Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Gemma Johnson-Brown, Ambassador Director at Women in Games & COO at Dovetail Games. She speaks about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the games industry. Read more about Gemma in this interview:
Hi Gemma! What are your main responsibilities as a Women in Games Board Member?

My role is very varied and a volunteer position – as a co-director I assist with forming the strategic direction of the organisation and supporting our CEO Marie-Claire with Women in Games being a global non-profit global organisation. I lead the individual ambassador initiative, a network of people from around the world who are ambassadors of Women in Games. They speak to our mission in their areas, running events, in schools and workplaces, supporting the community and generally being positive influences and having an impact on the games industry. When I joined the board in 2016, we had around 60 ambassadors, today we are over 780. At the start of 2022, our ambassador coordinator, Mafalda Duarte, joined, and she now manages the day-to-day of the initiative.

I have found that in smaller organisations you tend to have many different responsibilities and tasks that are wide ranging, it can be very hands-on from moderating at the events to meeting with partners and sponsors. This is great for learning quickly and for those that have a can-do mindset. While the organisational structure is small in size (we have a small team of consultants, freelancers, and volunteers), we have big ambitions for the future.

How did you expand your skill set throughout your career at Dovetail Games?

I’m a naturally curious person and I like to learn. Whilst I wasn’t strongly academic at school and left school at 16 with reasonable grades, I enjoy learning about new things, how things work etc. Coming into the games industry, I wanted to know what the different roles were, how they worked and how they worked together.

Starting in HR gave me good reasons to speak to everyone. As a naturally introverted person, I know I need time to decompress after a lot of social interaction, so I would set up meet and greet meetings at the end of the week, where people also tended to be more relaxed. They were happy to then talk about what they worked on during the week. I sorted out opportunities and accepted them when they came my way, lots of quick learning, mistakes were made but I made sure I owned them and learnt from them.

In the games industry as a whole, where do you personally see general areas of improvement?

There are a couple of areas I can think of for improvement, generally inclusion as a whole needs to improve throughout, at all levels. The world we live in is so diverse, and ultimately we provide entertainment for the people who play and interact with the games we make. They are worldwide and will come from a variety of backgrounds. We have a great ability to impact positively, I don’t currently see a visible awareness of the social impact the industry has. Enabling ways in which we can hear and actively listen to a wider range of voices will improve our offerings as an industry.

I also think a focus and consideration through recruitment and career progression should be the person’s self-awareness, mindset and behaviours. I don’t believe people understand the impact their behaviours and what they say have (positively and negatively) in the workplace. There is a lot of focus and value given to experience, time within the industry or discipline, education and connections. When I interview people or when having career development conversations, I consider what they say, how they act and how they respond to situations. Being open minded, can-do attitude, and a focus on the positive and what is achievable whilst being pragmatic and realistic.

Thanks for this interview, Gemma!

Gemma’s links: LinkedInWomen in GamesDovetail Games

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Sophie Brugmann