Nearly half of gamers today are women, and women over 18 play more games than boys under 17. But they’re not just playing the games; they’re building them, and in doing so, leading the charge in creating memorable user experiences, highly engaging mobile gaming, and blockbuster console games.
With the growing influence of women in gaming, we thought it would be interesting to talk to two women that are making it happen in the industry today. We call them “game devas.”
Here’s what Tiana Los, Senior User Experience (UX) Designer with Yoh, and Liz Kirby, a 3-D environment artist, had to say about working in the gaming industry.
Yoh Insider: What excites you about working in the gaming industry?
Tiana Los: I thrive on variety and the fast-paced environment. The gaming industry is constantly evolving and incorporating the latest technology while pushing the boundaries of the gaming experience. Games are no longer relegated to the couch or computer; the gaming experience can be continued or enhanced with the web and mobile experience. It's exciting that I have the opportunity to work on extending the gamer's experience online via web and mobile.
Liz Kirby: Working on games! Being able to make games professionally is just so exciting in itself because I'm doing what I love for a living. The sheer amount of talent that surrounds you in a game studio is also exciting. I'm humbled every day. I remember meeting somebody who had worked on my favorite childhood game, and screaming on the inside with excitement. I was able to talk to him and hear firsthand stories about the game's development, and it was just so cool.
Yoh Insider: What are the key skills or talents needed to be successful in the gaming industry?
Tiana: Hard skills and talent are crucial to landing a job in the gaming industry. However, soft skills such as flexibility, communication, and collaboration are essential to success. Key skills are determined by the role; however, attention to detail and accountability are universally expected. It is extremely useful to have more than one set of skills. For example, I often rely on my user experience and user interface skills, which are related but are considered two separate disciplines. I have extensive front-end development skills, which I might not use in my current role. However, my development skills provide a deeper understanding when challenges arise.
Liz: You have to be extremely adaptive and keep up with the latest trends and technology. I also can't stress this enough...but networking. You need to be good at networking. Even if you're already in the industry, knowing somebody is more than half the battle in getting your next gig. The industry is small, but it's highly competitive with thousands of hopefuls trying to enter every year, so visibility is essential.
Yoh Insider: What advice would you give to an aspiring game developer?
Tiana: First and foremost, be passionate about games. Education is good, but actual experience and a portfolio are most important. Concept art, 3-D modeling, animation, audio, user interface, and development are a few of the many fields within game development. Pick an area of game development that sounds exciting and learn all that you can. Thanks to free modeling software, game engines, and online resources, anyone can become a self-taught game developer. The only cost of excellence is your time and dedication. Research game companies and the open employment positions to find out what software experience and skills are desirable for specific roles. Portfolios and personal game projects indicate that you are a driven candidate and have a record of completion. Never stop learning. The game industry is constantly growing, and so should your skills.
Liz: Always grow your skills, ALWAYS. Don't settle, don't drive yourself into a niche, and keep up-to-date with the latest tech. A number of artists tend to focus on one thing. I have interests I stick to, but in a work environment it's very limiting if you can only do one thing. I'm not saying environment artists should also be able to rig and animate (though it does come in handy), just to try a wider range of subject matter. (And learn a game engine! Even if you're an artist, learn a game engine!) Also, network like crazy! Be good to the people around you. Be a regular on a forum or go to big events like GDC. Just don't be afraid to put yourself out there, be seen!