What are you working on?
Taking all of the work I have done to date and properly documenting it in my PhD thesis presently is the focus of my attention. I’m also working on a machine learning tool called InteractML, which is an open source asset for Unity. Also, I’m getting ready to launch an online class for Future Learn for our non-profit, Code Liberation in collaboration with the Creative Computing Institute at University of the Arts, London. On the slow burn, I am thinking of how I can refine my games, which are largely physical interfaces.
How did you get into your current field?
I was born at the right place at the right time. Getting a programming job in the 90’s was easy. Did you have a pulse and could write a hello world script? That was the bar. It’s much more competitive now so I’m not sure my advice is useful. I just fell into these nonsense by following my nose and doing things that interested me with technology all my life. I get bored easily if I am under stimulated. I’m constantly looking for challenges and trying new things, I just look for natural alignments with my workplace.
You've built and been involved in many, diverse communities. Why is building community so important?
If you don’t build community, you work alone. I hate working alone. It’s selfish. I want friends and people to collaborate with. If I can’t find a community, I’ll create one. It’s not altruism - don’t be fooled.
What are your goals?
Mainly, I want to finish my PhD this year and bring my online presence to date with all the work I have done over the past few years. I’m also trying to get better with my finances and start saving for retirement.
Do you have a mentor?
I’ve had several friends who I would loosely consider places I would turn for advice, and I had a formal mentor through my last job. She was incredible in helping me feel validated in what was the most toxic environment I ever worked in. Oddly my job hired her because I was having “problems.” She came in and realized those problems were as a result of being discriminated against and she took it to HR. She ended up being more of an advocate in a dark place and helped me to realize the extent to which I was being gaslit on a day to day basis.
Do you mentor anyone?
SO. MANY. PEOPLE. NOT. ENOUGH. TIME. I mentor lots of folks. I really enjoy it.
What could the tech/games industry do to better foster female talent?
Well, to start with, hire women. Pay women. Promote women. Fire men who are aggressive and hostile to their presence. Also, by more fully creating an inclusive environment, companies would support women because the more diverse a workplace, the more healthy it is, statistically. All you have to do to fix sexism is just take action. It’s that easy.
What advice would you give to people getting into your field?
Run screaming. I’m kidding, but not really. The industry is a constant dumpster fire for human rights. Are you sure you want to do this? Do you want to do it with every fiber of your being? If not, it’s much easier to get paid doing about anything else. If this is your dream, I would suggest you put out as many smaller projects as you can. The more you can tell your story and share your vision, the better luck you will have finding friends and becoming part of the community. This is a giant in club. Games, more than any other field I have been in, is all about who you know and who respects you. You must make going to events, networking, and releasing work part of your routine.
Whats the best and worst advice you have received?
I’m not sure. I could really use more of it. The best information comes to me more the form of conversations about what I am working on and ways to approach it.
Who do you follow? What blogs do you read?
I don’t read blogs often. I have too many books, private chat groups, and papers in my life as it is. I generally encourage everyone here to spend no more than 20 minutes a day on the Internet. It’s toxic. I’m a fan of magazines, podcasts, and news letters though. The only things I check out regularly are 99% Invisible, Reply All, The Intercept, Radiolab, the Nautilus, Aeon, and Brain Pickings.
What’s the best way to keep up to date with what you’re doing?I’m working on that. Follow me on twitter. @phoenixperry. Hopefully, my website will get an overhaul this year.