On 12 and 13 October 2018 the Cologne Game Haus hosted Womenize!, a recruitment and networking event for females in games, tech and digital business.
The participants experienced two days packed with thrilling speeches and presentations of strong and successful women and got insights into the requirements and special characteristics of the gaming industry. Moderator and former eSports pro Melek “m3lly” Balgün lead competently through the inspiring event, which was founded in 2015 by Ruth Lemmen and Michael Liebe in order to counter the skills shortage as well as empower women to succeed in the industry.Petra Müller from Film- und Medienstiftung North Rhine-Westphalia draw attention to the fact that statistics are important when it comes to discovering inequalities in the film, media and gaming industry. The Stiftung is well aware of the fact that since the introduction of its game funding scheme in 2011 less than 10 % of the applicants have been women. In order to change such frustrating numbers, Mrs Müller was immediately willing to support the CGH-Womanize! edition as patron and with financial support. “Womenize! is needed” she said with emphasis in her opening speech.
As a special guest Nadine Angerer was welcomed for a fireside chat with m3lly Balgün. Germany’s former national goal keeper was asked to describe how she managed to succeed in a men’s sport. As a surprise she stated that football is not at all a men’s sport in the US, where Nadine works as a goal keeper coach today. In North America men play American football, baseball or basketball. “Soccer” is a sport for girls and women. That is why women’s football is more accepted in the US and the ladies regularly fill big stadiums.
Asked for her tipps for succeeding in a tough job situation, she recommended four things:
- Have patience until your efforts pay off
- Find and trust the right team and supporters around you
- Work hard and rely on your talent
As a summary Nadine stated that success sometimes comes with a change of a typical female mindset: Women want to be perfect, women don’t want to fail. This attitude often hinders women from accepting criticism as something positive. So Nadine’s final statement was:
“Criticism is good. Constructive criticism even better. Learn from it and trust the people around you.”
Ann-Kathrin Kuhls was asked to give insights into her job as a gaming journalist at the video gaming magazine “GamePro”. She described lively and in a moving way how the changes in the media sector affect her own career and everyday life. She no longer only has to play or understand games and write articles about them for a print magazine. Nowadays she also has to be a content publisher.
So apart from writing professional news texts, she had to learn about web publishing, user experience, timing, clickable headlines, image processing and – after all – dealing with negative comments under her articles. That – obviously – was the hardest thing to learn.
Ann-Kathrin experienced that female journalists receive more negative comments than male colleagues. Women are insulted about their make-up, clothing, weight etc. Haters or trolls would even comment they would rather die than dating or making love with her. In such moments Ann-Kathrin wishes there were a new social button she could use then. A button that would notify the haters’ mothers. She loves to envisage how their mothers would give them hell about their unbelievably rude behaviour.
As a consequence she reads the comments under her articles less often (which is quite unfair for all the positive commenters) or only in moments of strength (rather not when she is tired or ill). In a defiant manner she concluded that she will still not stop writing strong opinions on her factual issues although they will cause even more headwind. She is convinced:
“If our content is neither challenging nor unique – why would anyone bother reading it at all?”
Anna Appenzeller and Andreas Suika gave a witty report on the Indie Booth Arena they developed and constructed for gamescom 2018. It was the biggest fair booth they had ever build with 450 people working for or on it. Consequently the organisation was a real challenge for the two of them but turned out an awesome tour de force in the end. Everyone was highly satisfied with the business outcome as well as the personal support and cooperation.
The report on all the things that went wrong but turned out well in the end, served as a sort of blueprint for start-up thinking. There will always happen unexpected things but if you stay calm, flexible and friendly, all issues can be solved.
“Kindness is a boomerang”
was Anna’s and Andreas’ conclusion after the 14 days of pure stress and hard work.
In an interesting panel discussion Sara “Paleolite” Jakobsén (pro gamer from Sweden), David Smith (Founder of Women in Games and eSports), Kristina Müller (Head of Strategic Partnerships ESL) and Melek “m3lly” Balgün shared their opinions on the chances for women in eSports.
The participants lamented the lack of women in eSports and regretted that obviously too few girls were interested in competing in games. Sara described that she only became active in eSports after visiting an eSports event where boys and girls were playing. Only then she realized that competing in games could of course also be interesting for herself and not unusual for a girl. David supported the idea that girls needed more female gamers to identfy with. He stated:
“You can’t be what you can’t see.”
This idea ended up in a sort of vicious circle. Where there are no girls there will be no girls. Kristina added that the ESL platforms were open for girls as well of course and that girls were highly welcome but would just not apply. So more events for attracting girls for eSports are clearly needed in order to demonstrate girls this interesting free-time activity and trigger a wish that might already be there but not put into practice yet.
As French native Odile Limpach impressively demonstrated the differences between the French and the German culture with regard to working moms. After having studied in Paris and New York Odile followed her carreer consequently in Germany. She started in Duisburg, moved to Hamburg and later to Dusseldorf and Cologne. She had held several positions including two employments as a Managing Director in the games industry until she became a professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne responsible for the Cologne Game Lab. During all those years she got three children – and a dog, as she impishly added.
In France her friends and family regard the fact of having a successful high-level career AND children as quite normal. In Germany Odile will automatically be either super woman or a bad mother. Anyway she will be judged. Which is not the case in France.
Apart from creating a fairer tax system which incentivates motherhood and establishing more childcare structures for under 6 year-olds, Odile calls for a change of culture and mindset. In France children are rather seen as “adults in progress” who need as much different input as possible to flourish. Germans think that a child is raised best by its parents or within its own family. This idea must be overcome in order to really change the situations within companies when it comes to hiring mothers. As a final advice for the ladies in the audience, Odile finished saying:
“And don’t forget to choose the right partners, who share the idea that both parents are allowed to have a career.”
Finally Linda Kruse encouraged her audience to found an own company. She reported from the beginnings of establishing her company “The Good Evil” in 2013. Motivation is key, she said. While bringing a start-up to life, hundreds of things need to be done at the same time. So your desire to be successful with an own company needs to be really strong to prevent you from giving up too early. After that 1) a good idea, 2) a solid business plan, 3) a reliable team/partner(s), 4) some initial capital and 5) a good network is needed.
Don’t be afraid if you don’t feel ready yet. Because probably you never will. So just give your idea a try and make your dream come true. And most of all:
“Talk about your idea and envisaged business as much as you can.”
Only then you will find the right partners and new and often unexpected opportunities which can really bring you and your business forward, Linda is convinced.
We thank everybody who contributed to the amazing event in our Cologne Game Haus and know that the participants were just as satisfied as we were. We hope that many women got inspired and encouraged to engage further in the games and tech industry and follow their carreer with all the tipps and advice they got during the two days here in Cologne.
We are really looking forward to hosting further inspiring events like this one in our rooms.
Special thanks go out to our sponsors and supporters of Womenize!@Cologne Game Haus 2018:
- Film- und Medienstiftung NRW
- Booster Space
- Ubisoft/Blue Byte
- Nukklear Digital Minds