Tuesday, March 5, 2024
DIGIPRIDE 2021Spotlight Interviews

Spotlight Interview: Charleyy Hodson

Charleyy Hodson is the Social Media Manager & Events Lead for Xbox UK/Ireland, so if you’ve seen any Xbox UKI social posts, ads or events, then she’s likely been the one behind them!

Charleyy recently joined us for an episode of the Gayming Podcast Live as a special guest at the top of the show. You can watch back the whole episode below, but we enjoyed chatting to her so much that we decided that 15 minutes just wasn’t long enough to get to know her.

I wanted to dig a bit further into Charleyy’s work and her life as an out and proud bi woman in the games industry.

Hey Charleyy, thanks for joining me today. Let’s start out with you introducing yourself to our readers.

Hello! My name is Charleyy Hodson, I’m a big gay nerd who lives in London and works for Xbox UKI! I’m also a mom to my beautiful daughter Scarlett and two cats, Raven and Handsome Jack.

What is your current role in the industry? 

I’m the Social Media Manager & Events Lead for Xbox UK/Ireland. I was the community manager for three years prior to this role, but now I have the incredible task of leading the social team across all platforms with a focus on strategy, our iconic tone of voice and how to spread the incredible news about our Xbox journey with our hardcore fans via Xbox On! And, now that we’re looking ahead to easing out of lockdown, I get to finally work my events muscles and think about how and where Xbox can turn up in UKI so we can all get together safely and play games.

For those that aren’t aware, can you summarise the role of a community manager? 

Community management really isn’t what it used to be years ago. When I first started, I had the impression that community management was posting and replying to posts on social media – but it’s really so much more. It’s customer support. It’s being accessible/available to gamers who need help. It’s having your finger on the cultural pulse of the world to make memes or cultural moments land correctly without damaging the brand. It’s working strategically to craft paid media adverts to serve the right demographic for your products. It’s putting in long hours during events to share content and generate hype. It’s being everywhere, all at once… but always seeing people who aren’t happy shouting louder than everyone else. It’s tough.

Inside Xbox at gamescom 2019
What was your journey that got you to the position you’re in today? 

Before Xbox UKI, I was working at Global Radio on websites writing about YouTubers and gaming with news, opinion pieces, quizzes – you name it! I worked in my free time to get myself networking with the games industry so I could bolster my LinkedIn profile, and out of nowhere I was contacted by Edelman’s PR agency to interview for their gaming social and PR team, with our client being Xbox UKI. There were about two to three interview phases before being given a task to complete. I remember creating a huge social presentation while on holiday in Disneyland Paris, coming home exhausted and smashing my interview! The rest is history!

Have you always been openly bisexual in the industry?

I would say that it has only been in the past five years that I have come to terms with my bisexuality, and I have always been very public and proud of this part of my life. While I amplify other queer voices where possible, I find it tough to share my own as I have been in a ten year hetero relationship with the love of my life, so this coupled with a child does make me feel some what invisible when it comes to my queerness – but it doesn’t stop me from expressing this side of myself and embracing others.

Xbox Series XS Launch Livestream
As a bi female on screen, how do you find that life? What are the good and bad points of being so visible? 

My other half jokes that visbily, I tick all the bisexual boxes to let people know that I’m here and I’m queer: coloured hair, undercut, tattoos, obnoxious makeup and huge glasses! I do agree! But particularly when it comes to streaming on Twitch, and any new folks who come by my stream, if I mention in passing my attraction to characters in a game, or crafting queer relationships with women in narratives, I have in the past been called out for queer-baiting and “playing it gay” for the camera, because my bisexuality is erased due to my relationship status with a man. Other than that, it has never held me back; perhaps for the reason just stated.

Charleyy with Phil Spencer at Microsoft Store London Launch
What would be your advice for a young LGBTQ person starting out or looking to get into the video games industry?

Be an advocate for your queerness, find your place with other queer gaming groups and network your arse off! Be that a streamer, a dev, a community manager, an actor, a journalist – specialist groups exist everywhere and will give you a wealth of insight into the role of your choosing. Following that, work on making yourself a vital piece of the puzzle that is missing from any role you apply for – spotlight where your talents and skills would uplift teams where you interview to join, and ensure as well that that organisation has a diverse and inclusive environment to fit your needs too. It’s a 2-way relationship!

What more can the video games industry do to support its LGBTQ industry workers? 

Organisations should be more transparent about the diversity within their groups and pledge to fix divides by hiring and including a wider array of perspectives and representation. Reaching out to specialist groups to uplift young and fresh talent is incredibly important as well to bring new voices into an industry that needs shaking up a bit. 

Hosting the MCV Women In Games Awards in 2020 with Elle Osili-Wood
What was your earliest memory of video games as a child?

I remember playing a Game Boy Colour and spending HOURS of my life on Pokemon Red, hoping to one day meet someone with Pokemon Blue so I could use the Link Cable I carried around with me everywhere… spoiler: I never did. But my first gaming influence was my dad, and how we’d gather around the family PC and play Command & Conquer, which then led onto Theme Hospital and The Sims.

I didn’t get into console gaming until the Xbox 360 era, and I would say that Fable 2 was the very first game I played where I didn’t feel like I was just playing a game, but I was living and breathing an entire experience.

What was the one game that defined your childhood?

I mentioned it already, but I genuinely think Theme Hospital or Command & Conquer might be the game that defined my childhood. Looking at titles I gravitate to today, these icons certainly sparked a love early on for RTS/strategy games which eventually led to me finding other games I have adored such as Age of Empires and Diablo.

Charleyy up in lights on Piccadilly Circus for Xbox On
What are you currently playing?

My Game of the Year for 2020 was Yakuza Like A Dragon, so honestly I’m still playing that nonstop and trying to get every single achievement. Speaking of which, I’m a huge achievement hunter and I’m aiming to reach that 200,000 Gamerscore by the end of the year! As well as this, my regular rotation of games includes Forza Horizon 4, The Sims 4 and I’m currently playing through all the Halo games for the very first time!

What does the future hold for you? 

Number one on my bucket list is to appear on the stage at E3 to present something – I don’t know what, why or when, but I would absolutely love to represent the brand I love at something so industry-leading. Other than that, my focus at the moment is accessibility on social media and making sure everything we produce is welcome to all users, in addition to echoing the amazing work the Social Good team do in the US and making it work for the UK to really reinforce our core mission that gaming is for everyone.

Robin Gray

[He/Him] Robin is the Founder of Gayming Magazine. He's on a mission to fly the LGBTQ flag proudly over the video games world and drive forward authentic representation in the industry, in the press and in the games we love.