This is a series of posts from my road trip in 2011 where I traveled around the US and Canada giving talks, attending conferences, visiting IGDA chapters, networking, hanging out with friends, and dog sitting an adorable pug named Thomas!
Just got back from a long day of border hopping into Canada. Unlike my trip to Victoria, however, this one was a much calmer experience.
I was able to schedule all my Vancouver stuff in one day which was very exciting and convenient as crossing borders and being unable to use most of my phone is not something I want to do often without planning for it. Today’s plan was: Lunch, Snacks, Dinner.
I had the good fortune today of having lunch plans with Paul Keetch1. A marketing and business coach I met at a business summit where he was one of the coaches. We’ve stayed in touch and passed info and tips back and forth to each other. For example, if you’re Sony VAIO starts acting up, or in Paul’s case won’t show your external monitor: turn the laptop off, pick it up, shake it back and forth, put it back down, turn it back on. Voila – fixed VAIO! (I’m not joking, ask him. My tip really worked for him. :>)
We met at a taphouse where apparently he’s a regular as they brought him out their pretzels with a new sauce to try and get his feedback. As a customer experience person I thought it was a great move. Your regulars are more likely to be honest with you if you treat them right and they have more experience with your place of business to make a more solid judgement.
Although we originally were just going there for lunch and then moving on with our days, between talks of marketing, social media, customer experience, hockey, weather, east Canada versus west Canada, metric versus SI, etc. we ended up spending FOUR HOURS together. It was one of the best business/leisure lunches I’ve had in a very long time! Hey Paul – next time you’re in Chicago area let’s do another lunch!
I was supposed to meet the lovely Susannah “Su” Skerl for snacks/coffee after my lunch and before my dinner. However, Su is getting ready to have a baby any day now and by the time she got home from her latest baby check-up at the doctor’s she was too exhausted to even think of being social. Having a few friends who recently gave birth or are pregnant now and exhausted I totally understood and I got a rain check. I was sad to not see her as I hadn’t seen her since GDC 2009, but I’m sure we’ll reconnect soon.
Capping off my day in Vancouver was a private dinner for the WIGI Vancouver Chapter2 aka WIG Eh. 🙂 I’ve been a big supporter of WIGI3 ever since they started doing events and professional development back in 2006 and joined their steering committee in 2009. So I was excited to find out that although IGDA Vancouver4 wasn’t hosting anything while I was in the area that WIGI was! WIGI, along with the IGDA WIG SIG, and the IGDA in general, promote a lot of the same core values: community, professional development, and advocacy. It’s why I donate so much of my time to both organizations and why I love it whenever the IGDA’s Women in Games SIG and WIGI can collaborate together.
I went in to the dinner expecting two minor hurdles: 1) it was at an oyster bar that served almost nothing but seafood/shellfish based dishes and I’m allergic to a lot of that, and 2) I didn’t expect to find anyone there that I knew since Su was not going to be there. Turns out I was able to overcome both hurdles. First, the place did have one meat based option that, while spicy, I was able to eat and so I didn’t have to go through the meal hungry and watching everyone else eat [and I also found someone else there who has almost as many allergies as I do!]. Second, it turns out I wasn’t a stranger to everyone in this small group. I had previously met Kirsten at some past GDCs and heard her talk about production processes at Radical Entertainment and now she was one of the founders and COO of Silicon Sisters Interactive5. It was great to see her again and talk about some of the “old school” women in games folks we both knew and she was mentioning names I hadn’t even heard mentioned in awhile [Denise Fulton where are you? :)].
Her co-founder, Brenda Bailey, was there and we’d previously met as well at a different WIGI function. She was at a WIGI organizing lunch held during E3 of 2009 and that’s when I first got to meet Brenda. She recognized me first and we got to talking post-dinner about her traveling down to California (but not at the same time I would be there) to work on some event stuff for WIGI. It was exciting to hear all that was going on with her, Kirsten, and SSI.
Last but not least, the first person I recognized was Sara Moore. Sara joined up with Brandii Grace to help be one of the lead volunteers for the IGDA booth at GDC this year. As the main person in charge of GDC activities and support for IGDA this year, let me just tell you, Sara was a lifesaver! Even battling the normal GDC bug she was still one of the most hard working, on top of it, great to be around volunteers I’ve met in a long while. We’ll definitely be connecting again and I hope to see her again at GDC.
I got to meet another baker’s dozen of women that night at the dinner and have a nice semi-quiet social gathering with some amazing women working in game development today. Here’s to the future!
I left that night filled with good food, good talk, and some amazing new contacts and feeling good about the progress we’re slowly making on diversity and inclusion in video games. I also had a pretty quick border cross back into the US so that helped too.
- Sheri Rubin joined the IGDA in 1999 which inspired her to become the advocate and community builder for the global video game industry that she is today.