Faces of Gojek · 15 Mar 2020

Elicia Lee: on creating your own top gaming events, and why sexism in gaming makes zero sense

Meet the women that embody the Gojek spirit of empowerment. This March, as we celebrate IWD, we put the spotlight on those who are re-shaping the industries they are in, marching to the beat of their own drums, and/or simply redefining what it means to be a woman.

The world of gaming is a man’s world. So much so that women in them often face sexism all forms, from something as casual as being accused of being a ‘fake gamer girl’, to sexual harassment cases that have garnered their own #MeToo moments. 

But what lies beneath are truly people who simply take their playtime seriously, putting in their blood, sweat, and tears for an industry that brings them comfort.

Elicia Lee of Eliphant – a local outfit that does everything from game marketing to operating top gaming events in the region like GameStart Asia –, shares with us her own adventures in doing good work behind the scenes as a girl in this exclusive boys club.

Gojek team (GT): You’ve had a very varied CV, and you’ve done everything from marketing communications for tourism, research for MCCY, and even project management. How did you end up in the gaming industry?

Elicia Lee (EL): I didn’t really know what I wanted to do – I’d always just take up what I found interesting. But games have always been a constant in my life. When the opportunity to work for Electronic Arts (EA) came, of course I said yes. There, I was exposed to the business side of gaming, and I fell in love.

Eventually, EA moved its headquarters to Australia, and I decided to stay in Singapore. I also realized that there was not a single marketing agency that was adept in the intricacies of the gaming industry, so I started **Zombits with an ex-colleague.

GT: What about Eliphant? How did that begin?

EL: As a gamer myself, I did want to go to gaming events, but there just weren’t good ones in Singapore. So I thought, “hey, why not create one myself?” 

Then Eliphant was created simply to organize the first GameStart in 2014. We did well, word started spreading, and soon we got more requests to run events for others. 

GT: What were some of your biggest challenges you had to face while setting up these companies?

EL: Because the events we had as an industry were just not up-to-par, everyone was cynical and jaded. It wasn't easy to convince people that we had any potential to do well. It was very discouraging at times. Thankfully, we had friends who could vouch for us, and big companies like PlayStation and Bandai Namco Entertainment were willing to take the risk and support us.

These days, our problems are a little bit different. It’s now a matter of building a sustainable business, or how to maintain the quality of our work. We also have new competitors, which is exciting, but it also means we’ve had to share exhibitors and partners; there are only so many people you get to work with in such a small industry. 

GT: In a male-dominated industry, how do you think your gender impacts the way you run your companies?

EL: You’d be surprised at the different things men and women prioritize! 

But one of my biggest concerns early on was not being taken seriously. This is something I constantly have to prove: that I’m serious about this, I know what I’m doing, and I’m here to stay. 

I also have to acknowledge that I’ve always been rather boyish, so I think it’s easier for them to see me as one of them.

GT: How do you think the gaming industry will grow in the near future?

EL: This is a very dynamic industry we’re in. I never get bored doing the same thing – everything is always changing, and we’re so open to trying new tech and new things. Nobody knew what esports was 6 years ago, and look at how much we’ve grown since. 

I also am looking forward to seeing how AR and VR will play a part in the future of gaming, and I want to see more mixed-gender teams. We have all-girl gamer groups and all-male ones, but I hope that gender will no longer matter soon. It doesn’t make sense that it matters, you know? All we use when gaming are our brains and hands, not what gender we identify as.

GT: What do you think people should do to even begin approaching an issue as big as gender disparity? 

EL: I think what you’re doing is great, highlighting women behind the scenes who are doing all the good work! There are so many of them that I know, all of them hardworking and passionate. The more we talk about them, the less alien the concept of a woman in gaming is, and the more we’ll encourage the younger ones to come in. 

GT: Any advice for aspiring gaming professionals?

EL: Know that there’s an entire ecosystem. It’s not just players. It’s designers and marketers. People in live production. A gazillion more roles that any man or woman can take up depending on their interest. A lot of schools also have development courses now, and even *SCAPE has an esports commentating workshop. 

And remember that your mental health is important! 

**Editor’s note: Zombits will soon be part of Eliphant.

Elicia also sits on the board of the Singapore Games Association (SGGA), which is endorsed by several government entities. The SGGA is also led by a female chairperson. 

To stay updated on the SGA, join the Singapore Games Guild group on Facebook. For more on Eliphant, click here

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