Women of GlobalStep: Meet Jennifer Schelling, Vice President of Marketing

In honor of Women’s History Month, in the following weeks we will be sharing stories of some of the amazing women who work at GlobalStep. Today, we are featuring Jennifer Schelling’s story, who joined in February 2022 as Vice President of Marketing. Jennifer is currently located in New York. What follows is a Q&A edited for clarity and length.  

Why did you choose to work in the video game industry?    

I did not actively seek a job in the video game industry, but I’m absolutely thrilled to have landed at GlobalStep. My husband is an avid gamer and he knows a tremendous amount about the industry. He will frequently hear me on conference calls and slip me a note with a question I should ask or a point I should make. I love having someone to help me understand the industry better and bounce ideas off of. 

But more importantly, my stepson Ryan lived and breathed video games. He would play games on the ride to school each morning – and then race home after school to continue playing. Homework and dinner were an inconvenience to him as they took time away from gaming each evening. Sadly, my stepson passed away suddenly in October 2020. When I was offered this job, there was no question that I would take it. I consider it a tribute to Ryan. A way for me to embrace and immerse myself in an industry that was so incredibly important to him. And I’m honored to do so. 

What is your background (in gaming, or elsewhere)? 

I spent 21 years with Cognizant in various roles within marketing. I have a passion for events and spent many years planning, organizing, and executing their largest annual C-level event, which drew 500+ attendees. My last role with Cognizant was managing Diversity & Inclusion marketing, which is a role you don’t see often. However, due to my extended time there, I was excited to share Cognizant’s story about our growth, the employee resource groups we established, and ensure that we recognized the many holidays around the world that celebrate diversity.   

Do you play video games? If yes, what are some of your favorite games? 

I grew up with two brothers playing games that were popular in the 1980s. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Super Mario Brothers were some of my favorites, but I never considered myself an active gamer. Now, with a full-time job and a family, I don’t make the time for playing games like I did in my teens. I’m currently obsessed with Wordle and Quordle, but I don’t think true gamers would consider those video games! 

Do you have a preference between PC, mobile, and other consoles? 

Any games I play are played on my mobile device. I play Wordle and Quordle first thing each morning and may play another game or two before bed. Most of the games I play involve words: word finds, word scrambles, crossword puzzles, etc.   

If you had to recommend other women to get into gaming, what would your advice be? 

The games industry tends to be male dominated. My advice to women would be not to be intimidated. One of my key takeaways through my work with diversity and inclusion is that women need to use their voice more. We have a different perspective than our male counterparts, and it’s important that the industry incorporate the thoughts and opinions of all genders. To the women interested in working in gaming: be confident, use your voice, and own your opinion.   

Who inspires you in life? 

That’s a tough one.  I’m incredibly fortunate to have so many amazing people in my life. My teenage girls (ages 18 and 16) inspire me with their energy and determination. They are both three-sport athletes. My older daughter is a college freshman who was recruited to play lacrosse. My younger daughter is a high school junior who was recruited to play lacrosse in the fall of 2023. Their diligence and determination on and off the field inspire me tremendously. 

My husband is also a true inspiration. When you have someone in your life who loves you unconditionally and who supports you every step of the way – no questions asked – it makes you want to be a better person. Through triumph and tragedy, he has shown me the meaning of family, love, and strength.   

Can you tell me about your role specifically? 

I studied marketing in college and have never deviated from marketing in my career. I enjoy marketing because there are so many facets to it. The events aspect of marketing has always been my passion, but I also enjoy all of the other facets: content creation, website design, social media, videos and podcasts, etc. Marketing is all about understanding the wants and needs of the consumer – and I very much enjoy learning how people think, understanding why they choose one product over another – and then creating a compelling experience that resonates with them. It’s incredibly important to love what you do – and I absolutely do. 

This piece is part of a series of interviews GlobalStep is conducting to showcase the talent and expertise of the wonderful women working at our organization. 

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Women of GlobalStep: Meet Elaine Soares, Director of HR in Montreal

In honor of Women’s History Month, in the following weeks we will be sharing stories of some of the amazing women who work at GlobalStep. Today, we are featuring Elaine Soares’ story, who joined in January 2022 as the Director of Human Resources in Montreal, Canada. What follows is a Q&A edited for clarity and length. 

  1. Why did you choose to work in the video game industry?

Actually, it’s the first time for me working in the gaming industry. I have a lot of experience in the IT industry, in Services and Digital Marketing. It’s a very entertaining and fast-paced industry. Through my previous work, I had several contacts and opportunities to collaborate with the gaming industry, which is very strong in Montreal. We worked with some very talented people. My previous director was a former employee at GlobalStep, so when she knew that they were looking for someone, she introduced us. And I think that more than the gaming aspect, it was the approach at GlobalStep that drew me in.

  • Can you tell me more about your background?

My background is not in gaming, though I really enjoy this industry and find it very dynamic.

Today, I’m in charge of HR in Montreal. My background is in psychology. I have an MBA in HR and I have been working in HR for the last 20 years.

