There are age-old stereotypes that stick to certain professions: the scruffy academic, the mad scientist and well, gamers, the shy (male) loners who like dark spaces and virtual friends.
Meagan Budgell, George Brown College post-graduate Game Design alumna, 2016, is nominated as our design entrepreneur of the week for her work as a myth busting, entrepreneurial gamer.
Being a game entrepreneur might lead you to think that she is developing games. And she certainly has done that. However, her focus these days is developing community building events linking students with developers, creating networks and showing students how to pitch their work through her organization, Eat Play Mingle.
Eat Play Mingle was started by the global network, the International Game Developer Association (IGDA), as a way to bring together students from all over Toronto. With their support, Meagan has commercialized and transformed EPM into an events company as a first step towards her vision of becoming a not-for-profit organization.
We sat down and chatted with Meagan about the gaming industry
Myth #1 - Gamers are antisocial
With a background in software engineering, game programming and game design, Meagan speaks with confidence. She calls the anti-social gaming stereotype “an outdated myth.”
“Gamers learn and master highly prized social skills like teamwork, communication and goal setting both while they are playing and while they are building the games. Developing games is highly collaborative and because of the range of skills required from art to programming; it just cannot be done alone.”
Myth #2 - Games are for boys only!
Meagan freely admits that she has often been the only female in the room but, at the same time, says that there has never been a better time for women in gaming, particularly in Toronto. “We were missing role models. There are veteran women gamers out there but we just don’t see enough of them. In all of my schooling, I have never had a female teacher.”
However, thanks to the emphasis on STEAM and STEM goals in high school, she has seen change taking place. According to Meagan, “Just in the past 2 to 3 years, and now with Melinda Gates tackling this challenge of young women and technology, we have more accurate data about the sector. We have proof that women are a minority. You still need to fight to get your voice heard. It is a struggle, but if you are passionate there is nothing stopping you.”
Myth #3 - It’s too hard to be a game entrepreneur
According to Meagan, “Right now, Toronto is the hottest indie gaming hub. It is a great town for this, with a tight knit community.” There are lots of schools, lots of studios, grants and scholarships all adding up to opportunity and buzz. Meagan’s advice for young gamers is straightforward: build your network, volunteer at conferences and events, get your degree, and build an elevator pitch. And if you are stuck, channel a little Meagan by repeating her words, “I don’t sit around and plan it. I just do it.”
There is so much more to say about Meagan but really, you should just come on out to
Eat Play Mingle - November 18 at George Brown College, 7 - 10pm at 230 Richmond Street and meet her for yourself!
Photography I Shing Leung