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Rosethorn’s Ramblings: Site Update

Welcome back again.  As you can see, we are starting to populate the site with new content.  There are few new writers and contributors waiting in the wings with new content.  If you are interested

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Rosethorn’s Ramblings: Site Update, GaMExpo, Nerdvana Con, Life Updates

What to Watch: You Tube

Top 5 YouTube video’s of the past week (with one blast from the past). Each week, on Tuesday, I am going to post 5 videos I think are worth watching on YouTube.  I’d love to hear what you

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What to Watch: You Tube

Rosethorn’s Ramblings: Welcome Bac

Welcome back to Killer Betties! It’s been over three years since I’ve made a post, but I am back. Before I get to what I’ve been doing for three years, I want to talk first about The

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Rosethorn’s Ramblings: Welcome Back, TWD, The Bar, and Other Random Thoughts

Football Manager 2017 Review

Football Manager 2017 is a football management simulation video game for the PC developed by Sports Interactive and published by Sega. Gameplay: In terms of gameplay, it is really fun. You can create

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Football Manager 2017 Review

Volunteers Wanted

Killer Betties is going through some growing pains and we need more bodies (and pens) to keep up with it. If you have any interest in writing video game reviews, previews, interviews or editorials, p

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Volunteers Wanted

EA Ships ‘The Sims 2 Nightlife’

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by on September 14, 2005 at 8:36 pm

The Sims hit the town for an epic night out with the second expansion pack for the PC phenomenon, The Sims 2.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Sept. 13, 2005- Electronic Arts announced today that The Sims 2 Nightlife, the second expansion pack to the critically-acclaimed PC game The Sims 2, will ship starting today in North America under the EAT brand. The Sims 2, sequel to the best-selling PC franchise, The Sims, swept the world by storm in September 2004 by quickly becoming the fastest selling PC game of all time with sales over 5M units worldwide to date. Developed by the award winning EA-Maxis studio, The Sims 2 Nightlife adds over 125 new objects and all new gameplay elements such as sending your Sims on romantic dates or out on the town with their friends.

The Sims 2 Nightlife introduces the new Pleasure aspiration which allows Sims to lead a life filled with fun and exciting moments. Players will be able to turn their nightlife fantasies into reality while interacting with the new downtown locals and may even run into exotic new characters such as vampires and fortune tellers. To create their ultimate after-dark environment, players will find loads of new objects including a Karaoke machine, poker table, electro-dancesphere and DJ booth. A first for the franchise, cars are available for Sims to head out on the town or to their jobs in style. Also new is the dating gameplay and attraction system which helps Sims scope out the scene for potential love interests. Whether a Sim is destined to find the love of his life or just out for a night of fun, it’s sure to be a good time.

“We can’t wait to see the stories the players start to tell about their experiences in The Sims 2 Nightlife,” said Tim LeTourneau, Sr. Producer. “This pack gives players everything they need to expand their Sims’ social life and experience an ultimate night out on the town.”

The Sims 2 Nightlife will ship under the EAT brand and is rated “T” for Teen by the ESRB. The game will ship on September 13 in North America and starting September 9 in Europe. The Sims 2 is required to play The Sims 2 Nightlife. For the first time, players will also be able to experience The Sims 2 on PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox video game system from Microsoft, the Nintendo GameCube, and for all handhelds including the PSP handheld system, the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo Game Boy Advance and mobile phones later this fall.

Jason’s Comments: Where is the expansion pack for those who don’t like to go out and enjoy the nightlife? Where is ‘The Sims 2 Homebody’? I want to be able to pick whether I watch television or play a video game.

in Uncategorized

The Sim 2: University Coming To Mac

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by on August 24, 2005 at 11:45 am

Toga! Toga! Get your Animal House on with the upcoming release of The Sim 2: University on your Mac. Do you have what it takes to spend four years at The Sims college to get that great job?

Aspyr Media, Inc. announced today they will publish The Sims 2 University, the first expansion to The Sims 2, with an anticipated release in November 2005. The Sims 2 University is licensed by Electronic Arts and is being developed for Mac by Aspyr Studios.

Your Sims are taking over campus!

