Voices of Women in Tech
An interview with Jean Leggett who created a company and platform to help underprivileged voices share their stories.
Jean Leggett is leading a revolution in both traditional book publishing and video games. She and her husband have worked tirelessly for over four years to build One More Story Games (OMSG), a platform designed to help children and adults create, market and monetize narrative video games that are a hybrid of book-meets-game. She started off as a stand-up comedian with an English degree, and experience with databases and web design. “I pursued stand-up comedy, speaking, and coaching in my off hours and never dreamed I’d be doing what I do today.”
[Violetta Holl] Can you tell us about what your average day looks like?
[Jean Leggett] On a day-to-day basis, I wear a number of hats because I’m one half of the founding team for our games company, One More Story Games (OMSG). I’m the hustler to my husband’s hacker. I’m doing a lot of the operations-related tasks like sales, marketing, accounting, investor relations, herding cats, and some days I’m also doing game writing, quality assurance and user experience testing. Our mission at OMSG is to help authors envision and transform their short stories and novels into interactive, narrative video games. My English degree comes in handy in this space and I really enjoy the opportunities I have to sit down with a content creator and help them plan out how their world is going to come to life in a new way.
We’re in production at the moment, working on a book meets game adaptation of a Charlaine Harris novel. It’s the first book in the Lily Bard series and follows the amateur sleuth Lily as she works to solve the mystery of who killed her landlord in the sleepy town of Shakespeare, Arkansas. What makes this an interesting project for me is that Lily is a sexual trauma survivor and deals with post-traumatic stress disorder – our job is to convey the mystery of the murder, but also to slowly reveal the mystery of her dark secret. Right now you’d find me prepping narrative for our voice over artists, editing text and bug testing.
[VH] What attracted you to work in tech? Was it a life-long dream, or was there some other factor that pushed you to it?
[JL] It wasn’t a life-long dream. I’m definitely more of a soft-skills person whose assets are relationship building, championing people and developing communication strategies. In my case, I joined forces with my husband Blair to start our studio. Prior to founding OMSG, Blair had worked at two of the largest game studios in the world and after a near death experience, we decided to return to his hometown and do something that was meaningful and would have an impact. That’s when I went into coaching, speaking and comedy full time. I even taught laughter yoga sessions. It was really clear that my talents for connecting with people would be a gift on the operations side of the business and together we’ve raised over $500,000 CAD over 4 years to develop our platform for authors.
It can be a challenge for me, mentally, to attend a women in tech event sometimes because I’m not the programmer or engineer like so many in the room. Where I step out of that thinking is to recognize that the contributions I make to our software are valuable – I’m helping shape the UX/UI, developing new features, and doing the customer discovery, which is important work. Yes, I do code but I am not implementing code on our platform.
What keeps me in my role and in this industry is the work we do with our youth creators – we’ve run summer camps with kids and taught them how to write, draw and code their own story-based games. I love hearing that they want to go on to be in the games industry or become programmers because they got their first exposure to code and had so much fun. Teaching kids how to code is incredibly rewarding.
[VH] There’s a lot of buzz around “building your community” as key to being successful in tech. What does your “community” look like? Who are the people you look for feedback from? Or, who are the people at work or elsewhere that you can rely on?
To read the full interview, click here: https://drivingwomenintech.com/2018/07/18/voices-of-women-in-tech-interview-with-jean-leggett/