For many, entering any industry as a newcomer is daunting, and not knowing where to start can be the hardest part. Thankfully, the Working Lunch program aims to give women and non-binary people a head-start in the games industry.
As of 2018, almost 50% of gamers are women, yet only 15% contribute to the creative workings of the industry. These numbers have grown over time yet still show a clear gap in gender equality in the games industry. This is where Working Lunch comes in.
The Working Lunch program aims to give underrepresented people a “seat at the table” in the form of mentorship for participants in Australia and New Zealand’s games industry. This consists of seminars and workshops that aim to equip attendees with tools and advice to expand on the networking and communication skills that are vital to the industry.
The Working Lunch program covers freelancing, communication, networking and more every eight weeks until a graduation ceremony is held in October. Mentees and mentors also work in specialised pairs to discuss plans and goals for the future.
“Myself and my mentor were over the moon to be matched,” Working Lunch participant Sey Atkinson says.
“We both knew we had so much to learn from each other and were so excited to start this journey together.
“I am amazed and inspired by all these incredible industry professionals, students, freelancers, CEOs, mentors, mentees, etc. It’s super overwhelming but it’s such a safe, supportive and empowering environment. There is so much respect, admiration and acceptance in the room.”
“this program has given me this amazing opportunity to be in a room with so many talented and experienced industry professionals”.
Melanie Taylor, an Independent Game Developer and Working Lunch Mentor, says the program is a great way to give young and underrepresented people the ability to connect and set foot in the industry.
“I wanted to give back to the community, that’s why I volunteered,” she said. “(The games industry) is known for being pretty difficult to get to know people and to be seen, especially if you’re an underrepresented person.
“I think it would be really great if (the program) would be a bit more global. As someone who is from a different country, I think it would be really great if we could see more things like that in other countries”.
Australia’s games industry has the potential to grow exponentially with programs like these providing opportunities for women and non-binary industry newcomers, and it is important that the Working Lunch shines a spotlight on what the industry can be.