International Women’s Day comments from game industry professionals

Here are the comments from the game industry professionals in the honor of International Women’s Day.

We teamed up with Raptor PR and asked the game industry professionals for their opinions and comments on the International Women’s Day.

The Games Fund

Maria Kochmola Co-founder and Managing Partner at The Games Fund 

In 2017, Maria joined My.Games, the gaming division of a public corporation (MAIL:LI), kickstarting MGVC as the Investment Director and first employee. Maria was responsible for M&A and venture investments, leading over 35 gaming investment deals and 6 acquisitions, solidifying MGVC’s position as a global leading corporate investor. Maria brings extensive experience in VC investments, with over 10 years of work in VC firms, including AYR Financial and Vestor.In. 

Before transitioning to the VC sector, Maria worked in management consulting at A.T.Kearney. Maria is one of few female gaming fund managers, promoting a unique perspective on the video games industry. 

In 2022 Maria received a Forbes 30u30 award in the Investment category. Her favorite games: are: Death Stranding, CoD Mobile, Last of Us, League of Legends, Fortnite, and Final Fantasy 7.

The importance of diversity and inclusion in the games industry – the theme of this year’s IWD is ‘inspire inclusion’ – what more needs to be done here?

When it comes to equal representation and inclusivity in the video game industry, it’s high time to take action. Business people are often the ones who take center stage, but developers deserve to have their voices heard as well. We need to prioritize giving them a platform to share their ideas, including their expertise, experience, and vision for the future of the industry. Moreover, we cannot afford to ignore our audience and treat them solely as economic units. They are our partners and we need to work closely with them, listening to their concerns and feedback. Platforms such as dev blogs and Discord servers should be embraced, allowing developers to interact directly with players. 

The significant gender imbalance in the industry needs to be addressed. While we can point to some areas of progress, I still see a huge shortfall in the number of job applications from women as opposed to men, which is concerning and shows that many women simply don’t see opportunities for them in the games industry. Across the board, people from underrepresented groups need to see examples of success and clear pathways to being able to join and contribute meaningfully. 

Your current role and career history

Throughout my life, I’ve had a passion for video gaming and have been fascinated by games. I chose a career path in finance and corporate management, where I gained experience working for management consulting and VC/PE industries. In 2017, I was fortunate enough to combine my two passions when we founded MGVC, which became one of the first institutional gaming investors in the world. I was appointed as an Investment Director and worked alongside talented game developers,  designed and executed the innovative investment strategy and funded many talented game developers who ultimately built a lot of value for the corporation.  

Today, leading The Games Fund, I am grateful to be working with some of the most creative and ambitious minds in the gaming industry. Together, we are unlocking human capital and potential that’s shaping the future of video games, which is an exciting and impactful effort.

Tips for those entering the games industry 

There is no perfect time to start a career in the video game industry. Despite the uncertainty in the world, pursuing your interest in this field is worth it. With modern technology and educational resources available for free online, even small teams can create exciting and successful games that can be enjoyed from anywhere. This significantly reduces the barriers to entry in the industry, whether as an employee at a major studio, an indie developer, or a founder. So, don’t hesitate. Now is the time to start.

Hurdles you have faced as a woman in the games industry – have you overcome them or do these still need addressing? 

I consider myself incredibly lucky because, throughout my gaming career, I’ve been surrounded by incredibly supportive colleagues and partners. I realize this isn’t always the case for everyone. But still sometimes, when I talk to new people who are not very familiar with our background, I feel a slight doubt and prejudice against a female gaming investor – like, yeah, what can you know about games? They don’t know I can likely destroy them in Fortnite or League of Legends, haha. But as soon as we start talking and dig deeper, we are instantly on the same level. I strongly believe in combating the stigma of women in gaming, and I prefer to lead by personal example.


Andrew Christodoulou: Payment Expert and Business Development Manager at Worldline 

Andrew is a professional experienced in finance and gaming, with a rich background in the fintech realm within the video game industry. His journey has been exhilarating as he has collaborated with numerous companies to optimize their payment strategies, playing a pivotal role in enhancing their financial operations. His love affair with gaming ignited at the age of 10, evolving from a mere pastime into a lifelong passion. This distinctive fusion of financial expertise and unwavering gaming enthusiasm has moulded him into a versatile individual who not only comprehends the intricacies of digital economies but also wholeheartedly embraces the immersive worlds of video games.

The importance of diversity and inclusion in the games industry – the theme of this year’s IWD is ‘inspire inclusion’ – what more needs to be done here?

Fostering diversity and inclusion is crucial for innovation and sustainable growth within such a dynamic space as the game industry. To further this cause, it’s essential for companies to implement comprehensive diversity programs, ensuring equal opportunities for underrepresented groups. Initiatives like inclusive hiring practices and specialized mentorship programs focused on promoting diversity and inclusion can play a pivotal role in inspiring and promoting inclusion.

