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WomANZ Spotlight: New Zealand Geo-Organiser SamKayNZ

3 April 2019

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We had the opportunity to catch up with SamKayNZ one of our New Zealand Geo-Organisers!

I am a 25 year old designer and gamer who spends her days making the world a more beautiful and user friendly place, one pixel at a time, as a UI/UX Designer. Sam describes herself as a ‘doer’ and is passionate about design, music, gaming, streaming and pet bothering. In Sams heaven there are copious amounts of coffee and chocolates.

How are you involved in gaming/esports/content creation?

Sam: I’ve always been interested in the gaming industry but my career post-university has kind of lead me away from it.

My degree project in my final year of my Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design, was a 2D platformer that I coded and completed the art myself, and I studied 3D modeling in a gaming context to learn more about the logistics of 3D games. I’ve taken part in seven Global Games Jams over the years because I love creating and love the 48 hour hustle (we even managed to win our Jam site trophy this year!).

Now, along with taking on the WomANZ Geo Champion role, I’m also volunteering as Communications Manager for University of Waikato esports, the formed gaming club at The University of Waikato (my old haunt).

How did you get into gaming/esports/content creation? How did it all start for you?

Sam: I guess I’ve been playing games as long as I can remember. I was the youngest of four siblings so four year old me would get to jump in on Goldeneye 007 split screen when I was too young to understand what I was doing. From there I was hooked on Croc, Zelda, Final Fantasy, Tomba, Crash, Baldur’s Gate, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Halo… The list could go on forever!

I didn’t start sharing my passion for gaming on Twitch until 2017 and like things have grown from there. I have a great community around me who have remained active in my stream Discord despite me being on hiatus (until I can buy my first home and a better internet connection haha). They’re actually the best and fuel my desire to stream again.

What advice would you have for people looking to get into a position like yours? Do you have any words of encouragement?

Sam: It’s not very original, but I would say ‘follow your passions’ and try remain open to new experiences. If what you’re doing/pursuing feels more like an ‘eternal grind’ and less like a ‘stepping stone in the right direction’ then you’re not doing it for the right reasons or at it’s core, you would find more fulfillment doing something else and there is nothing wrong with changing your path at any stage in life!

What do you think the landscape is like now for women in esports/gaming/content creation?

Sam: To be frank, there are still many struggles.

Sexism, objectification, harassment and lack of respect (among others) are all themes that you may face as a woman in esports, gaming and content creation. But even in adversity there are huge positives coming out of the industries. Woman banding together and supporting each other, fostering community and kindness, as well as a shift in the mindset of our pairs. A sensitivity and understanding is forming for how women should be treated as equals – all because of more exposure! Exposure is key to normalizing women in the industry and improving our experiences.

Do you think there are any barriers to entry for women within the esports/gaming/content creation industry at the moment?

Sam: There are three key barriers. Fear, uncertainty and bias.

  • Fear manifests itself as a lack of belief or confidence in oneself. Taking the leap into a career that is not ‘typical’ for a woman can be a scary feat.
  • Uncertainty comes from not having or knowing a clear path to take. Although there are more women now than there ever have been in the esports/gaming/content creation industries, this is all recent history.
  • Bias speaks for itself. I don’t even want to delve too into it because like this is already a novel, but bias from prospective employers will only hold woman back.

Who is a woman within this industry who inspires you?

Sam: It might seem strange to name someone I don’t know particularly well on a personal level, but fellow WomANZ NZ Geo-Champion Amy is a huge inspiration to me. I catch updates on Twitter of her involvement with esports, content creation, and much more and I am blown away. She is a great example of someone pushing themselves to follow their passions and we should all be very proud to have her representing us as a woman in the industry.

What do you like about the WomANZ community and what does it mean to you?

Sam: I have so much love for WomANZ and can’t express enough how amazing the ladies are that run everything. For me, it’s the first group of it’s kind that I’ve come across where connected with the other members. Regardless of our backgrounds, we all share common experiences, struggles and goals that tie us together.

What are you excited about about being a Geo Organiser for WomANZ?

Sam: I’m excited to be involved with the WomANZ team, working towards something much bigger than myself. I want to encourage our kiwi girls in their goals while cultivating a community of kind streamers and gamers.

Keep updated with SamKayNZ:

Instagram: SamKayNZ

Twitter: @SamKayNZ

Twitch: SamKayNZ

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