Your Sims are now young adults leaving home to live the ultimate college fantasy. Immerse them in college life as they become the Big Sim on Campus. They’ll relish their new-found freedom as they party with friends, join fraternities and sororities and pull outrageous pranks. Your Sims will explore all the campus hot-spots as they frequent lounges, gyms, coffee houses and more. Help them fulfill new lifetime goals to unlock more rewards and reap all of the benefits of their university years.

Sims 2 University Features:
* New Young Adult Age Group
* Become the Big Sim on Campus
* Earn Degrees to Open Up New Careers
* New “College Town”
* College Lifestyle
* Over 100 New Objects and D

in Uncategorized

‘True Crime New York City’ New Screenshots and a Bio added

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by on August 19, 2005 at 1:49 pm

New screenshots are available for True Crime: New York City’s El Barrio District, some of the new rides, and a bio of Lt. Deena Dixon are now available for your viewing pleasure.

Discuss this on our forums.

in Interviews

‘Hellgate: London’ at E3

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by on May 19, 2005 at 7:52 pm

Hellgate: London Preview
by Jordan McCoy, Staff Writer

Having left Blizzard some two years ago to found Flagship Studios, the talent responsible for the Diablo franchise have taken their unique vision of the dungeon crawl and flipped it into an first-person shooter.

Attempting to balance the random appeal and shear variety of those early games with an engaging and straightforward personal perspective, Hellgate: London seems ready to deliver on its promised virtues. Hellgate will directly appeal to those who enjoyed Diablo–much of the experience has survived translation, and gameplay seems both fluid and diverse from that perspective–but it remains to be seen whether it will appeal to a wider audience, a goal that seems evident in both its design and promotion.

We got the chance to play an early version of the game at E3, and while much remains to be completed by release (sometime next year), the gameplay and environment seems promising. Emphasis is placed on rapid exploration and engagement of the environment, diverse modification of one’s character and repeated gameplay through randomization. A wide variety of weapons and modifications can be found, and interesting tactics become available through multiplayer gameplay; Flagship is committed to a rich cooperative game, and so remains unsure whether player-vs-player action will become available.

Despite the first-person perspective, the effectiveness of one’s characters remains mostly the result of stats and items; most weapons do not require aiming and often affect multiple enemies at the same time. The interface allows one to target an enemy, then approach and fight them automatically; while not strictly necessary, it seems skill can and does play some part. Like the Diablo franchise, however, success is more a product of endurance then reflex; further, due to the first-person perspective, responsive environment and better AI, tactics seem to have a much more important role.

It is this combination that might serve to broaden the audience for Hellgate, assuming in the end that the game plays enjoyably and keeps one engaged. These games typically allow the storyline to fade into the background, and so the pace and variety of the action must serve to keep one playing. So while Hellgate may not, in the end, appeal directly to the hardcore shooter or hardcore RPG gamer, it should likely straddle the bulk of both markets quite well. Expect to see much more of Hellgate from Flagship, which is considering a public beta sometime early next year.

See more screenshots here.

in E3 2006, Interviews

Forza Motorsports Review (Xbox)

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by on May 16, 2005 at 11:49 am

For the longest time, the best racing simulation on the consoles has been Gran Turismo. I played the first, the second, and the third. I loved them all. I was excited to hear Gran Turismo 4 was coming… until last fall. I was at the Penny Arcade Expo, watching a kid play some random Xbox racing sim at the Microsoft Game Studios booth. It looked good, no doubt about it. The thing that caught my eye though was that his bumper was damaged and dangling from the back of his car. Damage had never been in Gran Turismo, and I loved this aspect in other racing games. The name of that racing sim was Forza. I went home after that and looked over the information available for it. On paper, it seemed to be everything I loved in Gran Turismo, plus a lot more. I played a demo of it at a local Gamestop. It must have impressed me enough, I bought an Xbox the day Forza shipped.

