“I want people to trust that I will work on their behalf.”-Brenda Bailey
With training in business and law, a background in social work, and a degree in Arabic, Brenda Bailey has followed a unique career path. “Everyone expected me to do typically female jobs, when really, I should have been a technologist right from the start. But we didn’t know about those opportunities.”
Brenda grew up in a small town on Vancouver Island. “In the early 80s, arcades were all the rage. I think the arcade was a really integral part of growing up in a small town at that time. It’s something we did with our friends; it was our community.”
Back then, it never felt odd to Brenda to be a girl playing video games – it wasn’t seen as a male space, but that changed with the onset of first-person shooter games. “I don’t believe video gaming is an innately male space – I think it’s been a reflection of who’s making the video games rather than an innate desire to play them.” With that in mind, she set out to change the types of games being made by going into the video game business. “I wanted to build high quality games for girls, but it was tough as there weren’t a lot of concepts being developed.”
After working with several startups in the interactive digital media space, Brenda was asked to lead DigiBC, an umbrella association that supports people working in video games, animation, visual effects, augmented and virtual reality. It’s an amazing time in the interactive digital media world right now, and there’s been incredible growth in the digital media space because there’s so much technology and so many technologists coming outof the video game industry.
Video games are no longer something that you need to access at your local arcade – the technology is in your pocket.There’s more ability to make and deliver games than ever before, and that gives rise to new voices. “It’s now about discoverability. The market is saturated with so much product that we need to help those diverse stories come forward.”
Getting young people involved in technology, and helping stories be told, is what’s fueling Brenda now. She’s trying to incentivize the creation of intellectual property here in B.C., and she’s focusing on empowering and equipping the next generation. She’s exposing students to the plethora of opportunities that exist within B.C.’s interactive digital media space. “If it’s art you’re interested in, become an animator. If you’re a natural leader, become a producer.”
There are opportunities for musicians, mathematicians, even those kids who maybe don’t fit into any place yet.” What’s really exciting for Brenda though is the number of women leading this space to move forward. “If you look at the leaders in Vancouver’s technology and creative industries, it’s amazing – I’ve never seen so many women! So is it really a surprise then that the different tech industries are working together more and more, and collaborating? I don’t think so,” she says with a smile.