Get to Know a GameDev: Leah Jewer

via @GirlsonGames

via @GirlsonGames

Leah Jewer wears many hats in the gaming industry. “I guess my unofficial title would be something along the lines of critic, commentator and connoisseur,” explains the co-founder of Girls on Games, a Montreal-based gaming media website. She also has plenty of qualifications that make her a strong voice in the gaming community. “I have a MFA in graphic design so thinking critically comes pretty easily to me. I love voicing my opinions and hearing those of others. And then I just straight up love games.”

It’s this combination of skill + attitude that made us want to sit down with Leah, and get her unique perspective on the gaming industry.

Did you always want to work in this type of role? Why/why something else?
Not at all ha! I always thought I would be a creative director or art director of some sorts. It’s kind of a series of happy accidents and awesome timing that brought me to start Girls on Games with my co-founder Catherine Smith-Desbiens.

What did you do prior to working in games?
Outside of Girls on Games, I am a Special Projects Producer for Digital Radio for Bell Media, and prior to that I was a Senior Web Designer at ALDO Group.

When did you ‘break in’ to the industry?
The break came while working at Astral Media (now Bell Media) for the radio station CHOM 97-7. Catherine and I were handed a copy of Rocksmith by one of the radio hosts and decided to start writing about games on the CHOM website. We then launched our own full website almost 2 years ago (with the blessing of CHOM) and the rest is history.

What (if any) personal challenges have you faced during your career?
Time management and letting go have always been challenges. With a full time job, a husband, a dog and Girls on Games, life can get wild. Last year was a testament to that. Between my wedding, some family crises and relationship upsets on the team, I had to learn fast and quick how to prioritize and how to delegate. It ended up being a great learning experience and caused us to make a better team structure within Girls on Games. Due to the changes we now have a full time stream team, an editorial team, and are nimble and ready to cover any project that comes our way.

Is there any hidden or weird aspect to your job?
Not really that weird, but I don’t think people realize how much behind the scenes work there is to do when managing a website and stream team. Oh and you also get asked to do really odd things… like jump a leap of faith of 20 feet into a huge pillow at Heavy Montreal 😛

Do you have any game industry heroes/role models?
My game industry heroes are definitely the guys over at Kinda Funny Games. I have been following Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty since they were on IGN and Podcast Beyond (Beyond!) and I love that they had the guts to make the jump from a big company to their own thing, creating content full time around video games. It’s super inspirational.

Has your career ever forced you to be apart from close friends and family?
Oh yes. I decided to do all of my education away from my friends and family. The first jump was from St. John’s, Newfoundland where I grew up to Montreal for my Bachelor degree, then down to Savannah, Georgia, USA for my Masters.

How did you deal with that separation?
We are really fortunate to live in the age of the internet. Staying connected with friends and family is so easy with Facebook, Skype and the multitude of other ways you can communicate with your loved ones. I am personally always online, always having that link with different places across North America so that I stay up to date and am never alone. I can’t say that distance hasn’t caused ill effects to relationships. I have had ones that end due to it, but I have also grown as a person and made better, more meaningful relationships from the experience, and that is priceless.

What would your advice be to someone in a long distance relationship?
I always go back to a quote from the movie The Girl Next Door (I know, silly movie, but I liked it):4532308416_17998226df_m

Always know if the juice is worth the squeeze.

If you think something is worth the effort, work at it. Because it will be rewarding in the end. Worst comes to worst, if things don’t work out, at least you tried and won’t be thinking “what if…” and living in regret for the rest of your life.

What has been the biggest or most striking change in games since you first started playing?
Online connectivity is definitely the biggest change in games since I started. I used to spend all my time with my friends on a couch passing a controller back and forth. Now I can play with my friends across the globe. The internet has infiltrated almost every aspect of our lives, and gaming have been a big part of that integration.

Has a game ever had an emotional impact on you?
Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I don’t really like war games, but Valiant Hearts is not your traditional shooter. It’s a story-based game that follows multiple characters journey through the tragedy of war, all connected by a dog. It’s not a long game, maybe 10 hours total, but I was bawling like a baby at the end. Totally worth a play through for any gamer, but have some tissues close by.


What are the one or two new games you’re most looking forward to?
The game I am most looking forward to is the infamous Legend of Zelda HD. I always dreamed of an open world Zelda game and from the first teaser video presented by Nintendo I was hooked. Cannot wait to play that in 2017.

Do you know someone in the gaming community with a unique perspective, interesting project or creative take on the industry? We’d like to talk to them! Let us know who we should feature next:

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  • On June 23, 2016