What made you decide to go into video games industry? How does your education and work experience fit with your transition?
I've been captivated by video games since a young age, but my interest in the industry from a career perspective began in college. There I was able to participate in a professor-led student cohort that developed alternative digital and transmedia gaming to help educate local youth. That experience taught me gaming can have a variety of meaningful applications, and I've spent the few years since building software development and business management skills in the hopes of executing on those opportunities.
Why are you pursuing your MBA and how do you think it will help you in the gaming industry?
Since my goals within the gaming industry are entrepreneurial, I believe an MBA will better prepare me to create and manage a successful game development business. Additionally, as someone new to the industry, there are countless relevant networking and relationship-building opportunities in business school I plan to take advantage of.
What do you think are some upcoming trends in gaming?
From an entertainment perspective, virtual reality gaming is clearly becoming a more and more popular alternative. Though still far from dominating today's gaming scene, I have little doubt that in the next few decades this will become the case as the technology improves. I'm really excited to see what those games look like!
What's an area you think the gaming industry can get better at?
This may be an unpopular response from a gamer perspective, but I think there are a lot of missed monetization opportunities within gaming today. While DLC's and similar mediums are being better used to generate additional revenue, gamers primarily see individual games as closed-loop experiences, where the next dollar spent will be on a new game rather than on the same content. Changing this perspective and increasing gamer purchase frequency will be a great thing for the industry.
Please tell me a few games that have had an impact on your life and in what areas?
This is a really difficult question for me to answer, just because so many games have had serious impacts on both my life and my viewpoints. I'll call out JRPGs (Japanese role-playing games) in general, because playing these at a younger age gave me important exposure to a language, culture, and lifestyle that I otherwise wouldn't have had.
More recently, The Last Guardian absolutely blew me away and I think it is an excellent example of how games can encourage positive, growth-oriented emotionalism in people - in a way that other mediums can't (you, the player, essentially can't help but empathize and care about this giant bird-dog thing you are adventuring with, despite it initially trying to eat you).
What are your thoughts about diversity and representation within the game industry and games themselves?
I believe that unfortunately both the game industry and the games it produces still have a long way to go when it comes to issues of diversity, like most facets of modern society. Male, white protagonists in video games are still overwhelmingly the norm, regardless of the diverse environments and situations in which games are set. It's not surprising that actual gaming workplaces are similarly dominated by such demographics.
On the other hand, progress is definitely being made in the field. Horizon Zero Dawn blew everyone away this year, not because it had a female lead, but because it was an amazing game that also had a dynamic, unique, and authentic female lead. I'm looking forward to the increased normalization of such games and plan to support them as much as I can. Because when you think about how much time we sink into gaming, it seems clear that the way we represent people in these games is critically important.
What are your future goals in the game industry?
Post graduate school I plan to pivot from e-commerce strategic consulting into product management within the gaming industry. Long-term, I aspire to start my own video game development and research firm. Specifically, I am interested in developing and promoting alternative application gaming within fields like psychology and medicine - for example, building games that help people with depression or social anxiety. I also believe there are many untapped opportunities to leverage existing gaming communities - that sometimes number in the millions - to better understand (and perhaps influence) human behavior.
What game(s) are you looking forward to playing?
I am really, really, really excited about the newest God of War. I am interested in how a game series historically so steeped in vengeance and violence (have you seen some of its boss battles?) will approach concepts like mentorship and fatherhood. My fingers are crossed that they will have a really cool perspective on those topics.