Meet 100 of the most influential women working in the UK games industry - M - R
Games Partnership Director, NextGen Skills Academy
Having worked in the games industry since the PlayStation 1 era, Marcia Deakin says her career started out by accident when she was working with Sony Music. A call with a recruiter led her to the door of Eidos 20 years ago, and she has since worked with THQ and PlayStation Australia.
Currently, Marcia is working with Ubisoft and Rebellion on developing the first games-specific apprenticeship in digital community management, which will be completed this spring.
While she never intended to spend more than a few years in the industry, Deakin says the never-ending creativity and innovation has kept her here -- along with opportunities to travel the world and meet great people.
"My advice to women is that this is a great place to work and there are opportunities to be grabbed," Marcia says. "Enjoy your time, but be aware that some of the old stereotypes are still in play. However, most people are supportive and here to offer advice and guidance if needed."
CEO, Women in Games
Marie-Claire got started as an artist in video games, and had a particularly strong desire desire to understand and address gender inequality within the creative arts. She has done considerable work within the educational gaming sector, including research and practical workshops.
In 2016, she became CEO of Women in Games.
Her current projects include the InGame project in Dundee, a Women in Games project at South Thames College, chairing a panel at the French Institute's Women Shaping Games series, and an upcoming keynote speech as part of the Hackathon in the Museum.
"Connect with Women in Games and other third party organisations," she advises women looking to join the games industry. "This provides access to an experienced community that can offer bespoke advice and support.
"Engage with proactive recruitment agencies who will give advice on what jobs are out there and at what level. The best ones will also help with applications and CV's.
"Develop a clear personal career strategy; define what you are aiming for and what you need to get there. Network, attend events, and talk to people. Be determined, don't fall at the first hurdle, don't let rejection harm your confidence, keep focussed, keep sight of your dreams, be enthusiastic, professional, positive, and proactive, and you will achieve your desired goals."
Curator of Video Games, V&A and Co-founder, The Wild Rumpus
Following a career spanning jobs across film and literature -- including a producer role at Penguin Books -- Marie eventually became co-founder of independent game collective The Wild Rumpus in 2011.
It was these grassroots hobbyist origins which led to her practise as a curator.
Marie's biggest achievement to date is being lead curator of headline V&A exhibition "Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt."
However, her favourite memories are with the Rumpus family, specifically hosting a J.S.Joust tournament in the hull of an ex-Cold War fishing vessel.
Marie advises women looking to get into the games industry: "This feels like a strange time and industry for me to offer advice in, especially when I'm aware of the privileges I have which have helped afford me opportunities that others might not have been.
"I guess if there's one thing for now, I'd like to remind others that regardless of who you are or where you find yourself, that we are all worth so much more than our work or our outputs. This is something I forget myself sadly all too often.
"Be kind to yourself. Oh, and also, trust your gut."
Head of Communications, Frontier Developments
Marilena Papacosta says there were two starting points to her video game career. The first was experiencing games as a child.
"Gaming has always been one of my staple passions," she explains, "though I wouldn't have believed anyone who told me that one day I would be spending my days immersed in the creation and release of great games myself."
The second jumping-off point was playing Mass Effect 2, which reignited her desire to work in games. And that's exactly what she did, joining Koei Tecmo as EMEA PR and marketing manager. Soon, she was head of global marketing and communications for western regions, working on blockbuster brands like Nioh and Attack on Titan.
Today, she heads up communications at Elite Dangerous studio Frontier Developments. "Pretty good going even if I do say so myself."
The biggest lessons that Papacosta has learned during her time in the games industry is to stay engaged with what you are doing.
"Be passionate. Know your subject," she says.
"Persist. If it doesn't work the first time, ask for help, regroup, and try again. Don't shy away from a challenge. There's always another way to do what you set out to do. Oh, and if you can, be nice."
Writer and Narrative Designer
Following an internship with Six to Start and work with the BBC, Meg went freelance, eventually working as lead writer on Inkle's award-winning anti-colonial steampunk game 80 Days.
Since then, she has written DLC for This War of Mine and contributed to Falcon Age, Sunless Seas, Boyfriend Dungeon, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. In addition, she hosted the IGF awards at GDC 2019, and has previously written for The Guardian regarding women and video games.
Currently, she is working with Shedworks on coming-of-age title Sable.
"I don't think they (women in games) need my advice. They already know what they're doing, and what they want. I'm much more interested in talking about how we can better serve and retain women who are already in the industry. There are things we know we need to change to become more inclusive and welcoming on a structural and fundamental level," she says.
"That's on all of us, not on a particular group or minority. Actually, I do have some advice, after all. This is for everyone, not just women: join a union."