What have you done in your career to maintain and increase diversity and equality?

Throughout my career, I’ve actively supported diversity and equality by championing inclusive hiring practices and advocating for diverse perspectives in decision-making processes. Additionally, I have consistently promoted a culture that values and celebrates differences, fostering an environment where everyone feels heard and respected.

What do you suggest women do in the face of discrimination?

As a man, I personally cannot imagine the amount of discrimination women have to face in the workplace on a daily basis. Discrimination in general is an unnecessary activity that causes a lot of harm and pain to those involved. In the face of discrimination, I believe it is crucial for women to continue speaking up and reporting incidents to appropriate channels within the organisation. After all, they are also champions in their organisation! Building a network of support, both within and outside the workplace, can provide valuable guidance and assistance. Additionally, organisations should actively promote a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and ensure that clear reporting mechanisms are in place to address such issues promptly.

Have you ever witnessed a female co-worker facing discrimination? Have you or how have you interfered or tried to help them overcome it?

Yes, unfortunately, I have witnessed instances of discrimination against female colleagues in the past. In such situations, I have always taken a proactive approach by addressing the issue and discriminator directly with the individuals involved, when sensing that the person being discriminated against needed help. Additionally, I have supported affected colleagues by connecting them with relevant resources, such as HR or support networks, to ensure a swift and effective resolution.


Nur Ugurlu Business Development Representative at ZBD

In my current position as a Business Development Representative at ZBD, I focus on identifying new opportunities for partnerships. My role involves being on the lookout for game developers who can benefit from rewarded play and building relationships within the gaming community to support company growth.

The importance of diversity and inclusion in the games industry – the theme of this year’s IWD is ‘inspire inclusion’ – what more needs to be done here?

A critical area of focus should be on the approach to creating junior roles within organizations. Being open-minded in crafting these positions means going beyond traditional hiring criteria and recognizing the varied pathways individuals might take into the games industry. This includes valuing different educational backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets that can enrich the creative and operational processes within the industry.

Implementing internship and apprenticeship programs that emphasize skill development, mentorship, and hands-on experience can also bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and industry needs. Such initiatives not only provide valuable entry points for underrepresented talents but also contribute to a more inclusive, dynamic, and innovative industry.

Your current role and career history

In my current position as a Business Development Representative at ZBD, I focus on identifying new opportunities for partnerships. My role involves being on the lookout for game developers who can benefit from rewarded play and building relationships within the gaming community to support company growth.

Before ZBD, I worked at Vertigo Games as a Finance & Strategy Lead. My main focus was on building partnerships for the Company’s financing round.

Overall, my career history spans business development and financial strategy in the gaming sector, emphasizing relationship building and process management to support organizational objectives.

Tips for those entering the games industry

The video games industry, despite its vast reach and large audience, operates within a surprisingly tight-knit professional network. It’s common to encounter the same individuals across various events, online platforms, or projects throughout one’s career. This highlights the significance of maintaining positive interactions and fostering a supportive, collaborative, and respectful demeanour. Such behaviour not only contributes to a better working environment but also enhances future collaboration opportunities and can significantly aid in career advancement.

Furthermore, personal and professional growth in this fast-paced industry necessitates an openness to new challenges and responsibilities. Given the industry’s constant evolution, adopting a mindset geared towards continuous learning and adaptability is essential. Seizing opportunities that push your boundaries not only broadens your abilities but also positions you for further advancement, underscoring the importance of adaptability and proactivity for success in the gaming sector.

Hurdles you have faced as a woman in the games industry – have you overcome them or do these still need addressing? 

One significant hurdle I faced was being relatively new to the field, which often meant navigating unfamiliar territories without the benefit of established networks or industry-specific knowledge. This challenge, while daunting, was mitigated through the support of mentors who were incredibly generous with their time and guidance. Their willingness to support someone new to the industry not only helped me overcome initial obstacles but also instilled in me the importance of mentorship and community. Inspired by their example, I’ve become proactive in offering support to my colleagues, fostering an environment where knowledge and resources are shared freely. While being new to the industry was a hurdle, the mentorship and community I found have been pivotal in my journey.


Elizabeth Figueroa, 3D Artist, Midjiwan

What more needs to be done to ‘inspire inclusion’ in the games industry?

We need to keep encouraging and helping women to be more confident. Keep talking about women in games, perhaps by delivering talks or workshops at schools to create an interest from a young age and encourage them to follow their passions and dreams. I think there has been an increase of women working in the gaming industry, and I hope this continues and grows even more.