It doesn’t take long to realize the basic gameplay is almost identical to Gran Turismo. You have various events that require certain cars. You have many upgrades and options for tuning the cars to maximize their potential in these races. The similarity ends here though. In order to play future races in Gran Turismo, you were required to beat certain races to acquire a bigger license rating, but not in Forza. Instead your driver gets experience based on how much earnings he wins in a race, and future events are unlocked at higher levels. For instance, there are several races that require your driver to be level 10.

The first thing you do when you first play Forza is make a couple choices. In the beginning you must choose a home region(North America, Asia, Europe), which will dictate the prices and availability of cars and parts. This choice brings you to your next choice, which is deciding on your very first car. You have a little over $20,000, just enough to buy any starter car. Some of the starter cars are pretty bad, but some are actually pretty good. I chose Europe and could get an Audi TT. It’s no supercar, but at least it’s not a slow hatchback. They explain in the manual that some cars will be common everywhere, and thus will be cheap everywhere. Some cars are only common in certain regions, so they will be cheaper in that region and normal price everywhere else. Some cars are rare in all regions, and thus are more expensive than other cars. Along with other statistics of your car, you have a rarity rating. This rating improves when you get upgrades for the car. Your earnings at the end of each race also improves due to a bonus based on how rare your car is. You have to spend money to make money after all.

There is a highly adjustable difficulty system. The harder you make the game, the more earnings you will receive in each race. You may need to adjust settings for a balance of difficulty. For example, you can turn off the stability assistance to net a 10% increase in earnings, while taking off fuel/tire pit stops in endurance races for a net loss of 25% earnings. The better you get, the more challenging you may want to make it so that you can get that cash faster.

The usual tuning upgrades we have come to expect are in Forza, plus a lot more in the visual department. There are complete body kits to purchase, various spoilers that affect down force differently, window tint, wheels, and more. There is also the best editor ever in any racing sim for customizing your paint and creating decals. In Need For Speed: Underground you can customize about 4 layers on your car. Comparatively, in Forza you have 600 layers to work with.

If you choose to turn on simulation damage you’ll experience a whole new racing game. If you hit a wall head on, you may your headlights shattered or your bumper barely hanging on — depending on how hard you hit the wall. Smash in one of your fenders and your car might want to turn right all the time. You’ll also take a hit to your earnings at the end, as the repair bill is taken right out of whatever credits you may have earned.

Something Gran Turismo has always been lacking is multiplayer. In Forza, the developers went all out on it. You can race online via Xbox Live for credits that you can use in your single player career. The best part of playing Forza online is probably the ability to swap parts and cars with other people. This can be a cheaper way to get parts for your car or a way to get more money for a car you want to sell. The ELO ranking system is used to determine who races who online, so you never have to worry about being put up against much better race drivers. It takes in account many variables to determine who you should drive against, such as how much a win or lose could help or hurt you.

All is not perfect, there are a couple quirks with the game. Sometimes it seems I am touching another car even when I can see we aren’t touching. That is made worse by how badly this affects your driving. Barely touching another car or a wall seems to just spin your car out of control, something I’ve never seen happen so drastically in a race before. In a game like this, losing control means you lose the race. This has been a huge frustration for me. Another big frustration is, I never have enough money! I have to redo races I’ve already beaten just to make enough money to get a couple upgrades that might be enough for another car to win a race I haven’t done yet. Due to restrictions on races, I have to find some way to spread out $4000 in earnings across 5 cars, when a single part could cost more than that. I think higher earnings per race could help.

Is Forza a winner? Definitely. I think any Xbox user should grab this game if they haven’t already. It’s few frustrations are greatly outweighed by the reward of hours of fun gameplay.

RATING: 5 out of 5
Our Scoring System

in Game Review

Killer Women: Sheri Pocilujko

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by on April 6, 2005 at 9:16 am

Women who are gainfully employed in the games industry are becoming more and more common. The assumption that video games are a man’s domain is finally becoming outdated. Women are playing and working with video games in astounding numbers. According to the ESA, 39% of game players are women. While the percentage of women working in the industry is still small, these women are paving the way for equality in this environment as well. More and more young women are going to technical schools and getting hired by game developers who see the value of a female perspective when creating video games.

So, how did these women get started and why do they do it? Those are the questions I want answers to, so I ask. This will be a continuing series of profiles of the women who have broken stereotypes and taken jobs in the video game industry.

