Insights

Women in gaming: Interview with Audio Director at Soundcuts

Article written by Andy Turton, Director of X4 Technology.

From game design and animation to testing and audio, the gaming industry hosts an array of career opportunities and is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK.

The industry has proven its resilience, with 10 times more gaming companies hiring right now than there are making redundancies. But despite this, there is a lack of gender diversity, with women making up just 20% of the global workforce in the gaming industry.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Adele Cutting, BAFTA award-winning audio director and founder of Soundcuts, to find out more about her career journey in this fast growing industry. Having worked in the gaming industry since the mid-nineties and after 15 years working for Electronic Arts, Adele set up her own audio company, Soundcuts, who have worked with the likes of Microsoft, Nickelodeon, Frontier Developments and Ubisoft.

Check out the interview below.

What attracted you to the gaming industry?

I fell into it. I loved (and still love) designing soundtracks and working with animation, as you have to create the entire soundtrack from scratch. I trained at the NFTS and EA contacted them to ask if anyone was interested in coming in on a short-term contract to tracklay cutscenes (the linear sections of the game – basically just like an animation), which I was really excited about. Once there, I learnt about the interactive sound element.

What has kept me in the gaming industry is the ability to tell stories and the technology, the tools that enable us to get better quality interactive audio and audio experiences in the game. Every game has different technology and it’s an industry that is constantly changing, improving and evolving, so there is always something new to try with your next project.

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur and start your own business?

Whilst in-house running an audio team, I really felt that we could work just as efficiently if we were an outsourcing team. For a long time, I’d been toying with the idea of starting my own company, an ‘audio team’ that game developers could hire. EA closed our studio and so, this gave me the opportunity to do that.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

There have been so many satisfying moments! Hiring my first full member of staff, which was quite a big step. Winning our first industry award for Audio Creative Services, which was amazing! I felt the company was finally on the map. Every time a client comes back for return business makes me incredibly proud of the team we’ve created at Soundcuts.

Women make up just 20% of the worldwide workforce in the gaming industry. Do you feel efforts to improve female representation are starting to build momentum?

Yes, I’m surprised you say it’s only 20% as it does feel more than that but then I started work in the industry when it was around 3%-5%. Game Developers and Publishers do advertise and encourage women to come into the industry and apply for positions, and the industry also has women specific groups, forums and events.

I think we need to take action earlier and the industry needs to be talking more with schools. I think it’s important that women in games and other tech industries go into schools and speak with the children before any subject options are chosen. Girls in school need to see female role models working in the industry, be actively encouraged to take part in STEM subjects and be encouraged to play games. In many schools the majority of teachers are females, so I don’t believe they think about other professions where females are in the minority, because that is not their experience. The Education system and the Games Industry need to work together.

What advice would you give to a female professional considering working in the gaming industry?

Is it a job you want to do? Then do it. Being female is not a barrier to working in the gaming sector, your skill, knowledge and passion are most important. If you are worried about being a female in a male dominated industry, be part of the movement to change that.

There are lots of women and men who will support you. You will also find female mentors you can talk to. There are lots of support networks, such as:

There are networks for other disciplines too. Putting the G into Gaming is an organisation whose focus is to attract women from outside the industry into Games and support women already in the industry. Girls Make Games, is another really great program for young girls and Bafta Games is another group working hard to push for equality in the industry. This is not an exhaustive list…There is support out there for you.

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