Who are you and what do you do at The Great Northern?
I’m Linn-Marie Edlund, and I work for Arctic Game Lab.
My main role is try to attract more females into the gaming industry and to make the entire Skellefteå gaming environment more female-friendly.
What’s your background?
I'm a gamer and have been most of my life. I haven’t been to university but I have been part of the gaming culture for a long time.
First of all, I was acting in the theatre when I was younger but then I went into roleplaying and board games and then I started with LARP (Living action role-playing).
I’ve also worked at the Skellefteå technology store, Teknikmagasinet, for a few years too.
Then a couple of guys from here at The Great Northern asked if I’d work on the Arctic Game Lab with them. I said ‘yes’ pretty much immediately.
Were you surprised at how male-dominated the games industry is?
Absolutely. The games industry is more dominated by males than I ever imagined.
I'm born in the middle of the 1980s and lots of girls liked video games so I thought there would be more females in the industry.
Why do you think there are so few females?
It’s a cultural thing. I was interested in technology and games when I was little but when I started school, the guys were more focused on computers and the girls were not.
Why? I think it's because from an early age in preschool girls weren't given the opportunity to try different technologies.
I really noticed it when I was growing up. I was more interested in playing Nintendo but at preschool and school the teachers gave me dolls instead.
How can you change that?
A couple of us went to Anderstorp school a while back and we were making suggestions about how to make girls feel more comfortable around technology.
We have to start at an early age. Girls don’t just want to play with dolls – they’re interested in technology too.
We have to change that mindset and I think we’re starting to do it.
But even for me it’s hard. Although I’ve been a gamer all my life I’m still behind most of the guys here – they’ve been immersed in this industry for ages and I haven’t.
I have to catch up.
Have you made progress yet?
We had an gaming event aimed at females at The Great Northern a few weeks ago and the feedback was very positive.
It’s really important that females don't feel as though they have to be the best right from the start and that it's ok to make mistakes.
I think it's very important for girls to be able to feel they can make mistakes because, in school, girls have to be very good at everything.
We do not feel that we have the opportunity to make mistakes.
And that’s why it’s so important that we have female-only game jams so they do not feel that they have to compete with the guys.
They can learn stuff without that pressure.
We plan to have our first female-only game jam, focusing on females new to Sweden, early next year.
Has The Great Northern made you feel welcome?
Oh yes, I really like it. Ingela, the communications manager for Arctic Game Lab, is also a female, and it’s great having her around.
The Great Northern already feels so much like home – I feel as though I’ve been here a long time.