Programme Manager, BAFTA Games
Melissa has encouraged a lot of budding game developers over the years via the Young Game Designers and BAFTA Crew Games programme. Having "lived vicariously through each and every one of them," she is especially proud when she sees them going to university and launching their careers.
Since 2014, Melissa has been managing the Crew Games cohort -- a network for up and coming professionals to meet BAFTA Award winners and nominees -- and adores the sense of comradery between the members.
In addition, she was a patron at last year's Norwich Gaming Festival.
"My advice to any woman in any industry is to be a woman who actively supports other women. We are not always hardwired to do so; our school experience pitted us against one another and society in general encourages us to compete. Put that aside, because there is nothing more powerful than a woman who supports other women," comments Melissa.
"That's when things really begin to change. I surround myself with ladies (and allies) who empower me and, in turn, I want nothing more than to empower them. The sisterhood is absolutely real, but it takes time to find your tribe."
Chief Marketing Officer, Space Ape Games
Mickey Elimelech leads the marketing efforts of award-winning mobile games company Space Ape Games, creators of the hit strategy games Rival Kingdoms, Samurai Siege, and Transformers Art Wars. Formed in 2012, Space Ape boasts 120 employees and was acquired by Supercell in 2017, although it remains an operationally independent company.
Elimelech boasts almost 15 years of expert marketing experience, including 11 years at 888holdings, where she led several B2C business units to growth -- most notably the online marketing and bingo business units. Since being part of the Space Ape team, she has helped drive the studio's biggest games-as-a-service offerings.
Senior Technical Artist, Creative Assembly
Just five years ago, Mohrag Taylor joined Total War developer Creative Assembly as a trainee video effects artist fresh after graduating from Bournemouth University.
"After realising I adored maths and solving problems most of all, I moved to the Technical Art team, with [former technical art director] Jodie Azhar as my mentor," she says.
Since then, she has worked on projects including Total War: Warhammer and its 2017 sequel as the primary point of contact for the Technical Art team, in addition to supporting other projects too. Not bad as career starting points go!
Taylor feels that many women simply don't think they have what it takes to join the games industry -- something they might be sorely mistaken about.
"I've spoken to a lot of women who don't think they know enough or have the right skills to join the industry, and I was the same when I first started," she explains.
"However, a lot of the time you are more skilled than you give yourself credit for and you won't know unless you try. Talk to us, show us your work, and apply."
Associate Producer, Lucid Games
Nareice has worked for Lucid Games as an Associate Producer for the past year and a half, helping produce Switchblade, a 5v5 vehicle MOBA.
She also runs her own company in her spare time called Party Llama Games. The team of ten people is currently working on Pandora, an action-adventure episodic game based on the Greek myth of Pandora's box.
Nareice began her career in QA at PlayStation in Liverpool before working in numerous indie roles in an effort to gain experience in production.
"I started to realise that getting a job as a producer was difficult unless you've shipped a game," she says. "So I decided to make my own. When interviewing at Lucid, I showed a demo of the game I was working on and the processes I worked on with the project. Without Party Llama Games, I feel like I would have never gotten my job as an associate producer. So now I have my own studio whilst working alongside Lucid Games. I'm super lucky that Lucid doesn't mind this."
Nareice says her proudest achievement is receiving the Jerry Lawson grant from Xbox to attend GDC. She advises anyone looking to get into games to be true to who they are, and to work hard.
"The games industry is a hard place to crack into, but remember that it's one of the most rewarding disciplines out there," she says.
Co-Founder and Chief Development Ninja, Ninja Theory.
Nina began her video game career as a junior artist in the UK after moving to the country from Australia in 1996.
After working for Sony's Cambridge studio on titles such as MediEvil, Nina founded Just Add Monsters in 2000 with two other partners. In 2004, Just Add Monsters became Ninja Theory, with the newly rebranded studio's first title, Heavenly Sword, launching for PS3 in 2007. Published by Sony, Heavenly Sword set the foundation for Ninja Theory's future. It established the team that's today known for delivering beautiful worlds, cinematic character-led stories and visceral combat gameplay.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West followed in 2010 and was published by Bandai Namco, and DmC: Devil May Cry was published by Capcom in 2013. In 2015, Ninja Theory partnered with Disney to create Disney Infinity 3.0, crafting content with Star Wars, Marvel and Disney IP. In 2017, Ninja Theory made the step into self-publishing with the multi-award-winning Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. The game turned out to be a major success for the studio, and not just critically. Nina continues to lead Ninja Theory's ambitions today, and last year the team was acquired by Microsoft to become a first-party Xbox studio.
Co-Founder and COO, Revolution Software
Noirin Carmody is a 30-year industry veteran with extensive experience in publishing and development.
Noirin began as a member of the Policy and Planning team at the National Board for Science and Technology in Dublin, advising the government on strategic innovation in Irish Industry.
