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5 July 2017

 

About My IGDA Vest – and My Final Day

As I reflect on my remarkable adventure of the past nearly 5 years as Executive Director of the IGDA, my thoughts focus on something very specific: my iconic IGDA vest that so many people have seen me wear at countless events, venues, gatherings, and classrooms around the world.

When I took the IGDA role, I wanted to wear something cooler than a typical corporate-type t-shirt, polo shirt or blouse when I represented the IGDA. Leveraging the skills of my amazing costume designer daughter, I asked Jonelle to craft three vests for me and I had the IGDA logo boldly embroidered on the front (along with my name and title) and a large logo on the back (the “target” on my back, as I often half-joked). Why a vest? As a kid growing up during the Apollo space program in the 1970’s – an episode of history that wholly captured my attention – I remembered seeing Gene Kranz who led NASA’s Mission Control center. He always wore a white vest and by doing so, everyone knew that he was the person in charge in the room (his white vest is now in the Smithsonian museum in Washington D.C.). Following on that inspiration, my IGDA vests were created and they were proudly worn at every official appearance I ever made as Executive Director.

On my final day as Executive Director during the week of 19 June 2017, I donned my IGDA vest for the very last time, as I was scheduled to speak to three classes of sixth graders at a local elementary school. On the surface, this was no different from the countless other times I’d worn the vest and spoken to a classroom, at a game industry event, or lectured in front of government officials in some distant locale. But I knew that as I spoke to the young students, this was not going to be a typical appearance.

I looked across the sea of young faces and I spoke to them about leveraging their creative inspirations, being passionate about what they do, learning to work together with other people, not being afraid to be different (e.g., be the diverse person in the room), and embracing their uniqueness as their superpower (e.g., shun impostor syndrome because every person’s approach is wholly unique to them). And as I did so, I couldn’t help but reflect on the myriad of faces I’d seen from the stage or front of a room as Executive Director; so many people, so many places, so many cultures, so much enthusiasm for this medium for which we share such great, unbridled passion. These kids were no different; almost all of them were fervent gamers and when I asked, at least a third of them expressed a desire to be a game developer.

As always, speaking to this age group is among the most fun things I ever do – the reactions, the questions, and the excitement they express of talking with someone with a game development career is priceless. Many of the questions focused on what games I’ve worked on, with some of my responses yielding gasps from the room (the “Halo” games easily received the most “Ooohs” and “Aaahhhs”). At one point, a student raised their hand simply to say, “I really like your cool vest!”, to which I proudly replied, as I always did, “Thank you, my daughter made it for me!”

After I was done speaking and as I was packing up my laptop, several students came up to me to try and squeeze in a final question as their classmates shuffled out of the room; it was usually another question about what games I did or did not work on in my 23+ year game industry career.

But when nearly all the students had left the room, a girl of South Asian background slowly approached me, and shyly asked me, “You made it sound like anyone can make video games. Is it true I can be a game developer?”

“Yes. Yes you can,” I replied with a big smile.

I went to my car, slowly took off my vest, slumped into the driver’s seat, and then cried as the sense of finality hit me. But as I worked to quickly regain my composure, that last girl’s question echoed in my head and I immediately started feeling more confident and resolute about the future.

And that’s when a long-realized truth became even clearer to me, something I tried to convey during my time leading the IGDA: I don’t need to wear a vest to inspire, guide, and help those around me pursue their game development dreams.

And neither do you.

Be mighty.

Kate Edwards

30 June 2017: On My Departure from the IGDA

Posted by on 4 July 2017 in Geogrify News | 0 comments

On My Departure from the IGDA In September 2012, I interviewed for the role of Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and commenced the role in December 2012. It is now June 2017, and I’m announcing that I have stepped aside so that another can continue the mission. In my very first blog post in the E.D. role, I began with the quote: “I will take the ring to Mordor,” in recognition of the monumental and challenging task ahead of me. I think it’s only fitting to close with another Tolkien...

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