What do you do at Ukie?
This is actually a question I’ve been answering a lot over the past few months to friends and family when I say I have a new job. On a day to day level, I queue up social posts, write press releases, add articles to the blog, tidy up the website, create visual assets, respond to journalist enquiries. Basically, if it’s communications or content, I’m all over it.
As I’m still very new to the role, a lot of what I do is very task-focused and mostly supporting George with the story we’re telling here at Ukie – the artistic and economic contribution video games make to the UK, the benefits games have to individuals and society at large, and how to help make the UK the best place in the world to make, sell and play games. And as I’m also new to the industry you might see me doing a lot of learning – sitting in on meetings, asking stupid questions, piecing things together.
But I’m very excited to take what I’m learning and start using it to shake things up, from exciting new ways of doing comms at Ukie to new content projects that will help us to better connect with our members and the wider games industry. Keep your eyes peeled…
What made you want to work in the games industry?
As a child I loved video games. When I was 9 years old my parents bought me a Nintendo DS and I spent the summer playing Animal Crossing with my best friend on my street to escape the bullies who had internalised the late-00s vogue for casual homophobia and mercilessly teased us, literal children, for being “lesbians.” (We both like women now. How did they know?)
In the autumn of 2006 I became dangerously ill with pneumonia, and this is when I discovered Pokémon. As a treat when I came out of hospital and was recovering at my grandparents house, I was given Pokémon Emerald. This opened me up to a wealth of new friends at school who played Pokémon like the other kids played football – I vividly remember a sunny afternoon spent with my friend Ammar where we alternated between one of us bouncing on his trampoline whilst the other attempted to catch Rayquaza on my DS. In ICT we played logic games like Zoombeenies and loved them so much we bought the CD Rom. We’d spend hours together on flash game sites like Nitrome and Miniclip – my early years at high school were marked by the kids who figured out how to download games onto the school computers and play them in the library at lunch. When I discovered Sims, this opened up yet another world, one where I could be access creative parts of my brain in ways that went beyond paper and pencil and paints.
As I got older, though, I became self-conscious. Most of the girls I was friends with didn’t play games, and the boys I was friends with were starting to branch out in to genres I found at best, uninteresting and at worst, frightening and stressful. Other than the odd afternoon trying and failing to play Portal on a friend’s console, I stopped playing games.
My last role was in complaints at a renewable energy company, working closely with the press team. Whilst I found I was enjoying the press side of things more and more, the consumer side of the energy industry didn’t particularly capture my imagination. During this time, the COVID-19 lockdown hit, which coincided with the release of a game in the very first franchise I ever played – Animal Crossing. As I did when I was a child, I escaped back into the world of games. I set up a Twitter account where I tweeted jokes about my experience of the game, with the occasional viral hit and 4k followers at its peak. I branched out into games like Breath of the Wild and Stardew Valley, my boyfriend at the time buying me Pokémon Sword as a “plague gift”, like my parents had bought me Pokémon Emerald so many years before when I was sick. I played online games with a group of loose acquaintances who quickly became a vital support network in the depths of the locked-down winter.
As I began to play games more and more frequently, my dissatisfaction in my existing role got stronger. When I found out that Ukie were hiring, I was thrilled. “That’s you!” said my boyfriend. “Press, content, and games? It’s perfect!”
So now I’m back in the world of games, and I absolutely love it.
What are you playing at the moment?
Hollow Knight, because I hate myself. This game is such a rewarding, gorgeously sensory experience that is so frustratingly difficult I want to buy every member of the dev team a drink and then immediately slap it out of their hand.
Currently my laptop is broken but when it’s fixed I’m also very excited to play Lake and Sable, two games that seem about twenty thousand times more relaxing.
What do you do in your spare time, apart from playing games?
I am also, for my sins, a stand up comedian. I try to gig around 3 times a week all across London and although I don’t think I’ve written any jokes in this article so far, I am kind of decent (I just did the semi-finals of the national Funny Women awards and am waiting to hear if I got through to the finals).
When I’m not doing that, I like to rollerskate, collage or draw, rummage around charity shops and wander around art galleries.
Do you have a pet? (Show us a picture!) If not, what pet would you like to have one day?
I don’t have a pet and this question has really backfired because fewer Ukie team members than I anticipated have pets. I would, however, absolutely love a ragdoll cat (even though I am allergic to cats – I will simply have to suck it up.) My flatmate and I recently decided when possible we’d get two ragdoll cats called Heston and Nigella, which is possibly the most middle class joke I’ve ever made.
Follow Louisa on Twitter - @ukie_louisa