At its heart, Geek Bomb is fundamentally about celebrating, inspiring, and getting to know women in geek. Founded by our Boss Bomb Maude Garrett and featuring a Bomb Squad filled with diverse, talented, and totally badass ladies, Geek Bomb has a mindset much like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Females are strong as hell. And it’s about time we start celebrating that again. So, we’ve decided to relaunch Women in Geek, our interview series that spotlights, shows off, and talks about the wonderful ladies who are leading the geek entertainment field.
Joining us for this round is Alanah Pearce! Gaming expert and enthusiast, IGN writer and producer, and YouTuber and cosplayer, Alanah’s a fellow Aussie whose multi-faceted talents are undeniable and impressive. Learn more about Alanah’s journey through the geek world, what sparks her creativity, and the advice she’d give to those starting out in the industry.
Geek Bomb: First off, when did you realize that you were, in essence, a geek? What geeky things are you up to now?
Alanah Pearce: I don’t think there was any specific moment in my life that I knew I was a geek, it has just always been a part of me. I’ve been playing games since I was about five years old and am super lucky to have grown up in a household where that was totally normal. Some of my fondest memories are of playing Nintendo 64 games with my older sister.
Right now, I’m a writer and producer at IGN Entertainment, which involves creating a whole lot of entertaining and informative content about games, cosplay, science, and toys. I also have a much more casual, personal YouTube channel where I upload new videos every week.
GB: Let’s get our foot in the door by asking how you got your foot in the door. What’s your industry origin story – how did you get started? What advice can you give to those looking to break into your industry?
AP: I was working an awful job in a call centre (seriously, it sucked) and desperately trying to leave when I stumbled across a listing for a volunteer gaming news writer, and being that I’ve always loved games and writing, seeing that listing sparked something in me and I threw my all into it. I started volunteering for any website that would have me, then slowly worked my way into freelance work, then got a part-time job, then full-time, and now I’m an Australian living in the US, working for the biggest games media outlet in the world! That’s the short version, but the long version mostly just involves me repeating the phrase “hard work.”
The best advice I can give for anyone wanting to get into my industry is this: Recognize your skills and apply them to the industry you want to work in, not the other way around. Some people might want to be game reviewers because they love games, but for that, you need to be a passionate writer, too. There are so many other things you can do in entertainment media, whether it’s community management, engineering, wiki guides, video production, editing, or graphic design, find the thing you’re good at and practice it, then apply it to the industry you want.
GB: What is the most difficult obstacle that you’ve had to overcome in your industry or maybe even still overcoming?
AP: As much as I want to encourage people to work hard to accomplish things, there’s a limit to that. I really struggle with maintaining a work-life balance, in that work too often wins. I don’t get many weekends off and I work a lot of late nights, and that’s something I’m probably a little too obsessed with. When you work in a field you love, it can be hard to find an “off” Switch. (My phone just auto-corrected the word “switch” to “Switch” with a capital S. Do you see what I’m getting at here?)
GB: Picture yourself at ten years old. What advice would you give her? What would she love to know about present-day you? Anything by which she’d be surprised?
AP: I can still be pretty awkward, but 10-year-old Alanah was also really, really shy. I think Little Me would be shocked and terrified to hear how much of my job has become speaking to camera, or [being] on podcasts. She’d be just as excited as I still am today to hear that I get to play games for work, and if I had any advice, it’d be: DON’T GET RID OF THAT LIMITED EDITION PIKACHU NINTENDO 64, YOU TINY IDIOT.
GB: Who are your female role models and/or inspirations?
AP: My mum is my biggest inspiration and probably always will be. She managed a demanding job at a five-star resort as a single mum, but still had time to raise my sister and I into hard-working people with careers we both really love. That’s pretty amazing. I’m also just constantly inspired by the women I get to work with every day: Chloi Rad, Miranda Sanchez, Kathleen Luevano, Kiersten Slader, Ginger Smith, Terri Schwartz, Lucy O’Brien, to name a few. The list absolutely goes on, but really, IGN is held together by so many incredible women.
GB: Who are some of your favourite fictional female character of all time?
AP: Joanna Dark has always been my number one fictional female character, probably because she’s such an effortless badass in the Perfect Dark series. I also really love Jade from Beyond Good and Evil and Bulma from Dragonball. I’m all about a good mix of sass and intelligence.
GB: How would you like to see this industry grow for not only women, but within the entertainment space?
AP: People within my industry are largely incredibly supportive of the women in it, but some of the community surrounding the industry has a little way to go. I’d love to be able to be on camera with another girl I work with and not have the comment be about which of us is more bang-able, or which of us knows more about games. I’d also love to have more comments on the words I say and less on my appearance, more in line with the balance my male counterparts get. Basically, the more women we have working in the space, the less I think people will treat women like tokens, and that’s great for everyone!
GB: Where can people discover more about you? Socials/website/podcast or channel links.
AP: I’m on ALL the social networks (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat) as “Charalanahzard,” which is just my name in the middle of “Charizard” if you can’t remember how to spell it because it’s a vowel-heavy disaster. You can also find my writing on IGN, and the weekly Xbox show I co-host on YouTube.
Thanks again to the lovely Alanah Pearce for joining us to celebrate the magic of women in the nerd world!