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An Interview With Meagan Marie - Part 1 of 3: The Games Industry -

An Interview With Meagan Marie – Part 1 of 3: The Games Industry

 

Meagan Marie chose to base her
Two-Face costume off of the animated
series rather than any of the movies.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Crystal Dynamics Community Manager Meagan Marie. While she's only been with Crystal Dynamics for a few months, Marie has worked in the video game industry for several years. Readers may know her best for her three-year stint as an associate editor for Game Informer.

You may have seen her before. Marie is a talented and well-known cosplayer. Her work has been featured on sites like Kotaku and in the charity calendar “Cosplay for a Cause.”
 
During the interview, Marie shared her perspective as a woman working in the games industry, some of her experiences while cosplaying and a little insider information about the upcoming Tomb Raider game.
 
PP: You recently got back from the San Diego Comic Con. How was it? Do you have any interesting stories?
 
MM: Comic Con was fantastic. I love the convention. I've been going for five years, and every year it just seems to get bigger and better. The funny thing is whenever I go to Comic Con, I don't usually get to see much… When you're in costume, you kind of get tied to the show floor and you get stopped for photos and all that.
 
Not only did she get the armor down pat,
Marie understands and appreciates
a good curb stomp.
My Anya [Stroud] costume was extremely well received, which I was so excited about because I worked on it for six months. [The reception to] Two-Face surprised me because that was a costume I put together in about one month before Comic Con. Two-Face came down to the makeup, whether it would come off right or not, so I didn't tell anyone about it. People really liked it! People just really, really seemed to appreciate the work that the makeup artist I hired did.
 
It was just kind of crazy the amount of attention that it got. From a personal standpoint, I love the fact that a kind of grotesque costume got as much attention as some of the sexier costumes out there.
 
When I was wearing Anya, I was actually able to go and hang out with Cliff and the guys from Epic. It was awesome because back when I was at Game Informer, I was one of the people on the Gears of War 3 cover trip for the reveal. I was one of the first people in the world to know that Anya would be “geared” up in her armor, and that she would be a combatant.
 
They did the trike reveal, the custom [American] Chopper that was made. I got to take some photos in front of it. It was a very cool feeling to sit there with the creators and friends and have them appreciate [my] work. It's a good feeling.
 
PP: Awesome. We've talked about cosplay a little bit, I'd like to take a step back. From more a professional side, you mentioned you worked at Game Informer. You were an associate editor. Were you happy in that role?
 
MM: Oh yes, absolutely! I really can't say anything bad about Game Informer. It was literally my dream job. I read the magazine for years and years and years growing up. One day I looked at it, and I realized the mailing address was from Minneapolis. I'm from 20 minutes north of Minneapolis.
 
I made up my mind. I thought “I love video games. I love this magazine. I'm going to work for them someday!” I went to school and basically catered my degree toward working at Game Informer. I went to school for graphic design and journalism. I was always very artistic, and I need an artistic outlet, but I also like to write. I went for both and figured I'd apply for a graphic design position and an editorial position and see how it goes.
 
Two years into school, I actually applied for a position at Game Informer and was shot down by Andy [McNamara], the editor in chief. He said “Finish school and apply when you're done.” I was heartbroken. I thought “Oh, that was my shot at my dream job. I'll never get it again.”
 
I applied again two days after I graduated and harassed them. I went to GDC (Game Developer's Conference) and thought “[Game Informer] isn't going to happen. Maybe I should look at doing a UI (user interface) for a game company.” Then they called me back, and I got the job. I was just elated. My experience at Game Informer was fantastic.
 
I sound so spoiled, but I think there was nothing that could have pulled me away from Game Informer other than Lara Croft. More than I wanted to work at Game Informer, when I was a kid I literally wanted to be Lara Croft. If there was anything that could make me leave Game Informer and that team and environment it was her. I like to think that Lara Croft and [the Tomb Raider] games kind of helped shape me into who I am when I was growing up. When I was given the opportunity to return the favor and help shape Lara's future, I couldn't turn that down.
 
