Malaysian associate producer shares her thoughts on working for international game developer


Photos By AZMAN GHANI

Being able to work with and learn from a diverse group of people has helped Zarifah excel at her job.

As game developer Double Eleven’s associate producer for Rust Console Edition (a multiplayer survival video game), Zarifah Ismail believes that having a diverse skillset in any organisation is an advantage, and sets you apart from the crowd.

“Having talents from a diverse skill set is great, especially in decision-making. Each individual brings a unique approach and ideas based on their own experiences, and this leads to more informed decisions as a team,” says the 28-year-old who works at the company’s Kuala Lumpur office.

“This also helps in problem solving as we approach issues or challenges from various angles or perspectives, to come up with solutions that are more well-rounded,” she says.

“I believe this will help the team grow, as we all learn from each other’s strengths and approach,” she adds.

Her company – which is headquartered in England – has achieved recognition within the industry by partnering with some of the biggest developers and publishers, working on notable games such as Minecraft Dungeons, LittleBigPlanet and Fallout76.

For the longest time, it has been assumed that the game development industry only employs talents with specific skillsets and backgrounds, particularly those with relevant knowledge and experience in game development, coding, and design. But as Zarifah has proven, a new generation of workers has brought more diverse skillsets and shifted mindsets in terms of what an individual can offer an organisation, and expanded the role of game development studios to more than just making games but also publishing and marketing them.

Zarifah is an associate producer for Rust Console Edition, a multiplayer survival video game. Photo: Double Eleven Ltd & Facepunch Studios LtdZarifah is an associate producer for Rust Console Edition, a multiplayer survival video game. Photo: Double Eleven Ltd & Facepunch Studios Ltd

Zarifah, who was born in Kuantan, Pahang, and has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Auckland, New Zealand and ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) with UOW KDU College, speaks from experience as she jumped from a different industry to the game development world.

“Although I naturally gravitated towards a role in accounting and worked in corporate planning after graduating, as an avid gamer for the last 20 years, I’ve always been drawn to the gaming industry,” she shares.

“The more games I play, the more curious I’ve become. I’ve always wondered how games are made, what are the qualities that make a game great, and more,” she says, admitting that it has been her dream since childhood to work in the game industry one day.

But even though she has known about Double Eleven, since she started her job search in 2020 through the games that she plays, it wasn’t till much later that she made the move.

When her first attempt applying to the company for a job wasn’t successful, she took it as an opportunity to gain more work exposure before trying again in 2023 and this time, she made it.

“Making the change wasn’t easy but my colleagues have been a great help. I was given the space to learn and grow into my role. My peers have also always been ready to lend a helping hand and teach me the ropes,” she shares.

Diversity goals

Zarifah believes that to be successful in life, it's important for women to understand and embrace their circumstances, and take calculated risks.Zarifah believes that to be successful in life, it's important for women to understand and embrace their circumstances, and take calculated risks.Being able to work with and learn from a diverse group of people who each have different skillsets and expertise has helped me to excel in what I do, she says.

Zarifah comes from a family of five, and has two older sisters. Growing up in a female-strong household has taught her that regardless of gender, anything and everything is achievable as long as one works for it.

She says that there is more diversity and inclusivity in game development today compared to previously, with more women taking up career opportunities in the industry. She says that she hasn’t felt much discrimination in her workplace.

“As a people-first company with a diverse workforce, everyone here is given equal opportunity and treatment, regardless of gender or nationality/ethnicity.”

However, Zarifah admits that in her private and professional life, like many other women, she has faced the social stigma and been told that building her career is just a “gig” and that eventually, she’ll leave the workforce, or work less, when she gets married and has children.

She has also found that as a female, her opinions are sometimes regarded as less important than those of her male counterparts.

“Fortunately, I’m blessed with a good support system from other women and male allies who have supported and advocated for me in my career,” she says.

“I believe the best way to deal with this is to educate people in order to dismantle such unconscious biases and to continuously advocate for the opinions of my fellow women peers, just as they’ve done for me,” she adds.

Zarifah says that although there is a preconception that working in game development means sacrificing work-life balance, that’s not the case for her.

“We have a flexible work schedule and this is helpful for me as I’m not a morning person. We also strive to avoid crunch time whenever possible, which means once our work hours are done, we can go off, without bringing our work home. This has given me ample time to pursue my hobbies, such as playing games!” she reveals.

Don’t be afraid to fail, as there are valuable lessons to be learnt after each failure. Try and try again until you level up, says Zarifah.Don’t be afraid to fail, as there are valuable lessons to be learnt after each failure. Try and try again until you level up, says Zarifah.

Zarifah believes that to be successful, it’s important for women to understand and embrace their circumstances, and take calculated risks.

“Grab the opportunities that come your way. It’s alright to be afraid but you need to face your fears, know your strengths and have confidence in yourself.”

She adds that it’s important to be adaptable and embrace lifelong learning.

“Stay curious and have an open mind. Don’t be afraid to fail, as there are valuable lessons to be learnt after each failure. Try and try again until you level up.”

She concludes that a strong support system is vital.

“This can be your family, friends and/or colleagues. I’m especially grateful for great colleagues who have taught, supported, and advocated for me. I’ve learnt a lot from them, and I hope to continue to learn and grow with them.”

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