Explain your current role and career history

My name is Elizabeth Figueroa and I work as a game artist at Midjiwan, or as a 3D generalist I would say. I really enjoy being part of a small company, it gives me the advantage to be responsible for multiple aspects of a 3D production pipeline. I create both 2D and 3D art, which includes sketching concept designs, modeling, texturing, lighting, rendering and animation. Making art for marketing is also a big part of my job. I began my journey studying 3D Animation & Visualization. I’ve always had a passion for creative and visual arts so I had my heart set on working with this someday. Playing video games was a big part of my childhood so I was very happy to have the opportunity to begin my working career at Midjiwan after graduating from the university.  

What tips do you have for those entering the games industry?

I would say be yourself and don’t be afraid of all the competition out there when you’re applying for a job: you are just as capable as anyone else. Work on your portfolio and make connections. I think that people in the gaming community are very humble and very open to help each other out. If you are passionate and dedicated, you will come a long way. 

Have you faced hurdles as a woman in the games industry – have you overcome them or do these still need addressing? 

I can’t really say I have. I think it’s very sad when women end up in companies where they feel both excluded and treated unfairly, or experience any kind of harassment. I´m glad there are organizations that support women in the gaming industry, to keep empowering women to pursue their passion and dreams. Everyone should feel welcome and be treated equally, regardless of gender.

Sandsoft Games

Aleksandra Korbolewska, Talent Acquisition Partner, Sandsoft

As a Talent Acquisition Partner at Sandsoft Games, Aleksandra plays a pivotal role in sourcing, attracting, and retaining top-tier talent to fuel the company’s growth and success in the competitive gaming market. With over a decade of experience in the tech and gaming sectors, Aleksandra holds an expertise in candidate sourcing, relationship management, and talent acquisition strategy to drive organizational growth and excellence. Prior to joining Sandsoft Games, Aleksandra held lead recruiting positions at King, the creators of Candy Crush Saga, and other tech companies.

The importance of diversity and inclusion in the games industry – the theme of this year’s IWD is ‘inspire inclusion’ – what more needs to be done here?

Seeing some progress and a lot of effort from companies in that field is heartwarming but there is still much ground to cover in terms of D&I in the gaming industry. Representation of female employees is still significantly lower than the male ones. Here at Sandsoft, we are joining the battle to fill that gap and I’m proud to say that, currently, 29% of our employees are female, which is more than the industry average! This is only the beginning though and we remain committed to inclusive hiring practices and educating our interviewers on how to conduct a fair and unbiased assessment. Empowering girls to reach out for their dreams is part of our mission and ambition to build the gaming industry on new, inclusive rules. I’m very happy to say that half of our recent ‘Press Start’ internship program participants were female and two of them were invited to join us as regular employees. Maintaining a zero-tolerance policy for harassment, discrimination, and toxic behavior is another cornerstone of our commitment to supporting women to thrive within the Sandsoft work environment. 

Your current role and career history

I’ve been working in the gaming industry for almost 7 years now, starting as a Talent Sourcer at King. I had a chance to recruit across multiple teams: Product, Tech, Design, Art, Data. I had the privilege of working alongside exceptional female mentors which no doubt influenced my work ethic and shaped my understanding of what it means to be a great leader.

Since March 2023, I have been leading the Talent Acquisition department at Sandsoft. During the last few months, we successfully onboarded 2 fantastic Recruiters and I had the opportunity to test myself as a people manager for the first time. It is a fascinating experience and thanks to my current manager’s trust and support I am learning and growing every day.

Tips for those entering the games industry

Understanding industry needs is key. Do your research, explore your options, and think about your career path and the skills/tools you will need to accomplish your dreams. Try to identify short and long-term goals that will lead you to your desired job and then work hard to upskill! Find a mentor or teacher in your community and let them inspire you! Ask for help if needed.

Also, consider signing up for an internship and take every opportunity to meet great people who believe in you and recognize your potential. Every single experience (also the challenging ones, especially those ones!) will contribute to your growth. Stay ambitious, trust in your abilities and never ever stop learning. 

Hurdles you have faced as a woman in the games industry – have you overcome them or do these still need addressing? 

I was always lucky to work with great people and the hurdles I have experienced are rather the typical challenges women encounter, regardless of the industry I think. The toughest battle was (and sometimes still is) happening in my own head – my internal critic fed by stereotypes and male-dominated culture was sabotaging my self-confidence. Feeling like my voice doesn’t matter and my opinions aren’t interesting are barriers I still struggle with. The impostor syndrome is real, and sometimes you need a solid leader, mentor, or supportive peer to help you fight it. That’s why it is so important to focus on lifting each other up every day, supporting growth, being proud of each other’s wins, celebrating successes, and turning mistakes into learning opportunities.

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