Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Hailey Austin, Research and Development Fellow for Transnational Creative Industries at Abertay University in Scotland. She explains how comics and games have similarities and how they are relevant for international collaborations. Read more about Hailey in this interview:
Hi Hailey! Where do comics, games, transmedia and research find common ground?

Hello! So, for me comics, games, transmedia and research have a lot in common! They are all different ways to get information and stories across to people. They do so in a really engaging and unique way that uses different parts of your brain. They are complex and aren’t “just one thing”. They blend into each other and that’s why I love them so much! 

Comics and games can be considered transmedia for other franchises or mediums, but by themselves they are intricate mixes of several other mediums that make a distinct THING. I didn’t read comics growing up, and I wasn’t allowed to play games as a kid, so I got into them much later than most people. That meant that I was fascinated by them and wanted to learn more. Fortunately for me, I have been able to be employed to learn more about them and put more of them out in the world! 

As such, my research involves not only looking into how all these things work, but also how they can be used for research purposes. So, I’ve published comics and helped people make games that are considered research, or a way to get information out to the public about something. Some of my comics are about archives, or I’ve helped make comics about transitioning from primary to secondary school. Comics, to me, are the coolest medium because they can be anything and everything. I made comics as part of my PhD thesis and just made a travelogue zine about a research trip I did in Sweden. These can all be found in my portfolio. I try to integrate all these things into my everyday life.

When did you release your first comic book?

My first comic came out in November 2019! I write for “Commando” comics at DC Thomson. They are long-running 63-page adventure war comics and they combine my love for research with writing stories. They are historical fiction, but based on reality. “Steel Inferno” was inspired by the Soham rail disaster where a fire ignited on an ammunition train and nearly blew up a whole town. I took this idea and gave it a twist, saying “What if it wasn’t a random explosion, but a planned attack?” and thus, “Steel Inferno” was born. I have published five Commando comics to date (with the 6th coming out later this year!). You can read them physically or online through comiXology.

How did you get involved with InGAME International and what are your duties there?

I did a PhD in comic books at the University of Dundee in Scotland. While I was finishing up, I was applying for every job under the sun related to comics, the English language, or anything like that. I was looking all over the world. And the post came up in Dundee for InGAME International, and I managed to convince them that comics and video games are similar. Luckily, they believed me and I’ve been doing research for them ever since. 

My main duties are on the UK/China project which is aiming to get the UK and China to like each other and make games together. This has been really hard during the covid-19 pandemic (I started during lockdown). We were supposed to travel to China and interview people there, but that hasn’t been possible. Instead, I’ve done 50 virtual interviews with people in the UK and Chinese games industries on the potential ways they could collaborate in the future and what is holding them back from collaborating now. I have also run two international conferences, published papers, and taught courses at Abertay about international creative industries and international game development. I also traveled to Sweden for 1 month to see what the UK can learn from the creative industries in Stockholm. That research will be available later this year.

Thanks for this interview, Hailey!

Hailey’s links: LinkedInTwitterPortfolioAbertay University

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Sophie Brugmann