Sheri Pocilujko is a Game Designer for High Voltage Software. How did she get started and what does she do? Read on to find out.

Name: Sheri Pocilujko
Title: Game Designer
Company: High Voltage Software

What’s your earliest memory of video games?

I remember playing on an Atari 2600 growing up as a kid. In fact we even got a second Atari at one point to handle all the gaming needs. I could play for hours on the Atari (who said girls only want dolls!). I also had a NES, SNES, and an Apple IIGS growing up before we got a full-fledged PC. Even outside of video games I was brought up in a gaming household. We played card and board games ALL the time. It was one of the regular ways our family spent time together. In fact even now every family get together usually ends with a game of Trivial Pursuit or some other game if everyone’s not in the mood for trivia. (Sequence has been a good one because of the younger kids in the family.)

What kind of education do you have and has it prepared you well for this industry?

I currently have an Associate of Arts and I’m working towards a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Project Management. I’ve taken a lot of business courses for management, marketing, etc. and continuing education classes in communication skills, time management, etc. I think the variety of classes I’ve taken has prepared me well for this industry because it has given me many different perspectives.

Coming in to the industry with a lot of business classes helps me understand the business aspects that often frustrate developers. It helps you understand why sometimes the “suits” will make some of the decisions they do, regardless of the current state of the game you are working on.

What type of work did you do before you got into the industry and what jobs in the industry have you held?

Wow. My first real job (besides babysitting…) was as a bank teller. From there I started doing Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, and Credit and Collections work (collections is not fun!). My main job previous to this one was mostly Quality Assurance, but at that company I also got to do a lot of other jobs including product, marketing, sales, web, and customer support. It was a unique experience that really let me challenge myself. Now here at High Voltage Software I’m getting challenged even further by being a game designer. Game designers at High Voltage get to be responsible for a lot of different things here and it makes the job interesting and really lets out my creative side.

Was your entry into working with video games planned or chance?

Chance. My boyfriend at the time was a programmer for a video game company and he liked to work the 11-7 shift where as my normal “corporate” job had me working 8-5. So after my shift I’d head over to his company and play the game in his cube and help him find crashes. Being the analytical person I am, I started making my own notes, catching typos, trying unique things out, and finding crashes, etc. all on my own. The project manager, who was also the VP of Product Development, over at the company saw this and said “why don’t you come work for us and get paid for what you’re doing for free already?” (Thanks Larry!) The rest, as they say, is history.

How long have you been working in the industry?

Just a little over 5 years, but I hope to stay in it a lot longer!

What does your job entail? What is an average day like?

High Voltage current tasks has me helping place cameras in levels to guide game play and helping to create in-game cinemas in each level. Just prior to that, I was working on a project by designing feature and level ideas as well as placing objects in levels.

Tell us about the most interesting or exciting moment for you in your job.

I think it’s hard to pick just one but I’d probably have to go with the somewhat cliché answer of seeing someone excited while playing a game you helped create. It makes a lot of those tough moments during the development cycle more bearable.

What is your least favorite thing about working in the industry?

Overtime! But wouldn’t everyone say that? Seriously though, I think sometimes seeing a game you care so much about not do as well in the market as everyone hoped would probably be the least favorite thing.

What is the one misconception you feel people have about working in the industry in your type of position?

Pardon the punned expression but that it’s “all fun and games”. You do get to express your creativity but you also need to be very detail oriented and have the ability to communicate your internal vision externally. Take your favorite game and think about what is in that game. Someone had to sit down and write out a list of every object that game would have, what the object would look like, where it would be placed, what it would act like when the player tried to interact with it, what other attributes it would have, etc. And that’s just for objects….

Do you feel you are advantaged or disadvantaged as a female in an industry so dominated by men?

Is “both” an OK answer? I think as a female in this industry there are distinct advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes a developer will come pick my brain as far as a feature or idea he has when he is looking to make it more female-friendly. Although most female developers are probably not your stereotypical female gamer (or casual gamer) in a lot of cases we can innately point out things that might offend the general female audience.