Following her move to the UK, Noirin joined Activision's corporate planning team. During her time there she launched the Sierra Online brand in Europe and was involved in setting up one of the first European Nintendo SNES contracts.
At Revolution, Noirin is responsible for strategic business affairs and commercially growing the company. In 1998, Noirin negotiated the company's buy-out from Virgin Interactive, who at the time held a 25% share in Revolution. She was determined to change the business model for Revolution, so in anticipation of the emerging digital technology market, Revolution decided to adopt a more flexible business model for developing product.
On top of her day job, Noirin is chair and an elected board member of the UK Interactive Entertainment Games Association (UKIE) and is a voting member of BAFTA. She has served on and chairs games juries for the BAFTA Games Committee, and holds a number of board and advisory committee roles unrelated to video games.
Studio Operations Manager, Hanger 13
"I was introduced to games when I was around six years old by my mum winning a SNES in a newspaper competition via postcard -- very popular in the ‘90s," says Rebecca Sampson. "My love of games picked up from there as I was fascinated by the narrative and visual spectacles that unravel whilst playing action-adventure games."
Rebecca studied computer animation at university, but decided her true strengths lay in logistics and relationship-building. Still determined to establish herself in the games industry, she looked into more administrative roles and found her big break at Disney's Blackrock Studios. When that studio closed, she moved to Creative Assembly and last year, the new Brighton studio for Hangar 13. Making herself instrumental in the running of these studios, Rebecca has no regrets about the career path she chose.
"I have come across a lot of hurdles along the way in my work and personal life, but have remained strong in the face of adversity," she says. "I'm always pushing my limits to reach greater heights and challenging my fears, constantly looking at ways to improve where I can help people and create a lasting impact."
Rebecca also plays a large role at the Brighton arm of Women in Games, setting up regular get-togethers and other initiatives to help improve the diversity of the local development scene.
Marketing Manager, Sumo Digital
When Rebecca Sweetmore first received a degree in media production, she hadn't realised the range of opportunities the games industry had to offer. When applying for roles at every digital media company in Sheffield, it was Distinctive Developments that took a chance on her.
"I was equally nervous and excited, because I had no prior experience in games, but I haven't looked back since," she says. "At Distinctive I gradually moved over to the marketing team because I found that's where my passion lay, and when a marketing position opened at Sumo Digital, I jumped at the chance."
She joined the Crackdown 3 developer three months before it launched its first self-published title, Snake Pass. At the time, the marketing team was comprised of only two people, so Rebecca had plenty of opportunity to make her mark and learn more about the world of games.
"Visiting worldwide events really opened my eyes to the potential that this industry has to offer," she says. "Being able to help shape and grow the fantastic marketing team we now have has also been a highlight."
When asked what advice she would give to women considering a job in games, Rebecca encourages confidence and to ignore the negative stereotypes and preconceptions surrounding the industry.
"In my experience the games industry is a very welcoming, friendly, exciting place to be," she says.
Rhianna Pratchett started out as a freelance games in journalist in 1998. She initially worked for Minx magazine before moving onto the late PC Zone, where she spent "several happy years being over excited about obscure games."
In 2002, she moved into development as a story editor for Larian Studios, and has worked in games narrative ever since.
Notable titles Rhianna has worked on include Heavenly Sword, Mirror's Edge, and Viking: Battle for Asgard. And, of course, Tomb Raider.
She has also authored games story tie-ins, such as Beyond Divinity's mini-novel Child of the Chaos, and the Mirror's Edge six-part miniseries with DC Comics.
Her favourite gaming achievements thus far include rebooting Lara Croft for Tomb Raider with Crystal Dynamics and writing the Overlord games -- which provided plentiful opportunities to "be evil to sheep, baby seals and hobbits."
She advises women looking to break into the industry: "In terms of writing, it would be to hone your craft -- write, rewrite, read a lot -- network, and play lots of games, focusing on how narrative is used.
"Particularly the techniques which are unique to the medium, such as using mechanics and level design as storytelling. Know your shit, and learn which battles are worth fighting and which need to be walked away from for your own sanity."
Serial Entrepreneur, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer, Bossa Studios
Best known today for her work at the hyper-creative London-based developer she helped found, Bossa Studios, Roberta Lucca's career started in Rio, Brazil, at commercial TV broadcaster Globo. Her journey to Bossa took her via Nokia as well as both the entertainment and video games scenes.
"Fast forward eight years, Bossa Studios has some of the most-loved video games in the world - brands like Surgeon Simulator and I Am Bread," Roberta enthuses.
"We're backed by renowned investors in games and tech (who also invested in the likes of Supercell and Unity) and have a team of 75 people based in London, developing and publishing bold genre-defining experiences to millions of gamers. And that's just the beginning of the positive impact I want to create in the world."
