Through Circuit at Wysing and Kettle’s Yard we have begun exploring the role of galleries and museums as a creative interface between young people and the digital sector. We are encouraging new ways to equip our diverse group of young people with the creative skills needed to become part of the digital and hi-tech industries. We are developing partnerships with Cambridge’s digital industry and we have been working with local ex games developer Ramin Zaghi to build up these relationships.
In this blog, Ramin reflects on how his personal experience of a career in the digital sector matches some of the Circuit programme aims.
Three of my experiences that match Circuit, by Ramin Zaghi
The first is a story about a games company. Many years ago, I worked for a games company in Sheffield, UK – Sumo Digital – which is a well known independent game development company amongst those familiar with this industry and also a long standing business known to the locals. After the huge success stories coming out of this company, the city council decided to put up a big display of the art works created by the company for their games opposite the Sheffield train station. It not only made Sumo’s staff proud, but it was also a reminder for the locals of how the works of one of the small local businesses were being used and enjoyed by so many world wide.
The second is a story about networking. During the time I was an undergraduate student in London, I found myself struggling to meet potential employers to learn what they were looking for. In particular, I had tried to get into a company twice before and unfortunately they had not even replied to my applications. It took me many attempts and eventually a very expensive ticket to an industry exhibition where I met two very well established and respected British companies. It was only then I got the chance to ask them this simple question: ‘How can I get a job with you?’. I had the required level of technical skills and the experience and had tried a few times but it was only one of these conversations, which took someone less than 60 seconds to spell out, that led me to actually landing the job I was looking for. It’s no different today. Unfortunately, even though 50% of every game company in the world is formed of artists most people, most families and even most artists out there have no clue where and how an artist fits in when a game is being made. Ask any one how does an artist make a living these days and they might mention acting, singing, making music, graphic design or in some cases by gaining world wide fame. Well, guess what, if we exclude graphic design, I bet there are as many artists (if not more) who work in the games industry as there are in all the rest of these sectors combined.
The third is a story about diversity. When I joined a much larger tech company, I heard the HR departments talking about the issues of diversity which I had also seen in the gaming sector. The most obvious case is the in-proportionate number of male employees to females. Everybody wants to hire more females. We even have organisations such as the UK Interactive Entertainment association (UKIE) with programs dedicated to changing the diversity issues within specific sectors such as gaming.
So, going back to Circuit, I am hoping you can begin to see the relation.
Circuit could provide a platform between the local communities and larger or smaller companies that operate out of local offices – a platform where the amazing works created inside these companies are displayed and shared with the local communities in the form of art work, exhibitions or other mediums – and who says that Circuit‘s audience of 15 to 25 year olds couldn’t manage it all by themselves?
Circuit could provide a platform to raise awareness of what happens inside businesses and companies and of how they operate to provide opportunities for networking and in general connecting businesses with their local communities for the benefit of the audiences of this program as well as the industry. The more people know about what a business does the more the chances the business can find employees (in particular from their local community).
Last but not least, having seen that most of the audience are females, Circuit could be the place where we begin to address the gender gap and other issues related to diversity at work place. The problem of diversity needs to be and will be addressed by helping the youth who have the chance to change their future.
Ramin Zaghi is an ex-games-developer and currently works at ARM Ltd., an international microprocessor design company headquartered in Cambridge, UK.