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 the bright and shiny relaunch is a very special guest: Twitch streamer, YouTuber, avid gamer, and all-around awesome gal Kristine Steimer.
1) First off, when did you realize that you were, in essence, a geek? What geeky things are you up to now?
I honestly didn’t give much thought to labels like “geek” or “nerd” until I entered this industry and people used them as a badges of honor. Growing up, the fact that I played games, or hell, taught myself HTML in order to create a website for breeding Petz (yeah, I just dated myself) never seemed odd to me or anyone else. Although, to be fair, I didn’t exactly spread around the fact that I had created several Petz “kennelz” with my sister. Don’t worry, I can feel you judging me and it’s fine.
These days, I still play games and you can watch me play them live on Twitch or discuss my thoughts on them on YouTube. Eventually, I’d love to help create a line of women’s geek gear that’s subtle and classy — there are wayyyy too many basic ill-fitting unisex cotton tees out there.
2) 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?
It started innocently enough. I wanted to do my final college PR case study on a subject I was interested in: games. Coincidentally, my professor had a connection with the head of Microsoft’s PR agency for the Xbox account. I used the Xbox 360 launch as my subject and inquired about internships on their team after I graduated. I got the internship, made it onto the Xbox 360 PR team, and the rest is history.
If you’re looking to break into the industry you need to be relatable and politely persistent. Events like E3 or GDC are great for networking, and if you meet the right people, they can help you get your foot in the door. If you can’t make it there, Twitter is a great resource to gain access to people as both creatives and HR are present on the platform. If you do choose that approach, it’s important to keep your online presence professional. Don’t be that person who attacks developers and talks shit constantly online. If you do, there’s a slim chance anyone will want to work with you.
3. What is the most difficult obstacle that you’ve had to overcome in your industry, or maybe are even still overcoming?
I’ve had to deal with some pretty gnarly sexist things throughout my career in the games industry. I’ve never really spoken about them publicly, and I doubt I ever will, mostly because that’s not the most difficult thing I’ve had to overcome. The biggest issue with anyone in any industry at any point in time is themselves — after all, you are the only thing you have actual control over. To that point, I’ve struggled with Imposter Syndrome, always feeling like I’m not good enough. I just try to push through the self-doubt as best I can, and as dorky as it sounds I like to think of this quote, “To avoid criticism: Say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” It reminds me that everyone, including myself, may be a critic, but that doesn’t mean you should stop creating.
4) 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?
It’s funny you ask this, because I found a book at my parent’s house over the holidays that I must have written around that age. Ten-year-old me would be in for some major shocks — apparently, I wanted to be a scientist for NASA. That went well. Aside from that shock, I think she’d be surprised to realize that there actually is a gaming industry. When I was younger, I never considered it possible to work for a gaming company — to me, games magically appeared on shelves. NASA disappointment aside, I think she’d be pretty pleased with how I’ve grown over the years in a field she didn’t even realize existed.
As for advice, I’d tell her that trying to stifle a passion in order to follow a more “traditional” life isn’t worth it. Though the saying “money isn’t everything” certainly comes from a place of privilege, I still find it to be true. Instead of taking a job that sucks your creative juices dry, find something you can stand to do to make ends meet, minimize your spending, and make a plan to pursue your dream. It’ll never be easy, but push through. If you quit when it gets difficult, you’ll never get anywhere.
5) Who are your female role models and/or inspirations?
I’m gonna sound like a dick here, but I don’t actively look up to anybody in particular. That said, I respect the hell out of anyone that finds a way to do what they love. It’s inspiring when tenacity overcomes obstacles. I love the story behind companies like Rooster Teeth and Geek & Sundry — those were founded by incredibly creative people who decided to do things that (at the time) were considered abnormal. Whenever I feel insecure, I try to remind myself that everyone struggles, it’s how you handle the curveballs when they come that’s important.
6) Who are some of your favourite fictional female characters of all time?
When I was in highschool, I remember loving The Mists of Avalon, which is the tale of King Arthur told from the women’s POV. Now, since I read it so long ago, I can’t recall many specifics, but I appreciated the fresh take on such a classic. If you enjoy high fantasy at all, I’d recommend that series.
For video games, Elaine Marley from Monkey Island is fantastic. Guybrush always believes her to be in danger, but Elaine flips the “damsel in distress” trope on its head and often rescues Guybrush. She’s smart and she kicks ass. What more could you want? Yennefer of Vengerberg is another favorite of mine; she doesn’t care who likes or dislikes her, she just focuses on getting the job done.
This is a weird one, but one of my favorite female characters in a movie is Mona Lisa from My Cousin Vinny. Yeah, you heard me. She’s sassy, sharp and is the key to getting the youths off the hook for a murder they didn’t commit.
Finally, in comics I love characters that are a bit morally ambiguous, like Catwoman or Raven, but I think Atom Eve from Invincible may be my favorite. She’s got the coolest power ever — the ability to rearrange the very molecules that build life — but she’s also incredibly relatable.
7) How would you like to see this industry grow for not only women, but within the entertainment space?
Our industry is still very young, so it isn’t quite as respected by other entertainment mediums, but I believe that will change once we take ourselves a bit more seriously. Our marketing, which is often the only thing the public eye sees, is still very immature and clearly driven at a younger market.
Another issue is that employers often treat their workers poorly because it’s a “fun” industry, but that attitude doesn’t retain talent. Once our industry starts to value its people, and we show that we aren’t a bunch of teenagers in a basement, I think we’ll see more positive changes.
That said, I’ve already witnessed a lot of growth during the course of my career. Horizon: Zero Dawn just launched to critical acclaim and it is a brand new IP with a woman as the player character. When I first entered this industry, I’m pretty sure you’d be laughed out of the building for suggesting such a thing.
8) Where can people discover more about you?
You can find me around the internet in these places:
Thanks again to the lovely Kristine Steimer for joining us to celebrate the magic of women in the nerd world!