Roberta also says that the video games industry is the most welcoming industry that she has worked in to date.
"Having worked in the TV, tech, luxury, mobile, and fashion industries in my career, I can assure you the video games industry has been the most welcoming," she says.
"People who I have met since I started Bossa have been always open to sharing knowledge, experiences and connections.
"It is a sad reality we have not reached gender equality in the majority of studios out there. I truly believe men and women together can change this with intentional leadership and consistent small yet disruptive actions on our day-to-day. Recently, I did a speech and made a video for my YouTube channel (Beta Lucca) on this very subject - how Bossa is taking action and we can all be better at welcoming more women into the industry.
"If you are a woman with fabulous code, art, product, or marketing skills, love games, and want to create the next generation of incredible gaming experiences, go and apply to jobs in the industry - even if you feel you only have 50% of what's required. Because, according to research, men do it when they fit just 30% of the role."
Rosemary is a popular industry senior marketing veteran with over 17 years of experience holding key positions at Eidos, Novologic, Warner Bros, Sony PlayStation and Curve Digital. She has worked on a number of ground-breaking software and hardware campaigns including Batman: Arkham City, PlayStation 4, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and Human: Fall Flat.
As well as her award-winning campaigns, Rosemary is a winner herself of the MCV Special Recognition award.
"It was a surreal evening highlighted with a standing ovation," she recalls. "And Mr. Gilbert from The Inbetweeners gifting the award whilst whispering ‘well done, Rose'."
She offers this advice to anyone looking to pursue their own career in the business.
"Try your best to secure industry work experience that provide opportunities to develop your skills and master your craft; Into Games is a great non-profit organisation that specialises in this area really well.
"The games industry is so much fun and I feel privileged to be part of it for so long, but there is also a lot of hard work involved. Contrary to popular belief, it is a proper job, you can build a career, and we don't just play games all day."
Brand Designer, Chucklefish
Rosie started out by making an iOS game for the Dare to be Digital competition with a team of other students in 2011. Their game went on to win the competition and its associated BAFTA Games Ones to Watch category.
Afterwards, Rosie was offered her "big break" -- a job at Disney Interactive in London. She spent three years at the firm, moving from creative intern to designer and eventually game producer.
In 2014, she met members of the Chucklefish team by chance at a non-industry event and "just clicked."
"At Chucklefish I'm hugely fortunate to have had the chance to get involved with all aspects of game making and I've really fallen in love with the visual side of marketing games. The experience of trying to express all the great things that you know about a game to someone else in just one image is such a fulfilling challenge to me," says Rosie.
"Here, I'm surrounded by an extraordinarily creative team that is made up of 50% women, getting to share our own passion projects with the world. I love where I am right now."
Rosie advises women looking to break into the industry to "make the things you want to see exist, share your creations," and meet people -- online or offline.
Business Development Administrator, Games London
Roz Tuplin is recognisable to anyone working in and around the London games business, since joining Games London in 2015. There, she has been instrumental in orchestrating four London Games Festivals so far.
"For me the biggest satisfaction comes when I meet people who have taken part in our initiatives, some of them from the very beginning, whose businesses are really thriving now," she says.
"I want to give visibility to great talent and help people make a career out of their creativity. The role I've played in growing the London Games Festival makes me really proud too. It's gone from a successful experiment to an established international showcase for games business and culture in the UK. The results are tangible – I like a tangible result."
Asked for her top tips for women looking to enter the games industry, Roz says you need to have faith in yourself.
"This is a great industry to work in because everything is changing all the time, so jump in and trust your instincts," she explains.
"If you think there is a better way of doing things or you're uncomfortable with how business is being done, remember that your perspective is invaluable. Have fun, know yourself, and when you've settled in for a while, be there for younger women entering the industry and make sure they feel welcome too."
Head of Division, Abertay University
15 years ago, Ruth Falconer was a PhD student frustrated with the lack of flexible visualisation software for the complex simulations she was running. This led her to develop an interest in visualisation and graphics, which led her to end up teaching computer graphics in what she describes as a "pragmatic, 'hands-on' fashion."
Ruth's career has not been limited to research and education, either. She was recently appointed as an executive board member for Women in Games in order to ensure there is equal opportunity and treatment for those entering the games industry. Her passion for both equality and education has also resulted in her working to increase gender diversity on the games programming and tech courses at Abertay University first, then throughout the UK as a whole.
"I like helping students and colleagues, and when this works out well it provides a tremendous level of satisfaction," she says..
"On a personal level I enjoy learning new techniques and technologies, both software and hardware, and how they can be employed for entertainment and more serious purposes. I am just back from a conference and am excited to see how emerging technology can underpin the production of creative, immersive, and progressive games. Mastering something new and applying your knowledge and skill creatively to solve problems is a great kick, as I'm sure most game developers would agree."