Teeside University's Gabrielle Kent speaks to an independent developer that juggled her work with pregnancy
When creative producer Leanne Bayley left Remode Studios to be with her partner, she thought it would be easy enough to find work. Unfortunately pregnancy and employability don’t mix.
“Within a month of moving to Brighton, I discovered I was pregnant. Although I knew this wouldn't help my getting a new job, I was still optimistic. After all, I was still perfectly capable, willing and wanting to work. Of course what had happened was I'd become unemployable.”
While many studios asked Leanne to keep in touch for future opportunities, the message she was receiving loud and clear was: "Come back when you’re not pregnant". After a long and demoralising search, the job hunt finally ground to a halt.
“Eventually I gave up. We decided that we would wait until after the baby for me to find a new job and in my extended maternity leave I could have a crack at some personal projects, make some indie games and have a stab at learning Unity. And then the plan changed again.”
Just when Leanne had accepted her situation, her partner – game designer Alex Trowers – also found himself out of work and her personal projects became their new job.
“Suddenly, Glyphquest, a game we had been pottering around with in our spare time was promoted to Plan A, and we had to make it work.”
With only three months to go before Leanne’s due date, the couple found themselves with their harshest deadline yet, facing obstacles most dev teams never experience, 3am hospital trips, crippling back ache, pre-natal depression, impending bankruptcy and two months notice from their landlord. Where an understanding publisher might be able to provide a little leeway in extreme circumstances, pregnancy could well decide to move the deadline closer.
“Despite all that pregnancy has thrown at me, and for that matter every other bit of bad luck and timing, we have made this game. I have continued to work right to the wire to make this happen. I couldn't get a job when I was looking, I wasn't desirable at the time, so now I'm an indie. It's sad that I had to go through all this to get here, and no doubt I'm not the only person who's given up with trying to fit a job description and gone it alone, but that's what had to happen.
"By the end of the month, I will have achieved two life goals. I have wanted to have children for a long time and now I've found someone I can share that with. Very soon we will meet this little person who will change our lives forever. I have wanted to make games since completing Final Fantasy VII in 1998 and now I have released my first independent game. It has not been smooth, easy or painless, but it will hopefully enable me to continue to work for myself. Well, for my family.”
Puzzle and RPG hybrid Glyph Quest launched on the App Store today. Leanne's other baby is imminent.