  • Do you play any video games?

Truth be told, I don’t. But I do have a big gamer at home: he loves hockey! He just loves playing hockey on the PlayStation.

  • What would your advice be for women entering the video game industry?

I think that in order to enjoy working in this industry, you have to enjoy working in a very fast-speed environment. And, in an environment that requires a lot of confidentiality. It’s interesting, because while we’re working and collaborating with very big brands and hugely known franchises operating worldwide, we cannot publish that.

I think this is the perfect place for technical women who enjoy working in places where they feel comfortable preparing and organizing things ahead of time. If you want to be ahead of what’s going on, this is the place for you. For many employees, this is part of the motivation behind their work. When we are set to release something on the market in six months, many of our employees have already tested and are familiar with the game or product. It’s a very dynamic and exciting environment, and it’s very diverse, which is super interesting. In this industry, you have the opportunity to work with leading gaming industries worldwide, but you have to be conscious of confidentiality.

  • Who inspires you in life?

I could go for the big names, celebrities that I resonate with and relate to. But I’d rather talk about someone I am very close to, my father. I got my values from his example in life. He taught me so much. I also had some amazing bosses and colleagues I worked with, and they became amazing coaches and mentors, leading by example. On a personal level, my father taught me a lot, and on a professional level, I had two former HR executives, who were incredibly knowledgeable but also so very humble. They are now my friends, and part of my personal life. They were my bosses, and now, we are friends. We give each other advice and support each other. Today, I see them at global conferences, and it feels surreal that they used to be my bosses and managers.

  • What would you tell women who would like to explore a role or industry that is traditionally male dominated, like gaming?

Do not feel intimidated. It can be intimidating, stepping into an industry where the majority of employees are male. Don’t be intimidated. Forget everything that anyone might have told you. You are capable the same way as anyone else. So just go for it. And do not listen to the people who try to demotivate you.

  • Why did you choose your role, specifically? And what is different about HR in the gaming industry versus the industries you were working in before?

I think that the most important thing is to understand what’s important in this industry and which elements you should become more familiar with in order to be successful.

For me, I keep asking what do I specifically need to understand in gaming?  What is the best business acumen that I have to acquire in order to succeed with my expertise? If I do not understand the needs of my business partners, and if I cannot understand when a client has a last-minute request that arrives in my department, it’s just a cascade effect if it’s not handled properly.

I want to be able to adapt myself, my deliveries, my team, in order to respond to my business partners’ needs, and automatically, indirectly, we want to respond to our clients’ needs. Right now, we are talking about gaming, but before I worked for four years in a digital marketing industry, and I remember while being there, I knocked at the Deputy Director’s door, and asked to tell me about our industry. What do we do? What’s our challenges and who are our competitors? You know, just to contextualize our case. So that’s what’s important for us here.

I think that that’s the tip, bring the questions, knock on the technical doors and ask them. They are so generous, they love what they do. The same way that it is a pleasure for me to talk about HR, it is a pleasure for them to talk about gaming. Our deliveries, what we need, our challenges. The key, I think, is to bring the questions.

This piece is part of a series of interviews GlobalStep is conducting to showcase the talent and expertise of the wonderful women working at our organization. 

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NFTs, Blockchain, and the Future of Gaming

Breeding digital cats can earn their owners thousands of dollars? Gamers can earn a living buying, battling, and spawning digital monsters? By combining gaming, NFTs, and the blockchain, this reality is very much true. 

Cryptokitties and Axie Infinity are just two examples of how NFTs and blockchain are changing the world of gaming as we speak.  

However, it is still early dawn for these emerging technologies. Today, we’ll be diving deep into this topic and how NFTs and blockchain have massive implications for the gaming industry by enabling true digital ownership over virtual property.  

First off, let’s answer some questions you might have. 

What Is Blockchain?  

Also known as distributed ledger technology (DLT), a blockchain is essentially a record that anyone can add to, nobody can change, and that isn’t controlled by any person or entity.  

The fundamental concept of blockchain is a ledger with multiple digital copies spread out over multiple locations. These locations are called nodes, which often refer to individual computers with copies of the ledger. 

This is why blockchain is decentralized: no one person or entity has control over the information kept in the record. The information is instead distributed among the many nodes making up the network. 

Blockchain also helps to track assets easily. An asset can be either tangible or intangible: in the former case, we’re talking about anything like a house, a car, or cash. In the latter case, we’re talking about intellectual property, copyrights, etc.  

What makes blockchain unique is that virtually anything can be tracked and traded on a blockchain network, which reduces risk and cuts costs for everyone involved. 

“The whole point of using a blockchain is to let people — in particular, people who don’t trust one another — share valuable data in a secure, tamperproof way.” 

— MIT Technology Review 

What Are NFTs? 

While most digital tokens are fungible (every token is the same as every other token), non-fungible tokens are all unique. Think of them like rare, one-of-a-kind collectibles. NFTs can be traded across different blockchain protocols and between users themselves. NFT transactions can be programmed onto both traditional blockchains (e.g. Ethereum) and NFT-specific blockchains (e.g. ERC721).  

