Group Director of Marketing and Communications Christina Haralambous and Head of Inclusion and Belonging at Sumo Group Leon Killin speak to Women in Games about being a Corporate Ambassador, why it’s important the industry actively supports and advocates for women and underrepresented groups, and the key issues being faced today…
Women in Games’ purpose is to advance a fair, equal, empowering and safe environment for all girls and women, people of diverse gender identities as well as transgender, gender diverse and intersex women in the global gaming ecosystem. How does Sumo Group’s mission and values align with the goals of Women in Games, and why is it important to you to support the organisation?Leon Killin: “Sumo Group’s values of respect, innovation, determination, accountability, recognition and fun underpin our studios and businesses globally, and feed into everything that we do. We know that, in a turbulent industry and an ever-changing world, the changes we make today will lead to a brighter industry for all in the future. We aren’t perfect and there’s still lots to be done, but we’re working toward levelling the playing field and continue to upskill our people from underrepresented and marginalised genders as they navigate their games career. As part of this journey, we’re incredibly proud to support and learn from Women in Games.”
In what ways do you believe Women in Games helps to support women and girls in games and esports?
Christina Haralambous: “The Women in Games Manifesto is a fantastic call to action for everyone in the games industry to examine the current data for representation, and provides ways for us all to work towards change. Beyond this, Women in Games’ annual networking and careers events provide many touch points for people from underrepresented genders looking to get into games and esports to hear inspiring stories and connect with people in the industry to share insights and advice.”
In your opinion, what are the benefits of fostering a more inclusive environment for women in the games industry?
Leon Killin: “The more diverse voices you have working on a project, the more innovative and unique your game will be… games are for everyone and therefore should be made by diverse and representative groups. People produce their best work when they are living authentically and are happy in their environment, and as more businesses implement positive recruitment processes, inclusive working cultures and actively strive for both diverse teams and games, we’ll see more positive outcomes for both developer and players including increased productivity and quality, a broader range of products and a more diverse next generation of game dev talent.”
What do you think are the key issues facing women who are working in games and esports, and similarly the issues facing women and girls playing games?
Christina Haralambous: “There is still a high barrier for entry for women and girls looking to enter the games industry as they either aren’t given the same opportunities as their peers or are told that careers in tech, including games, aren’t ‘for them’. Fortunately, there are some amazing organisations doing work with young people to encourage more girls to choose careers in the sector and to help them find their spark for games.”
Leon Killin: “Toxicity within gaming communities towards marginalised people remains rife – whether you’re a developer from a marginalised group or a player, the hate found online is immeasurable. This belittling, harassing and patronising of women and marginalised genders can reinforce negative stereotypes that games ‘aren’t for girls’ and that they don’t have a place in this industry.”
Why do you think it’s important for companies like yours to actively support and advocate for women and other under-represented groups?
Christina Haralambous: “It’s hard to aspire to be what you can’t see. The games industry has, historically, been made of men which makes it difficult for women and marginalised genders to see themselves excelling in a career in games. Historically, schools and universities have pushed technology courses like Code to boys and companies required those qualifications to take on talent, with subsequent progression and succession being offered to those with the most experience. The industry is on a journey to break this cycle, but it’s going to take time. We’re proud to work with organisations like Women in Games and the Ahead Partnership to encourage women and girls to find their home in the games industry – these partners provide platforms for us to bolster the voices of our marginalised talent to create role models for young people, or those new to the industry, to aspire to. Internally, we run the Sumo Digital Academy – a talent development programme which creates pathways into the industry. Within the Academy, we have our Apprenticeship cohort which welcomes graduates, those from other careers and people skilled in different industries to take their first step into the games industry, and the Diversity Internship Training Programme which gives people from under-represented groups the opportunity to receive training and mentoring in game programming.”
Leon Killin: “Change starts at home. In 2021 Sumo Group launched its internal inclusion & belonging community, PRISM, which provides a safe, welcoming space for our marginalised people, where they can be supported by their community and have their voices heard. PRISM houses four main community streams – CHROMATIC (Underrepresented Ethnicities), IRIDIAN (LGBTQ+), ULTRAVIOLET (Underrepresented Genders) and WAVELENGTH (Ability & Wellbeing). Each stream has ‘Diversity Champions’ – dedicated, passionate and insightful change-makers who carry the feedback and concerns of their communities to Sumo leadership and advocate for meaningful, lasting change.
“Diversity Champions can be anyone from PRISM and each stream has a senior sponsor at director level to support and help amplify their voices.”
To find out more about the Women in Games Corporate Ambassador Programme, click here – https://www.womeningames.org/ambassadors/corporate/