Some of our amazing VGAs discuss their experiences being part of the scheme
At this year’s EGX, Ukie co-ordinated a games industry careers genius bar in the GI fair. More than 30 video game ambassadors (VGAs) volunteered across the four days of the show giving a series of workshops, panels, talks and C.V/Portfolio sessions to help inspire the next generation of video game talent. We caught up with James Schall, Joanna Orland and Caitlin Goodale after their genius bar sessions to hear about their experiences being a video game ambassador.
Ukie: What made you become a VGA?
James Schall: I wanted to share my story with kids that may be lost or disillusioned with their career path from school, I'm passionate about getting kids excited and passionate about what they want to do in life!
Caitlin Goodale: I became a VGA because I want to help out young people and students interested in working in the games industry who don’t know where to start. I understand how hard it is to get into the industry these days and I want to share the knowledge I’ve acquired! My industry mentors were pivotal to my success as a student and I want to give that to the next generation of developers.
What are the key words of wisdom that you would offer when talking to kids?
Joanna Orland: When talking to kids, it’s key to keep your energy up. A lot of them may struggle with their attention span and as your subject matter could be quite vast, it may be easy to lose their interest. If you remain enthusiastic and passionate about what you’re saying, they will too. Also, always encourage discussion. If you’re lecturing them, they may tune you out or not have a vested interest. Start your talk by asking them why they’re there and what they’re interested in. You’ll find that if you’re keen to listen to them, the feeling will be mutual.
Caitlin Goodale: Kids are smarter than they seem! Because they have grown up in a games-saturated, gamified culture they have a lot of cultural background and games knowledge to draw upon. Don’t talk down to them- recognise that their opinions and knowledge of game development are probably more nuanced than you’d expect.
What would you say to other games industry folk who do not know about the VGA scheme?
James Schall: We are so lucky to work in this wonderful industry, the UK is a hotbed of talent across all areas of making, producing, developing, marketing and selling games. Help bring on the next generation of people to keep this success going.
Joanna Orland: If you’ve been working in the Games Industry for a number of years, the VGA scheme is a way to encourage a younger generation to do the same. Without fresh talent, our industry will not grow. We have a duty to help young people find out if a career in Games Development is for them, and to help them onto that path if they decide that it is.
Just to show that you can be a VGA no matter what part of the industry you work in, can you give a brief summary of your specific talk you give to students?
Caitlin Goodale: I spoke about getting into game development from a beginner’s point of view. I touched on finding your specialism, university games courses, internships, indie development and networking. So a little of everything!
Joanna Orland: My EGX talk for the Ukie stand covered a high level overview of a career in Game Audio. I discussed my educational background and how I got into the industry, gave an overview of what Game Audio is and what a day in the life of the job entails, I gave examples of who works on a Game Audio team, and I concluded with advice on how they themselves could pursue a similar career. I also left time for questions as this is when attendees can get truly involved and find inspiration tailored to fit their needs.
We want to give a big thank you to Caitlin, Joanna and James for their time and to all the VGAs who volunteered throughout EGX on the genius bar. If you are interested in becoming a video game ambassador, please check out gamesambassadors.org.uk and sign up for free today. Help us to inspire the next generation of video games talent.
Have any questions about the VGA scheme? Please don't hesitate to email Richie.