The disadvantage is that when you are dealing with an issue you think would be sensitive to females and you are surrounded by men it can be hard to persuade them. For example, at a previous company I was working on a game where there was some AVIs featuring real life people. The one female in the AVI had a shot where you accidentally see her bra exposed. Although some women would be totally fine with that many women would not, and I don’t think the person featured was asked about the situation. The problem with getting the issue taken care of was I was surrounded by a lot of males who said they’d have no problem if their boxers were accidentally showing and “It’s just clothing.” So in certain cases I’ve gotten a lot of “You wouldn’t understand” type comments or looks. Sometimes you’re also kept out of certain e-mail circles and jokes because they think you might not feel comfortable.

As long as you show them what you are or are not willing to handle though most male developers seem to open up quite nicely. We’ve found on a lot of the dev lists that most male developers just want to know the rules, then they’ll follow them (as long as you’re not going overboard). I’ve also lucked out because High Voltage seems to have a growing base of female developers as well in various disciplines so I’m not alone here.

Do you consider yourself a hardcore gamer?

I am definitely not a hardcore gamer, I’ve known some co-workers who after an 12 hour day still go home to put in at least 6 hours of gaming, so I’ll never be hardcore. The hours I play vary depending on what other things I have going on in my life (school, IGDA work, friends, etc.) and if you count board/card games the numbers jump because I play those a lot too!

What settings and genres do you enjoy most? Least?

I love RPG games (usually the hack and slash ones) and I am a big Dead or Alive fan so I like fighters, but that one is the best out of all of them. I think some of the “all we care about is as much violence and gore as possible” games are the ones I enjoy the least. Although I don’t mind violence or occasional gore, if it is just thrown in there to have it and doesn’t make gameplay sense then the game doesn’t make sense to me.

If you could pick one game as the best game ever, what would it be?

Wow….it is even possible to answer that question? I mean I may think Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore was the best fighter I’ve played but not necessarily the best game. And you can’t compare Dr. Mario with Dead or Alive or Baldur’s Gate or any other game not in that genre. City of Heroes was great too, would be great still if I had more time. Can I plead the fifth on this one? 🙂

If you could tell developers of games to make sure to put one thing in games to appeal to a broader audience which includes women, what would that one thing be?

I think most of what you put in a game that would attract female gamers (who are typically more casual gamers) would attract casual gamers. So I think it’s not just keep gender but type in mind. The majority of people who buy games are not hardcore gamers, so keep an eye out for your UI, tutorials, manuals, etc.

Do you have an opinion about the current state of the industry with regard to females and gaming?

Females make up 51% of the world’s population. Each year they continue to make up a larger percentage of the game playing population. (They are over 60% in Korea alone!) If executives, marketing, and the developers themselves continue to dismiss females as a part of their various market segments then they are crippling the industry’s potential to grow and furthering the saturation of audience.

If you can talk about it, can you tell us some about the project you are currently working on?

No can do, sorry. The most I can say is I’m working on an adventure-platform game to be released on multiple platforms. Though my project manager would like me to tell you that “it will most likely be the greatest game that the world has ever known!!! :)”

Do you have any advice for females who would like to get into the industry?

Never settle for anything less than what you really want. Don’t be afraid just because you’re the only girl in the room. Get involved in the industry so you can learn not only what in your portfolio and skill sets to improve, but also who you need to know. That last part is huge; a lot of this business is not what you know but who you know.

What are your favorite games?

Favorite Games: Dead or Alive (any of them), Kingdom Hearts (until the part I got lost in near the end), Dungeon Keeper (I’ve found myself oddly addicted to that game), and Progress Quest – the best satire of an MMO ever! But that’s just video games. I also like spades, hearts, rummy, gin, canasta, Axis and Allies, Scrabble, chess, Sorry, and a whole host of other board, card, and tabletop games that I play regularly with friends.

Favorite movies?

Favorite Movies: Princess Bride – One of the top 10 movies of all time!, The Lion King, Dead Poets Society, any Pixar movie, City of Angels (English version), the whole LOTR trilogy, and a few others make my top list.

Favorite Authors?

