LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD
Class of 2022 40 Under 40 Honoree Rejess Marshall (B.B.A. ’10, MBA ’19) is committed to creating diverse, inclusive environments in the workplace, in the video game industry — even in karaoke.
By Jordan Ferguson
If you’ve ever gotten lost in a game of “Killer Instinct, Season 2”, “Spyro Reignited Trilogy” or “Divekick” — the world’s first two-button fighting concept — on PlayStation or Xbox, you’ve touched some of work done by the game studio that employs Rejess Marshall’s (B.B.A. ’10, MBA ’19).
The Class of 2022 40 Under 40 honoree is the program manager for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility at gaming giant Iron Galaxy Studios, which has crafted and collaborated on more than 50 games for the industry’s most popular platforms.
As a Certified Accessible Player Experience Practitioner, Marshall is trained in developing video games that are accessible and welcoming to all users, including those with disabilities. In her post at Iron Galaxy, she’s committed to promoting that same atmosphere of inclusion, respect and collaboration among employees.
A career in gaming wasn’t always on Marshall’s radar. When the North Carolina native started on the Atlanta Campus in 2006, she had trouble pinpointing her interests and declaring a major. First, she thought actuary science could be a calling. Then she committed herself to risk management, completed a B.B.A. and pursued a profession in insurance. But her postgraduate jobs didn’t spark passion, and Marshall refused to settle.
“I was getting old,” she said. You know, you start taking stock of your life and asking, ‘What do I want to do forever?’ And I just realized I wanted to do something a lot more meaningful — something that impacted people’s day-to-day lives.”
Marshall returned to Georgia State a few years later with that goal in focus. Her next degree, an MBA in human resources and behavioral management, turned out to be the missing puzzle piece. She worked as an LGBTQ+ ambassador at Progressive Insurance — a field not too unfamiliar — before joining the team at Iron Galaxy.
As her first work anniversary there approaches, she’s just months away from releasing a beta test of her very own karaoke app. The app, called “Karaoke Noir,” celebrates all musical genres and, specifically, shines a light on Black voices — a corner of the industry she felt was missing.
“I didn’t feel like any of the apps out there captured the spirit of what Black music looks like or what it looks like when we gather to sing songs” Marshall explained. “I think music is such an integral part of the Black experience, and karaoke is a way to celebrate that just a little bit more.”
Karaoke Noir is an extension of her everyday work and values, spreading inclusivity across all cultures and among all users.
With all Marshall has accomplished, it’s no surprise her peers nominated her for the Georgia State Alumni Associations’ 40 Under 40 Awards — an honor she said has been on her bucket list.
Marshall credits her time at Georgia State with helping prepare her for roles that champion diversity and inclusion and challenge inequities and discrimination. A notable part of that came during her undergraduate years, when she served as an intercultural ambassador in the Office of Student Life and Leadership (now the Office of Student Engagement).
She’s thrilled to see her name on the awards’ program but also to see it rolling for the first time in the credits on Iron Galaxy’s latest game, a brand new 40-player Brawler Royale called “Rumbleverse”, which is soon to be released
“I’m just excited to see what opportunities come my way,” she said.
Photo by Dot Paul