“Since video games are played by everyone, they should also be made by everyone.”
Call of Duty publishing producer. Call of Duty: Warzone live producer. And now the senior producer of virtual reality (VR) games at Meta's Oculus Publishing. Pauliina Törnqvist has a decorated career when it comes to the gaming industry, and some may wonder about her journey. Fortunately, Törnqvist sat down with esports.gg to share her story and provide insights about how to champion women in the industry!
Combining video games with professional growth
Törnqvist has been passionate about video games since childhood, playing them with her sister while in their dad's office. However, it wasn't until university that Törnqvist realized making games could be a career. Surrounded by folks interested in startups and gaming, she decided to pursue both options combined into one. To her, it was a way to unite her passion since childhood with something that she could do for a living.
This led to starting her own company and making some simple mobile games. Her work as the co-founder of Meteo Game House Ltd. then helped her land an internship with Rovio Entertainment Corporation. There, she worked on Angry Birds.
"And from there on onwards, the rest is kind of history. Just got awesome opportunities to work in wonderful game companies, wonderful projects — one of them being Call of Duty," Törnqvist told esports.gg. "Call of Duty is a game that I've played when I was younger, and it was wonderful to get an opportunity to contribute to such an iconic franchise. So I was really lucky to be able to do that. And I'm really grateful that I had the opportunity to work at Activision and ship games like Warzone around when the pandemic happened."
Becoming a role model for women in gaming
In addition to being a producer, Törnqvist is a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) advocate who has volunteered for groups such as Women in Games International (WIGI), International Game Developers Association (IGDA), and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation. She shared her thoughts about the impact of these efforts with esports.gg.
"I think a lot of what contributed to the fact that I didn't really consider games as a career option was that back like a decade ago, when I was starting off in the industry, there weren't that many women to look up to in the industry," Törnqvist recalled. "It just speaks volumes to how important representation is and that people see people like themselves in these roles so that they can look up to them and say, 'Hey, if she's doing it, I can do it, too.'"
Törnqvist added that back then, there weren't a lot of women in the spotlight. "That doesn't mean that they didn't exist. It was a different time back then. And I think in terms of diversity and inclusion when it comes to the game industry, there's been a huge leap within the past decade."
She then talked about Johanna Faries, who is the general manager of Call of Duty. She noted how Faries did a lot of groundwork in terms of the esports side of Call of Duty before stepping up to run the entire franchise.
“Since video games are played by everyone, they should also be made by everyone. Because you can't have just one demographic making games for everyone.”
The real impact of DE&I initiatives
To Törnqvist, in order for video games to be enjoyed by everyone, they should also be made by diverse creators. It's non-profit organizations such as the aforementioned WIGI, IGDA, and ESA Foundation that help promote DE&I within the industry.
Through these organizations, mentorship opportunities, podcasts, and speakers going to universities are possible. As a result, underrepresented groups get the support they need to achieve their goals. Törnqvist told esports.gg that it's immensely rewarding to help aspiring game developers land jobs in the gaming field as well.
"A lot of these are focusing on early career support for minority demographics — whether it's LGBTQ+ representation, whether it's gender diversity, or driving gender diversity in the game industry," she said. "Or it's just serving underrepresented groups in various areas. These are some of the ways that I like to contribute."
Törnqvist then recalled the direct impact of her volunteer work. "There have been multiple occasions where I've had folks come up to me and say that 'Hey, I saw you wrote this blog post on LinkedIn' or 'I saw the podcast you made' or 'I saw you talking about this so it really got me inspired and I just landed my first job in gaming,'" she said.
Pursuing a career in gaming and esports
In terms of a piece of advice for those who wish to pursue a career in video game production or the gaming industry in general, Törnqvist emphasized that the time is now. She said that video games have become a major media outlet that surpasses music, television, and movies combined. Additionally, there are a lot of opportunities and roles within the industry that do not require the traditional programmer route.
"So absolutely do not hesitate to jump right in," she said. "Apply to open roles that seem interesting and really explore the full potential of working in games because there's never been a better time for that."
Törnqvist noted that there are opportunities when it comes to VR, too. As a senior producer for VR games at Oculus Publishing, she is particularly excited about the Meta Quest 3 VR headset that launched back in 2023. She told esports.gg that a lot of exciting content is in the works.
"Then when it comes to the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, I'm now doing the current cohort for the Women in Games Mentorship [Program], which is powered by Amazon this time around," she added. "So I have my mentee through the program, and I'm working with her to help her career move forward."
To learn more about the mentorship program, visit WIGI's official website.
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