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Top video game conference organizer and marketer speaks on her history in the industry and the future of women in the gaming industry

Ali Fearnley is Gaming Event Organizer. Gamer Women interviews her to discuss her entrance, history and the future of women in the gaming industry.

Ali Fearnley has been in the gaming industry since the 90’s and is considered to be one of the premier gaming event organizers in the industry. She was named as one of the top 100 Women in Gaming and is known for her remarkable marketing skills. Ali was gracious enough to interview with Gamer Women.

 

I know you are known for your terrific marketing, how would you describe your current job to someone that is unaware?

You’re too kind! I’m the Conference Director for Tandem Events, we’re a small company who organise conferences for the video games industry. What I enjoy about working for a small company is that you get to wear many hats, you’re hands on with everything and work in a close knit team. Our main event is Develop:Brighton, but we organise several other smaller conferences too, and it’s my job to deliver the visitors! This isn’t just about comms, although a big part of my role is promoting the event online via email marketing, the website, social media and working closely with trade media.

It’s also making sure we have an event that people want to attend, so we work with our advisory board made up of leading developers from small indies right up to the big studios and hardware manufacturers – a mix of people we believe truly represent the industry and therefore potential attendees. It’s important to get the right speakers talking about the right issues and topics, we also need to constantly evolve the event to ensure it reflects a fast moving industry – things never stand still, which is exciting and I love that! I’m always keen to hear what our delegates think too, whether good or bad we value their feedback.

I love working in events, even though it does get stressful (crunch!) as we get close to Develop, but the real reward is seeing it all come together onsite and seeing people enjoying the event and getting something useful out of it, it’s great that Develop has kind of become part of the industry itself now.

Gaming Event Organizer Conference

How did you get started organizing computer game trade shows?

My background is in marketing, and luckily for me back in 1997 one of my best friends Minnie McBride was event manager for ECTS (the UK’s video game trade show at the time) and they needed a marketing manager I was in publishing at the time but it sounded good fun so I applied and got the job. The event director was one Andy Lane, who then set up Tandem Events many years later. The rest as they say is history.

 

What would you say is the reason for the success of you and your company?

I think it all comes down to people – I love the people I work with at Tandem (we’re kind of like family now) and I’m so inspired by the developers we work closely with, I think in events you have to be a people person because people are what makes an event come to life.

 

Through your experience, have you seen an increase in women participating in the gaming industry?

Absolutely – every year we see more women attending and more women speaking – this year we had 20 out of 100 which is the highest number yet – it may not seem like a lot but believe me compared to even 5 years ago this is a huge increase. As the industry has changed it’s meant more women are actually making great, original games themselves and setting up really successful indie studios. But there’s obviously a long way to go I’d love to see a 50% gender split in our speakers!

 

What advice would you give to women that are interested in working in the gaming industry?

I’d say go for it, things really are changing! I’d also suggest contacting other female game developers and getting their advice and support – I know every single woman working in games would like to see more women coming into the industry so I’m sure they’ll be willing to help if they can. Of course they could always come along to Develop:Brighton see what it’s all about, and meet some real live game devs – they’re quite a friendly lot 

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