Deborah Mensah-Bonsu is a nominee for our Games category. Having joined the games industry five years ago after being a journalist she first worked at Xbox as a producer and presenter before joining Space Ape three and a half years ago. Deborah now leads Space Ape’s in-house content, livestreams as well as various marketing and PR campaigns.
Here are a few questions we asked Deborah.
1. What inspired you to join the games industry?
I had never considered a career in the games industry. I didn't grow up with a gaming console, my family didn't have a lot of money growing up and my brother and I spent all of our time outside as kids inventing games. Video games were just never a part of my upbringing. When I realised I needed a change from news journalism, I left my job and moved from Canada back to Europe. I'm German by birth and spent my childhood there. Once in Germany I got a call from a recruiter. They were looking for someone with an editorial background who spoke English, French and German - and so interviewed with Microsoft, and a few weeks later I was moving to London. It wasn't something I ever planned on, but I was open and looking for new challenges, so I just grabbed the opportunity, and haven't looked back since. I think that's one of my main pieces of advice to anyone starting out - don't be too rigid about what you think you want to do or what your first job in the industry should look like, keep an open mind!
2. What/who do you consider your biggest inspiration?
I'm consistently inspired by everyone around me at Space Ape - their dedication and innovation. People are constantly looking for better ways to do what they love. There's a culture here of not pretending to have all the answers, which means everyone is always growing. My previous boss at Xbox was also a huge inspiration. He always said 'There are some people who want the house by the lake, and there are others who want to create something, which one do you want to be'. I love that, because it speaks to the passion he has for what he does, it's not based on financial gain. That's how I've always operated, so it really clicked for me. I say 'don't let what you do define you, let who you are define what you do.'
3. What has been your biggest struggle working within the industry?
I think my biggest struggle in the industry has been recognising that I'm a valuable member of it. I think especially as a woman without a traditional gaming background, there's a tendency to fall prey to Imposter Syndrome. I've spoken to many women about this, and while I'm sure men also feel it, it seems to be especially acute among women in the games industry. It has been a bit of boy's club in the past, and that's definitely changing, but it was intimidating when I started out. I think it's important to recognise that games are for everyone, no matter their background, gender, race etc, and we do the industry a huge service by representing as many different voices as possible.
4. Finally, what excited you the most about what you are doing?
What excites me the most is that my job is that it's constantly changing. This industry moves so quickly and that means there are always new challenges and opportunities. I love the variety that comes with my job. One day I can be shooting and editing a video, the next I'm planning a lecture for our Varsity series. I’m passionate about mentoring and creating opportunities for youth and using games for good. I never get bored, there's always more to learn and new people to collaborate with and learn from.