Kim Allom, Producer

The thing hanging on the top of my desk is a sword gifted to me by Defiant for 2 years of service. A FRICKIN’ SWORD. How good’s that? Photo credit: Eliah Lillis

The thing hanging on the top of my desk is a sword gifted to me by Defiant for 2 years of service. A FRICKIN’ SWORD. How good’s that? Photo credit: Eliah Lillis

Kim Allom is all kinds of amazing. She's basically our own gaming hero - making her way in an industry that is traditionally oppressive to women and having a lot of fun as she goes. Read below to hear about all the interesting things she gets up to on the side. Thanks Kim, we love how passionate you are about entertaining and educating to make change.    

What do you do?

Hello! I’m the Producer for Defiant Development - a video game studio based in Brisbane, Australia. For a bit of extra fun I blurt out thoughts, anecdotes and personal experiences on sex through my feminist pursuit - Creature of Pleasure - on Instagram.

Do you have a maxim that you live and work by?

I have three!

  1. Work-life balance (know when one or the other needs a change).

  2. ‘Fail early, fail often but always fail forward’. Coined by American author, John C. Maxwell. The cliche of learning from and embracing mistakes, as well as avoiding ruts through perseverance has proven to be not only useful in operational situations, but also calms my anxieties. I expect that there may be some degree of failure when taking a stab at something new or something I’m not across yet, but because I want to do well, I’ll find out what went wrong and seek answers to avoid making the same mistake. Knowing that it’s okay to fail is key, but pushing through that failure gives you the keyhole.

  3. In the words of seduction queen, Dita Von Teese, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” This helps big-time when dealing with unsavoury behaviour from others that are out of my control. I may not be able to change someone else’s behaviour, but I can control my own composure. The trick for me is to do so without jeopardising dignity (e.g. reacting/retaliating in a damaging way) or integrity (e.g. changing my ideas to suit those of others that are not true to my own).   

What are the three milestones that have led you to where you stand?

Explore and Score. I dabbled in so many fields before I decided on sticking with a game design course at Queensland University of Technology. I tried business, law, communication, public relations and journalism. Some double degrees, some single. The main thing was that I felt that I needed to experience things before I committed. I’d grown up thinking that experience prevails all, so I was set on trying things out. I was three unfinished degrees deep when I watched an industry talk where a public relations professional spoke of how she worked for games companies, this moment sparked my love affair with game development. In true form, I put my degree on hold so I could get industry experience at Defiant and haven’t gone back to uni since.

Not all heroes wear capes. About mid-way through my first year of my games degree I came across a TED talk by Jane Mcgonigal. She spoke about how video games can make a better world and did so in a way that translated to both gamers and non-gamers. Using history, experiments and personal experience, Mcgonigal presented a rather convincing argument that appeared to make sense to a room of academics, journalists and other walks of life. From this video I experienced three things:  Established a hero, ignited a want for change and realised that I’d never felt so energetic and strongly focused about a topic, that’s when I knew my games degree was the one to stick with.

Befriend a connector. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the importance of connectors and the role connectors have in social constructs in his book, The Tipping Point. Connectors are people who know people who know people who know people. Not only are they good at knowing people, they are considered important by those people and will therefore be listened to when connectors have something to say. One of the friends I’d made during university happened to be a well connected connector and would siphon any important networking opportunities to me and talk of my course work and potential to anyone who would listen. One of those listeners was a very respected and reputed connector. That connector told me of a job that opened up at the studio I work at today.

What is your dream project?

I want to see change in big things. I want to see change in class, wealth distribution, gender equality and violence. I’m conscious and very aware that I’m not going to move mountains, but that ‘want’ is there. If you combine that want with the power of games through engaging systems, immersive narrative, interaction and connectedness, I feel it in my gut that games can inspire change. We’re starting to see more diverse content in popular games like same-sex relationships in Bioware’s Dragon Age. So my dream project would be to develop a game that entertains as much as it educates people on different cultures and social conditions that raise awareness to forms of oppression (e.g. sexism, classism, ableism…). I also would love to focus on a series of games that highlight sexuality, mostly to do with consent and exploration.

As a producer, I get to stick my fingers in many pies. Photo credit: all the gracious people who I’ve annoyed so I can post my experiences on the gram.

As a producer, I get to stick my fingers in many pies. Photo credit: all the gracious people who I’ve annoyed so I can post my experiences on the gram.

What is the best advice you’ve been given, or wish you had been told sooner?

Not everyone likes peaches!

What is one facet of your field that you want to see change? 

I definitely want to see more diversity in the workplace. Last year I attended a Women in Games event where one of the guest speakers - a game developer who worked on Assassin’s Creed - Brie Code, said “Diversity is not just the right thing to do, it’s a source of innovation”. If we get more diverse people in the workplace, we have the potential for some insane innovating. Innovative ideas can save money, change behaviours and inspire systematic change.

How can we find our more about your work?

For updates on Defiants’ shenanigans go to our Facebook page. You can also creep it real by lurking my personal instagram and twitter. Lastly, if you are interested in my feminist crass-sassin’ pursuits, check out Creature of Pleasure.

Chillin’ with the babin’ winners of MCV’s Asia Pacific 2015 Women in Games Awards. Photo credit: Thomas E. Graham

Chillin’ with the babin’ winners of MCV’s Asia Pacific 2015 Women in Games Awards. Photo credit: Thomas E. Graham

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

We’ve got two projects running simultaneously at the moment. Firstly, I’m so stoked that the team is currently working on the sequel to our rogue-like deckbuilder, Hand of Fate. We get a chance to master things that we didn’t necessarily have time to do first time around. The second project is a secret.

If you could choose to hear any female contemporary present at Make Nice, who would it be and why?

I would love to see either Felicia Day or Laci Green present at Make Nice. Felicia has a kickass tenure of geekery that is revered across different topics from filmmaking, acting and talking about pop culture AND she’s also a total stitch up.

Laci is a sex educator and total pro at intersectional feminism using YouTube as an outlet. She’s been snapped up by MTV to talk about, raise awareness and hopefully educate audiences on the importance of all things sex while presenting in a way that is a wonderful mix of crude, funny and welcoming.

Do you have a supportive female network in your field? Was it always this way?

Yes! There is a femme fatale, a babe brigade - if you will - of talented, experienced (and inexperienced) female game developers who regularly bring to light issues experienced in the game development world and beyond. It’s been an illuminating and invaluable resource that wasn’t always available and an absolute staple for any ladies in the games world or looking to be in it. If you want in on this action, fang me a message on Twitter!

What are you listening to, reading, watching of late, that is inspiring or entertaining you?

I am really terrible with books. When I try, I get ambitious and attempt to read multiple books at a time which doesn’t allow for focus or interest. BUT! The most recent books I’ve enjoyed/enjoying are So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson and - mentioned earlier - The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. They interest me because I feel they give context and access to language that is useful in my career as a game developer and to generally understand the world through contemporary thought. I’ve also recently watched Her which reminded me of how terrifyingly close we are to Spike Jonze’s future take on artificial intelligence.

 

Photo credit: Eliah Lillis

Photo credit: Eliah Lillis