Pride Month Employee Spotlight: Ahindrila Das (she/they)
As we celebrate Pride Month in June, Zynga is proud to spotlight members of zPride, an LGBTQ+ employee resource group of more than 300 participants. Since 2010, zPride and their allies have been collaborating together to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment in gaming and beyond. We are honored to share their powerful narratives as they reflect on their personal journeys and discuss how they are creating affirmative spaces for everyone to show up as their authentic selves.
Today, we are spotlighting Ahindrila Das, a Senior Producer on the Words with Friends team. Read on to her advice to LGBTQ+ individuals looking to pursue a career in gaming.
Tell us what you do at Zynga and what you do for fun outside of work.
As a game producer, I plan and schedule projects for my team, which consists of members of different creative and technical functions. Producers are involved in all stages of game development. While my role requires me to ensure all the project deliverables are on schedule and timelines are effectively met, it is also my responsibility to facilitate smooth and open communication within the team, and to build a healthy work culture.
And for fun, I consume all kinds of comedic content from TV shows, movies, improv, reels to books… I love to design my outfits, and up-cycle them when I can. I have been training in various forms of dance since I was four years old, but with my recent relocation I had to pause for a while. I hope to resume that soon! Additionally, I absolutely need to travel to new places, try new cuisines, meet more people, and critique everything! 😀
What has been helpful or valuable for you to see in gaming when your personal identity was first taking shape?
Early career coaching is a very useful tool to help you manage your energies at the workplace and to create a successful career roadmap. I have had the good fortune to benefit from our company-sponsored coaching programs in the past few years, which have helped me thwart any feelings of isolation and develop my confidence.
During my time at Zynga, I have seen our employee resource groups grow in number, participation, and engagement – there is a place for everyone to be themselves and to enjoy a sense of community. But there’s more to be done when it comes to increasing representation, not just in games but in game development as well, but we are headed in the right direction.
Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in the gaming industry?
My husband did! It makes me shudder to think that I had almost convinced him to not join the industry back in 2014! 😀 I owe my growth and success entirely to him. I wouldn’t have applied to Zynga if not for his support and encouragement, along with some good career counseling during a very tough time in my life.
How do you see your work contributing to creating more diverse and inclusive gaming experiences?
No voice goes unheard if you are on my team. I establish a healthy environment where people can be honest about their thoughts and opinions while being respectful of each other. Providing equity where there is a lack of it, is very important to me. When people feel comfortable about sharing their ideas with the team, we are able to develop designs and products that are more creative and diverse.
How has the gaming industry evolved in terms of its representation of queer identities?
We have recently seen better queer representation in games than a decade ago. Programs such as Play With Pride are doing a brilliant job of improving awareness amongst our players. A lot of the depiction still feels subtle and we cannot call ourselves entirely inclusive — but as an industry, we are building our workplaces to accommodate more diverse employees, which is a great place to start! People before products — cause people make products!
What are your hopes for the future of the gaming industry in terms of representation and inclusion of queer identities?
I personally think this will improve a lot over the next few years. As more queer identifying individuals work in the industry, while being their true selves, we will see their representation amplified in the products we create. We all find a way to add some of our personality into the work we do, which makes it great! We need to continuously increase awareness to reach a point where acceptance is the norm and not the exception.
What advice would you give to other queer individuals interested in pursuing a career in the gaming industry?
You are not alone! You have allies, find them, be a part of the community. Find people who identify with you, reach out to them, ask to be coached and mentored! Even when you find the people who understand you, you may not always agree with them. That’s fine! Don’t hold back. Talk more, encourage others to talk more. Debate, argue, but don’t give up! Always ask for what you deserve, there’s a lot lost when you don’t ask. Rejection is not the worst thing. When you feel like you have hit the lowest point, just know it only gets better from there! <3
Learn how Zynga is celebrating the LGBTQ+ community year-round by visiting https://www.zynga.com/playwithpride.