We grabbed coffee with our EVP Cary Kwok to talk about launching BerlinRosen’s Gaming, Digital Entertainment and Lifestyle division. Plus: she shares what is gaming PR 3.0, her experience as an Asian-American woman in the industry, and her even love for the Resident Evil series.
How do you like your coffee?
Hazelnut coffee with soy or nonfat milk.
What drew you to a career in gaming?
I tell everyone that I was actually a gamer, and no one really believes me. That’s because I don’t “look like” one. Gaming has evolved dramatically in the last 20 years. And when I used to play video games all the time, versus now that I’m a mom and don’t really have as much time to play, the audiences have changed so much.
But gaming was a big part of my younger life. When I was in my early twenties, I spent so much time playing video games with my friends. It just has a special place in my heart. I wanted to do something that is related to gaming, even though I did not know that you could actually turn gaming into a career. And that’s where I am.
What has your experience as an Asian-American woman in a white male-dominated gaming industry been like?
There’s research showing that about 50 percent of gamers are women, but in terms of women who actually work in the industry, it’s only 24 percent. So women in general are definitely underrepresented in the gaming industry, let alone people of color who are also women. And that is a big challenge in the industry, and I’ve been very fortunate that I stuck with what I love and was able to go through all the ups and downs and get to where I am right now, where I can create a vision and help more companies to do this.
But it’s not easy because you just don’t have that same level of representation. And a lot of times when you walk into a planning meeting, it’s a room full of males, and trying to make sure that you’re being heard and really showing that you’ve earned that seat at the table is not easy. Throughout these years,I have had so many pep talks before I walk into the room to make sure that I feel confident going in there.
What trends are you most excited about in the industry?
It is so exciting to see that there are many next-generation gaming studios and startups being formed. These founders, many of them are women, are industry veterans who have taken upon themselves to create a much more inclusive culture within the gaming industry. The efforts really touch my heart as I deeply care about this industry.
Why did you join BerlinRosen?
Culturally, we live to abide by norms and values until something sparks from within and we are urged to pursue something different. This is how I started in PR, and years later, I find myself with an abundance of new meaning, driving me to pivot my plan. Rather than sticking to the script, I took a chance, trusted my gut and executed on intuition—building a gaming, digital entertainment and lifestyle tech PR practice from the ground up that finally incorporates my value, my philosophy, and my “why” in everything I do.
What’s your approach to gaming PR?
Gaming PR isn’t just about the games. Traditional corporate and consumer communications through game enthusiast outlets alone is no longer enough to reach the modern gaming consumer. Today, stories and genuine efforts in areas such as diversity and inclusion, social impact and altruism are just as important in reaching and connecting with audiences as launching games or hosting events.
PR should hold a personalized, empathetic and inclusive undertone. Brands that built on their “why” are brands built to last. By sharing life stories and experiences, we embrace vulnerability and create connections. When we adopt this approach at a business level, brand messages become clearer, and consumer trust and loyalty emerge.
Tell me a little more about what gaming PR 3.0 is about?
Gaming PR 1.0 was dependent on endemic and occasionally mainstream media coverage to reach consumers. Gaming PR 2.0 gave us the tools to meet consumers on their turf through social platforms and in a way that matters to them. As consumers demand more quality, accountability and leadership from game makers, gaming PR must evolve again. Gaming PR 3.0 brings together previously disparate PR disciplines—product, brand, corporate and internal—into a unified communications program where each element feeds off the other’s success.
Which life-changing moment helped shape who you are today?
Bridging my personal love for gaming and technology with professional PR expertise for 20+ years, I have continued to thrive in an ever-growing, ever-changing field while learning more about myself than I have ever expected along the way.
As an Asian American woman who has navigated her way through career obstacles and created an identity for herself, I have come to understand my greater calling—to champion for change and advocate for diversity and inclusion through the work I do and the skills I have.
⚡️ Fast Facts
Last TV show I binge-watched: “Cesar Millan: Better Human Better Dog”
Favorite video game: Resident Evil!!!
Restaurant I’d recommend to close friends: Shabu Shabu House in Los Angeles
Best album ever: “The Phantom of the Opera” soundtrack
Book that changed me: Disrupting the Game: From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo
Movie I’d see again and again: “The Exorcist”
My heroes are… My mom and my daughter
Advice I’d tell my young self: “If at first you don’t succeed, fix your ponytail and try again.”