PP: If you wanted to be Lara Croft, you've certainly come very close with some of her outfits.
 
MM: I know, but I need to pack on some muscles and take some firearm training. Who knows? Maybe next year (laughs).
 
PP: You mentioned on your tumblr that you needed to work extra hard as a woman to be taken seriously in the video game field. When you were initially getting started, do you think your gender made it more difficult? Do you think that in some ways it made it easier because it's a field where not a lot of women work? Do you think maybe it wasn't much of an issue at all?
 
MM: I think it's a little of both. At Game Informer, I would like to think and I firmly believe that I wasn't hired because I was the best female candidate; I was hired because I was the best candidate. I don't think that was an issue there, but there's definitely some pros and cons to it, without a doubt.
 
Being a female in the industry, because you're a minority, you stand out more. It was easier for developers to remember my name. They remembered me, but they might not have remembered some of my male co-workers as well.
 
At the same time, I did struggle a little bit. There weren't really any barriers that kept me from working my way up in the industry, but there were a lot of little instances of not being taken seriously or being questioned in a demeaning manor without them realizing it. It's a back-handed compliment when people say things like “Were you hired to be the pretty face?”
 
Thanks, but the fact that you don't take my position seriously and you don't think that I belong to be here–that's kind of an offensive way to put it. People would question how I got my job, asking if I deserved it or if I was hired to fill some kind of quota, which is never the instance.
 
I had to work harder to prove myself, but the opportunities were there. I don't think that I was ever outright denied an opportunity.
It's a little of both. You're more visible in the industry because you are a female and you are a minority, but you're probably questioned more too.
 
PP: That makes sense. Do you have any advice for people who would like to work in the video game industry? Do you have any advice specifically for women?
 
MM: In general for anyone who wants to be in the industry, it's funny how far passion goes and how evident it is. I think that the industry sort of weeds out people who aren't cut out for it on its own. It's an extremely, extremely demanding industry. People who are so passionate about it, who want it and work hard for it, they naturally rise to the top. Their resumes naturally rise to the top of the pile.
 
Having known that I wanted to work in the industry for years and years, I had the opportunity to tailor pretty much every project. I tailored everything I could toward video games. Whether it was a senior ethics project on video game legislation, or a sculpture project where I made a warp tube [from Super Mario Bros.], I tailored my portfolio to show my passion for the industry. It gave me a major foothold into the industry and to being taken seriously.
 
If you know what you want to do, take advantage of it early. You're never too young to start inquiring about educational internships, or visits to offices to tour and ask questions.
 
As far as securing a job, it's kind of unfortunate. College students are always broke, but I can't stress enough the value of getting out and traveling and networking. Getting in front of people, shaking their hands and handing them a business cards is a lot more memorable than sending an email which could get lost in the clutter. Making a personal connection, having a conversation and showing that enthusiasm and passion is worth so much more than just an email.
 
Emails do have their places. Following up and being persistent is necessary, but networking, getting to GDC and going to the job fair is imperative.
 
Specifically for women, I would say that in my personal instances, being slightly more assertive is generally a good thing. You need to show that you can “keep up with the guys” and that you have that knowledge and you know what you're doing. It's unfortunate that these things might be necessary, but you need to make it instantly obvious that this is where you need to be – commanding a room.
 
It's good advice for everyone, actually. Learn to command a room and show that this is where you belong, and this is what you want.
 
Like I said, networking is important. I wasn't looking for another job when I was approached about Tomb Raider. I was as happy as a clam at Game Informer, but because I always try to put my best foot forward, I made a positive impression with Crystal Dynamics when I wrote that Tomb Raider cover story.
 
Even if you're happy were you are, approach every opportunity as a chance to put your best foot forward. You never know when another opportunity will come knocking.

 

Read Part 2 of the interview here, where Meagan talks more about her cosplay experience.

 

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