PMS Clan Women in Gaming - Svenna PMS
If there’s one thing you should know about PMS Clan, it’s that we have some of the most talented women in the gaming industry in our ranks. When Sara “Svenna PMS” Ventura first joined PMS Clan in 2003 she didn’t know what the future would hold for her. She was excited to join the League of Legends Division and find a community of people that she could connect and play with. Hop into our handy dandy time machine and flashing forward to the future! Not only has Svenna worked video game industry events, she’s also published tons of content as a writer and journalist! Today, you can find Svenna PMS working on the Xbox dashboard as the Programming Producer 2 and Editorial Project Manager for the Xbox platform. Check out our interview with her to learn more about how she made the leap from fan to professional.
Tell us a little bit about your background with PMS Clan.
I found out about the PMS Clan a year or two before I joined. I was one of those lurkers and plus, I was still in college so I didn’t have too much time to play games as much as I wanted to. Once I graduated and moved back to the U.S. (I was studying abroad in Scotland), I joined and became a member of the League of Legends Division. I was also a member of the PMS|H2O Community Engagements team and ran the PMS|H2O Editorial Team alongside Harpy PMS and later Zombie PMS.
For the first time in my life, I was around a group of people who I could game with on a daily basis. They were people who genuinely cared about my well-being too. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (aka I’m always getting injured or sick) so when Clan members wouldn’t hear from me in a couple of days, I’d come back to messages asking if I was okay.
Though I wish I could’ve joined at an earlier age, I think that it happened at the right time. I was in a transitional period where I wasn’t sure what to do with my future and having my friends in the PMS Clan gave me the ability to keep pushing on.
What are some things that your job entails?
My job is one where I wear many hats. Some days I’ll be working on updating videos on the Xbox Live Dashboard, other days I’ll write self-help troubleshooting articles for Xbox Support. Randomly I’ll get messages to proofread things or program in HTML. It’s an ever-evolving job and I love tackling new projects.
My favorite aspect of my job (which I sadly don’t do anymore) was posting as the Official Xbox account on the console’s activity feed. For those of you who don’t know, the activity feed is basically the section on Xbox where you see your friend’s achievements, screenshots, videos, etc. It’s like a mini social media feed, but Xbox exclusive. Every account follows the Official Xbox activity feed and that’s where I posted from for a little over a year and a half. Every member was forced to be subjected to my lunacy.
I’m one of the handful of gamers on the team, so they gave me this duty and told me to have fun with it. I’ll admit, I pushed the envelope at times, but when you’re a consumer of the product you have a good idea as to what the people want. So I gave them silly puns or awkward screenshots. I quoted memes and even celebrated May the 4th for Star Wars. In this section, I was also able to surprise users by highlighting their achievements, say if someone reached a 100k Gamerscore or 10 years on XBL, etc.
Someone on Reddit took a screenshot of their highlight and wrote several paragraphs at how thankful they were for being noticed and how appreciative they were of everything the Xbox community did. That made the work worth it. It was a ton of fun to directly engage with the community whereas my main job is usually in the background.
What’s one of the hardest things about working in the industry?
I would say stability. Leadership, funding, and more can change at the drop of a hat in gaming (even in a corporate setting). Sometimes people are laid off with no notice or severance. I think it’s incredibly useful to have a few backup plans if possible. While gaming is fun and worth it, just be prepared for anything. Even if there isn’t a news report detailing large layoffs (like the many we’ve had in 2018 so far), realize that people are being laid off daily and struggling for work.
Was there a specific game or experience that set you on this path professionally?
I fell into gaming by accident. I was working at a political/small-business public relations firm in Albany, N.Y…never realizing I was destined to work in games. My boss was friends with a woman who ran a video game blog and he offered our services. Since I was the only person in our company who knew about games, he put me on as the lead. I became friends with her and she introduced me to the possibility of working in games! You may know her as Narz or PMS Narzz, who I brought into the clan.
As far as gaming in general, I would say the game Suikoden set me on the path to wanting to become a writer, which in turn lead me to games. Everything comes full circle.
What do you love the most about video games as a player?
I love being able to transport myself to another world and de-stress, though sometimes I find myself more physically stressed after the fact. I brought up Ehler-Danlos Syndrome before. As I get older, I’m not able to play as much for long periods anymore due to my hands cramping and contorting; which means my gaming style has changed. I tend to play more RPGS and exploratory games where I can pause (or at least hide somewhere, like Monster Hunter: World!). When I first joined the Clan, I was all about FPS and MOBA multiplayers. Don’t get me wrong, I still love all genres, but health is certainly a factor.
Did your experiences in PMS Clan help you in any aspect of your career path?
I had gotten my degree in journalism and worked in news prior to joining the PMS Clan, but once I became a member of the Editorial Team, I ventured into games journalism. I’ll never forget the email I received telling me that I qualified for my first media badge at PAX East 2014 through PMS Clan. It felt like I leveled up! PMS Wedge took me around with her husband, Chris Kohler, who is also a games journalist and writer, and introduced me to people and gave me tips. It was invaluable and solidified my want to become an active member in this industry.
Anything else you’d like to include? Advice for those looking to work in games?
Always keep learning, don’t burn bridges, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help.