Career advice, online abuse and favourite games on the agenda with BioWare’s Karin Weekes!
Karin Weekes is Lead Editor at BioWare’s Studio in Edmonton, Alberta and there has worked on some huge titles including Dragon Age II and Mass Effect 3. Coming from a background of journalism and editing in Silicon Valley, she found the perfect place to utilise her skills and expertise at BioWare and joined the editing team, working her way up to lead the department since 2012.
What is your current favourite game? Did you have a favourite growing up?
My faves change pretty often; I’m obviously partial to BioWare games, but am currently enjoy playing Destiny with my sons. Their dad is also a great GM*, so we’ve been playing a round of 13th Age tabletop quite a bit lately, as well.
Growing up, I went to arcades to play video games that weren’t Oregon Trail, all in green, on my parents’ Apple IIC. J In high school, we’d go to the pizza place across the street to play Ms. Pac Man, Centipede, and Asteroids.
How did you find yourself working in the games industry?
Somewhat by accident; I’m an editor by trade, and after studying journalism, I had several communications jobs in the nonprofit arena. I then was a technical editor at a chip-maker in Silicon Valley, and moved away from that job to move to Canada when my husband got a writing job at BioWare. After a year home with our baby son, I learned about a new editing position at BioWare; my mishmash of previous editing jobs luckily provided the background they were looking for, and away I went! It’s the best job I’ve ever had.
What is your official job title and what are your day to day responsibilities at your company?
I am the Lead Editor for BioWare’s Edmonton and Montreal studios; I work with our team of 4 editors (including me) to make sure the words in our games (spoken dialog and any non-spoken text that appears in-game) are consistent. This involves editing voice, checking IP (e.g., making sure a planet name we made up is spelled and pronounced correctly across 3 games), and communicating with a whole bunch of teams in our design department about the text they’re producing. The editors also communicate with our VoiceOver and Localization departments as they work to get dialog recorded and non-dialog text translated.
Would you say choosing and achieving a career in gaming today is easier or more difficult than 10 years ago?
Quite a bit easier – the industry has grown a lot over the past decade. There are many more developers of all sizes making all kinds of games all over the world now. School have game development programs, and a lot more design software is easily available; it’s easier than ever to jump right in and give it a try.
What’s the biggest perk/favourite part to your job?
My colleagues. They’re the best group of creative, smart, passionate people, and I am so lucky to get to be even a small part of what they do every day.
What advice would you have for any girls/women hoping for a career in the gaming industry?
My two primary suggestions are:
1) Hone your craft. “Loving video games” isn’t a marketable skill; being a good writer/artist/programmer/level designer/translator/voice actor/marketing professional/administrative professional/producer is. Look at where your talents and passions lie, develop those skills, and research the parts of the industry you’re interested in to find out where your skills fit.
2) Be a good communicator, especially regarding feedback. Communication between the various teams on projects is crucial – you need to be able to not only organize and explain the vision for your part of the project, you’ll need to understand and incorporate the vision of other project teams. If you’re currently on a school dev team, or a writing group, or at a game jam, actively seek out feedback on your work, then incorporate that feedback. The more experience you have at doing this, the better your work experience will be.
Have you ever been abused online? If so, how did you handle it?
I’m lucky that the vast majority of my online interactions have been friendly (or at the very least, constructive and respectful). Unfortunately, it’s not altogether unusual for devs who have online presences to be on the receiving end of a bit of less-than-constructive feedback. I’ve experienced some of that, as well as more personal remarks because I’m female. For my own health, it’s most effective to ignore it – the more caught up in it I get, the more stressful it is. This is made easier by having people (and organizations like Cybersmile!) that I can talk to about it; they really help to support me in letting it go and focusing on more important things.
For further information about our work in the cyberbullying, harassment and digital abuse fields – feel free to explore the following suggestions.
- Gaming Support Centre
- Who are Cybersmile?
- Corporate Alignment at Cybersmile
- IGDA’s Kate Edwards talks careers and the problem of abuse in gaming
- Intel CEO announces charity match at IEM in aid of Cybersmile
Thanks, Karin! What great career advice!
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