. Our employees come from 50+ different countries, and we truly care about building an overall diverse and inclusive company culture.

This mindset shows in our games, as well in the way we do marketing.
To successfully create products and experiences that speak to a wider audience, you must get the perspective of differently thinking specialists together. Their unique expertise will enable things like smart storytelling with a diverse cast, the accessibility of your content, or how to market to different cultures. From my experience, it’s these discussions that drive the most interesting projects.
You could even go a step further and say there is no innovation to be expected from a group of people having the same way of thinking; or as I like to say, there is a high risk of being “like-minded, like-blinded”.

To sum it up, diverse teams will contribute greatly to the successful development and marketing of games for a diverse audience. And business goals aside, creating games with diverse casts will hopefully also help make a meaningful change in society.

Our latest game “Switchcraft” wants to do exactly this. It is a natural extension of its teams’ diversity and surely is one of the most diverse casual games out there.
It is a Match-3-game that combines puzzle-centered gameplay with a gripping narrative, and a unique graphic-novel art style. We are pretty proud of what we’ve created!

If you fancy giving “Switchcraft” a try yourself, click the link below to download the game:

Thanks for this interview, Melanie!

Melanie’s Links: Switchcraft DownloadWooga’s official websiteMelanie Zimmermann on LinkedIn

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Sophie Brugmann