Untold Stories: Kim Parker Adcock
In this series, we will be telling the ‘untold stories’ of the games sector and shining a light on the many women who helped contribute to the UK games industry the past thirty years. In this blog, we’re joined by Kim Parker-Adcock, founder of OPM Jobs, who tells us all about being in the early days of games on the recruitment side.
30 Years of Play: Tell us who you are, what you do and a little bit about your career in the industry.
Kim Parker Adcock: Kim Parker-Adcock, Owner/MD OPM Response Ltd, specialist global interactive entertainment recruitment company. Joined the industry in April 1992 and have worked in Recruitment, and as a Senior Product Manager with Gem distribution.
30YOP: How did you start working in the sector?
KPA: I took a part-time job doing Admin and Telesales between child#2 and child#3 with Answers Recruitment just five days after it opened.
30YOP: What was the British games industry like in the early years of the sector?
KPA: It was a cottage industry, everyone knew each other. James Pond had just been released and I was escorted round the show by a 7ft yellow cod shooting people with a water cannon. I was hooked.
30YOP: What was it like to work early in the industry as a woman?
KPA: There were still some old-fashioned attitudes to women in games and special suspicion of recruiters. We had one annual trade show ECTS, and in 1992 there were 300 attendees, and just 2 women. Being taken seriously and proving I knew what I was talking about was challenging at first. It has only been as I’ve got older that I feel I’ve ‘earned’ respect. Posting my 40th and 50th birthdays online created a tangible change. Now I’m asked to speak at events, I’d never have imagined that 21 years ago.
30YOP: Were there any big challenges that you faced in the early days of your career?
KPA: The industry wasn’t used to working with agencies and some organisations simply didn’t know how it worked. Many were tiny companies and I fondly remember one client meeting in a council flat with a dog on my lap. There were fewer women in games compared to men, but less men in Recruitment and we were known for a long time as “The OPM Girls”. Additionally, the Recruitment Award was booed at Develop. We’d be booed as the award was announced, and as we walked to the stage. Oddly enough that changed around the recession when everyone needed us to get jobs…
30YOP: How did your role in the games industry change and what drove it?
KPA: I started as a part-timer doing the admin, then became a Consultant running Technical and later Marketing divisions. I moved back to my home town in 1995 and took a role as Product Manager at Gem with my favourite boss of all time Paul Donnelly. I was promoted to Senior just ten weeks in representing 10 vendors, and looked after 1st party distribution for GTi. From there I worked from home for Answers auditing and developing new business. When word got out that my work there was done (that’s a whole other story), I was offered finance by five people in the industry to open on my own. I didn’t take it, but OPM stands for ‘Other People’s Money’ in honour of my potential investor at the time. We’re still in touch. I was a single (and for a time homeless) mum of three sons who were 4, 9 and 11 when I opened OPM. They are now our PR & Marketing Manager, Company Secretary, and Operations Manager.
Being responsible for my OPM ‘family’ is a huge responsibility and I’m still completely passionate about the people we work with and the difference we can make to their lives, and their profits!
30YOP: Have you got a memorable anecdote that shows what the industry was like?
KPA: I was once asked for “mates rates” by a man who thought complimenting me on his memory of me in a bikini ten years before, (at my hotel awaiting flight back from E3), would get him a better discount. He hadn’t spoken to me at the time, or in the ten intervening years. Creepy.
30YOP: If you could change one thing about the sector, what would it be?
KPA: I’d like to see more social aspects to our industry. Nobody talks anymore. Whether that’s via eSports events, social gatherings, networking, anything that brings gamers together face to face. There’s research out that proves we have a whole generation feeling isolated, and they miss social interaction. We all get together to hear the same genre of music, to watch films, to see plays, why not games?
30YOP: What would be your one piece of advice for someone starting out in the industry?
KPA: There are around 100 times more graduates coming out of University than there are games companies in the UK. Consider jobs outside of the traditional programmer, artist and designer job titles, and research associated companies not just games developers and publishers for your first job. There is an increasingly blurred line between games and connected industries so keep an open mind. If you have enough passion you’ll get in somewhere!