It’s strange to think, given that so many of us live, breathe, and dream games every day, that video games are still in their relative infancy. It’s an industry that is still growing and developing in every aspect. Creatively, technologically, culturally: the field is a dynamic one, and the people in it are both adapting to changes and creating the change. Christina Seelye is at the heart of that. As our CEO here at Maximum Games, she is in a great position to understand industry trends, the present and future of female game executives, where Maximum Games is going, and what it’s like to be surrounded by games for a living.
“I think there’s a little bit of a thought that all we do is sit around and play games all day,” Seelye remarks, “and I always have to say, ‘Hey, listen, we’re working hard here just like you would in any other job.’” That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable, but working with games is work, just like anything else. Seelye’s work is in support of game design, rather than in the actual design itself. But this support role is a vital part of the design process—without the business side of things, many games would never make it into the hands of players.
Supporting the creativity of those who want to make daring, inspiring work is what makes Christina so passionate about her own work. Maximum Games’ products reflect a diverse and varied spectrum of content—that’s the power of having an executive who lives to support creative endeavors. “I really enjoy being around the creativity,” Seelye says. “I like being able to help monetize creative thought and unique ideas, so that it funds more creation and more creativity.”
Seelye’s position also gives her the ability to be a visible figure for others to look up to, using her platform to help and inspire women. This is crucial in many fields, and particularly in tech—with many viewing industries like gaming as a longtime boy’s club, visible women like Christina help dispel the myths that women aren’t interested in gaming, particularly in the executive arena.
Supporting Creative Development with Knowledge and Passion
Like any other form of media, games require creative professionals to make them. But creativity isn’t all it takes—you need business sense, and that business sense is something Seelye has in spades.
“I don’t feel like I’m super creative as a person. I’m not gifted in that creative way—but I’m really good at positioning and monetizing other people’s creativity. I love being able to really tell the creative people how high a level of respect I have for their creation, and help them get really good results from it.”
Marketing, producing, and getting your game to retailers are skills the average game developer may not have as much experience with, but these are areas in which Seelye and her team can help.
It’s facilitating the creation of bold, artistic games that provide excellent entertainment value for consumers that drives Seelye. With her partnership, developers can have the business end of things handled by her large team’s collective expertise, freeing them up to focus on the creative work. By creating a relationship where the publisher supports creativity, Seelye and her team foster a partnership of mutual respect, where both parties’ abilities are able to shine.
“Respecting each other’s skills and what everybody brings to the table is really important for Maximum Games and for me personally to be successful,” Seelye says. That respect is key for a functioning business relationship, and it’s something she and the rest of the team pride themselves on.
Maximum Games has doubled in size every year under her supervision, which is why Christina says she “needs to be a better delegator in some ways, because the company has grown very, very, very fast.” In her day-to-day operations, Seelye works directly with staff and developers to aid in the creative process. Her work involves reviewing and approving game concepts, meeting with retailers, and she’s even working to set up a European expansion for the company.
Even as their influence and reach increase, Maximum Games and Seelye are still interested in working with smaller developers whose work might not be right for a huge AAA publisher. “We’re a really good choice for those studios to work with, because every game we do is really important to us, and we do really well with games that require some creative marketing and launching and explanation,” she says. Though the company is growing, the desire to support small, passionate projects is still a priority.
For Seelye, Supporting the Community Means Being Visible
Christina uses her position as a visible leader in video game production to show that women can find support and make it in the industry. “I like to talk about it so that girls know that there really is a ton of opportunity for women in the field. It’s a big field,” she says. “I think that I can create a better result for girls and video games by being a visible female executive in the industry.”
Seelye isn’t the only female CEO in video games, and takes advice and inspiration from women both inside and outside the industry. She holds Debbie Bestwick from Team17 up as a source of inspiration. She has also developed friendships and professional networks with other female executives local to the San Francisco region. These relationships serve to show women that the industry—and upper management in general—isn’t as closed-off as it might seem. Seelye and her fellow female executives create a more welcoming environment by being visible and supporting one another.
“I think that when you’re looking at female executives, finding other women who have nothing but your best interests at heart and really care and are supportive of your success is really important.”
That support can be reaching out to other executives or women in the industry with valuable insight, encouraging women to work within companies like Maximum Games, or simply creating games that aren’t marketed specifically toward one gender or another. Each action adds something important, telling female gamers as well as developers and executives and artists that they’re all welcome in the industry, not just as a special interest, but as part of the core demographic. Their interest, passion, and creativity as fans and creators is as important to the industry’s continued success as anyone else’s.
Maximum Games Encourages Creative Development at All Levels
Christina’s personal journey has equipped her with business sense that’s crucial to her own success, as well as that of the games her company produces. And her passion for games is reinforced by seeing the ways that her three children interact with and learn from them. She sees games as an important tool for everybody, championing the ways they encourage people to learn and be entertained.
“You should watch your kid play games like Minecraft. Watch what your kid has been able to create and watch what they’ve been able to learn to do, and talk to them about their strategic decision-making and why they did this and why they didn’t do that, because it will be really interesting to realize how many steps they’re thinking ahead.”
Games, she says, allow for tangential learning—the skills you build through strategizing and prioritizing your needs in survival or strategy or adventure games can be beneficial in real life, as well. A passion for games can also lead to increased interest in learning to code or create your own digital art, both of which are valuable real-world skills. These are the kind of skills that blend with creativity to form lifelong, and possibly life-defining passions. Seelye can attest to the creative power games can hold, even for people without a lifelong fervor for gaming. As a mother working in the games industry, with kids who are gamers themselves, she knows that games hold an intense interest for many.
She strives to have that same interest and focus carry over into everything Maximum Games does. Their mission is not just to make games, but to make games that inspire and entertain audiences of all kinds, supporting visionaries in the industry to make unique content.
“We have a great level of respect for the creative process and what studios can create as far as super fun games,” Christina emphasizes. “Let us work with you, so that we can get the best result, so that you can continue to create!”
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