The NFT standard is the way blockchain-based assets are represented digitally — therefore, NFTs can be used for anything that can be digitally represented (e.g. digital art, music, video game character skins, in-game assets such as weapons and equipment). NFT game items give gamers ownership over their virtual goods and allow them to trade freely via NFT marketplaces on blockchain protocols.  

What Role are NFTs Play in the Gaming Industry? 

CryptoKitties, first released in November 2017, was one of the earliest blockchain gaming applications released out into the wild. It allowed users to breed and collect digital cats, each with their own unique NFT identifiers known as cattributes. Each cat had different cattributes based on its genetics (e.g., eye colour and fur length). CryptoKitties peaked at nearly $12 million dollars traded within its first month of release.  

Another early example of blockchain gaming is Spells of Genesis, which is an NFT-powered trading card game that was built using the blockchain platform developed by EverdreamSoft called BitCrystals. The mission behind SoG was to merge NTF technology with existing gaming mediums such as trading cards and role-playing games, forming one cohesive gaming system. NFTs, in this instance, are used to enhance the game itself by allowing players to make purchases with their NFT cards within the game (rather than using fiat currencies).  

As NFT adoption has grown among game developers, gamers have started to see NFT trading implemented directly into their favorite games. NFT-based projects that allow gamers to use NFTs to provide new avenues for gaming experiences have already been developed, such as blockchain-based player-vs.-player battles and NFT-storefronts where players can purchase NFTs from other gamers.  

One of these games is Thetan Arena. This is a blockchain-based game that allows users to battle each other for control of the Thetan blockchain. Players can use NFTs to represent their troops, and the victor of each battle will take over the NFTs of the defeated player. 

Moreover, NFTs can also be used to purchase in-game items and upgrades. Thetan Arena officially launched in November 2021. In the first seven days, it accumulated a total of 3 million registered users and has since achieved #1 on App Store in 11 countries with over 6 million registered users. 

However, it’s not just indie developers who are powering this new wave of games. More established video game developers are increasingly seeking to implement NFTs into their games. Game developer giant Ubisoft, for example, has been at the forefront of NFT adoption in the gaming industry. In addition to their “digits” NFT, they have also released a blockchain-based gaming ecosystem called “Quartz”.  

Quartz allows users to interact with each other and purchase in-game items from each other. NFT trading is growing in popularity among gamers as more NFT gaming applications emerge into the market. This includes non-fungible assets from “World of Warcraft,” “Diablo 3,” “Overwatch” and various popular video game skins traded using NFT protocols such as OpenSea and Rarebits. 

The Environmental Impact of Blockchain Technology 

A blockchain is maintained by a network of computers that uses a proof-of-work (POW) consensus algorithm to verify transactions. The POW algorithm requires a large amount of energy to operate, which has led to concerns about the environmental impact of blockchain technology.  

Several alternative consensus algorithms have been proposed in order to address these concerns.  

For reference, a consensus algorithm is a procedure through which all the peers of the Blockchain network reach a common agreement about the present state of the distributed ledger. In this way, consensus algorithms achieve reliability in the Blockchain network and establish trust between unknown peers in a distributed computing environment. Essentially, the consensus protocol makes sure that every new block that is added to the Blockchain is the one and only version of the truth that is agreed upon by all the nodes in the Blockchain. 

One such algorithm is Proof-of-Stake (POS). With POS, holders of the cryptocurrency can participate in the validation of transactions on the network. This greatly reduces the energy requirements needed to support a blockchain network. To address the concerns around energy requirements, Ubisoft is using the Tezos blockchain, which uses the POS algorithm, as part of their NFT implementation.  

The future of Blockchain Gaming 

The future of blockchain gaming is full of NFTs. Game studios no longer have full control over what gamers do with purchased in-game assets, meaning new gameplay features will have to be created to keep players engaged and increase NFT activity. NFTs will give gamers a way to sell, trade, and buy digital items in a decentralised manner — something games could never do before NFTs.  

NFTs allow users to create their own gaming content and sell it on NFT marketplaces by encoding NFT-specific rules into the actual asset itself (instead of relying on hidden rules within a centralised gaming application). NFTs are key to blockchain gaming becoming an industry standard in the future. 

In the future, NFTs might even be used to represent tokens in games themselves — turning a unique NFT into a rare item or unique perk, which could either give a boost or make a challenge more difficult within a game. This could lower development costs while increasing loyalty among gamers who own the same NFT.  

Additionally, NFTs may also implement onto physical gaming accessories (e.g. cards) that will transfer into the digital realm through integration with NFT-specific blockchain protocols. 

NFT-powered gaming has been causing a huge shift in not just how gamers interact with each other but also how they’re able to participate in the gaming world. NFT technology is opening up new methods of financial payment that will empower both gamers and developers for years to come.  

With all this potential, NFTs hold tremendous opportunity to enhance the gaming experience both fundamentally and aesthetically — at least for those who embrace NFT technology within gaming! 

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