- Role: Narrative Designer
- Company: Mighty Kingdom
- Location: Adelaide, Australia
Very wise words from writer Brenna Hillier!
QRM: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the games industry?
Brenna: I've been writing down things pertaining to games for money for over ten years. I worked as a games journalist for most of that time, but I hit a ceiling in independent media in Australia and I wasn't keen to go down the corporate or influencer route - even if I were suited to either, which I'm definitely not! - so I left the industry altogether for a year. After a series of adventures I was lucky enough to wind up in a conversation at Game Plus in Adelaide, which eventually led to me landing a job so ideal I'd never even dreamed of trying for it. Now I plan, plot, script and build cutscenes for multiple projects with a great team of people. I'm 35, gay as the moon, and cannot be stopped.
QRM: What about the games industry excites and inspires you?
Brenna: I personally am happy anywhere I can write things down, pay my rent, and feel I've inspired some sort of reaction or emotion with an audience - but there's something especially magical about the agency players find in games that makes that connection extra special. I also love working in a group of creatives who are all equally if not more geeky, so I don't have to reach for water cooler conversation or put up with jokes at my expense. I spent 12 months among the muggles, and I refuse to go back.
QRM: What about the games industry frustrates or disappoints you? What are the challenges you’re currently facing in the industry?
Brenna: Crunch, work-life balance and job security are big ticket issues across the industry, but they can be especially consequential for marginalised people, because we're significantly more likely to have additional complicating circumstances, like challenging home situations, financial insecurity and health troubles. I'm really happy to be at Mighty Kingdom, because management takes employee wellbeing very seriously, but it seems like that's a pretty rare approach. Personally, my biggest challenges are struggling with inter-personal communications when I go through a rough mental health patch, so having the flexibility to work at home; knowing I can speak directly to anybody in the company about my concerns; receiving active support for my little foibles; and being able to speak openly about my problems without judgment have been enormously enabling.
QRM: If you could make one roadblock magically disappear from the games industry, what would you choose and why?
Brenna: I would love to make all non-marginalised people aware of the cultural barriers that the rest of us constantly push back against, and have them understand what it's like to live with the incessant friction of feeling excluded and alienated by microaggressions. We often talk about impostor syndrome and lack of self confidence as barriers for marginalised people to overcome, and I do believe the world would be a better place if we all felt comfortable talking directly to our bosses, speaking up in meetings, and pushing our ideas. But the problem is two-sided, and it's not just about us leaning in; so many of us are powerfully conditioned by social roles or trauma to take a back seat, and very often there's no hand reaching down to meet ours reaching up.
QRM: What message would you give to allies—both individuals and companies—who want to know how to support marginalised people better?
Brenna: Don't just feed your diverse hires into the meat grinder; you must actively work to create an inclusive and supportive culture. There's no point in the CEO saying 'we welcome people of all kinds' if on day one your new hire is sharing desk space with somebody who uses language demonstrating their intolerance. Hire people who share the values you want your company to embody - and be willing to get rid of (or counsel and educate) those who don't.
QRM: What message would you give to marginalised people who are working in games or would like to work in games?
Brenna: Join the union. This message applies to everyone, actually!
QRM: If people want to find and support you and your work, how can they do that?
Brenna: If you wish to follow me on social networks you must pass a series of tests, the first of which is to find me.