Favorite Authors: Roger Zelazny (Amber), Robert Aspirin (MYTH), Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman (Dragonlance), CS Lewis (Narnia), Terry Brooks (Landover ), A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh), and many others. I read a lot of non-fiction books too but those aren’t exactly popping names out to me at the moment.

Inspirations?

Inspirations: Dance, Music, Theater, Musical Theater, Movies, Video Games, Books, Friends, Life – you can find an inspiration almost anywhere if you look for it.

What do you like doing in your free time?

Free Time: Wait, did you say we’re supposed to have free time? When I’m not at work or doing my online classes I’m playing games with friends or doing work in the industry or trying to keep my place from looking like a mess. When I can I try to travel, even if it is not that far away. And most of all I >LOVE< my TiVo! TiVo rules! I can't live without my TiVo! (Did I mention I love TiVo? *grins*)

in Interviews

Killer Women: Heather Logas

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by on March 22, 2005 at 11:21 am

Women who are gainfully employed in the games industry are becoming more and more common. The assumption that video games are a man’s domain is finally becoming outdated. Women are playing and working with video games in astounding numbers. According to the ESA, 39% of game players are women. While the percentage of women working in the industry is still small, these women are paving the way for equality in this environment as well. More and more young women are going to technical schools and getting hired by game developers who see the value of a female perspective when creating video games.

So, how did these women get started and why do they do it? Those are the questions I want answers to, so I ask. This will be a continuing series of profiles of the women who have broken stereotypes and taken jobs in the video game industry.

Heather Logas currently works for Telltale Games as a Game Designer. Curious about what that is? Read on.

Name: Heather L Logas
Title: Game Designer
Company: Telltale Games

What is your earliest memory of video games?

My earliest memory of video games was when my mom brought home our Atari 800. My sister and I were very young. I still remember the cover image on the box for Pac-Man, and my mom asking if this was “the right one?” I guess we had seen them on TV.

Did you grow up on games or did you find them later in your life?

We grew up playing board games with my parents. We had a closet full of games. Sometimes this would cause a problem, because they would fall on our heads when we tried to get a particular one out.

What kind of education do you have and has it prepared you well for this industry?

My undergraduate degree is in Art with a Conceptual Information Arts emphasis from San Francisco State University. This was a new media degree where I learned a lot about media and culture and also picked up a few technical skills. I then went on to Georgia Institute of Technology and got a Master’s Degree in Information Design and Technology. This was another pretty flexible new media program where I was able to study games like crazy. Both programs helped prepare me for the industry. Growing up a gamer was a vital part of my education as well.

What type of work did you do before you got into the industry and what jobs in the industry have you held?

I did a bit of everything before getting involved in the industry. Retail, administration, science museum docent. My last job before graduate school was working in a living history program acting the part of a sailor in 1906 on a tall ship and teaching kids about sailor life, teamwork, self-esteem and leadership.

My first “industry” job is in quotes because it was a start up making a huge MMORPG and none of us had a clue what we were doing. Needless to say, it didn’t last very long. I was a world designer there. I had an internship as an assistant producer at LucasArts on Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, and now I’m happily working as a game designer at Telltale.

Was your entry into working with video games planned or chance?

A bit of both. I knew I was interested in games, and my two last projects at SF State were both games, but I went to Tech with it in my mind that I was going to study Virtual Reality. I guess I thought it sounded cooler at the time. But I quickly got involved in games at Tech and realized after attending my first GDC that gaming was where I wanted to be. I had spent my life up to that point sort of picking life goals but never being very passionate about them. Something wouldn’t sound as neat as it did the previous week, or something else would catch my attention. Games are the first things that have really stuck with me. I am endlessly fascinated by them.

How long have you been working in the industry?

I really only consider myself to have been “in the industry” since starting work at Telltale. So that would be maybe seven months now.

What does your job entail?

As a designer, most of my work involves translating stuff from my head into a useable format by other people. So I tend to do a lot of writing and diagramming of spaces, interfaces, etc. I also spend a fair amount of time in meetings with various team members to hash out design details and other aspects of the game. We do a lot of things pretty collaboratively. Most days I also spend at least some time working on PR or marketing stuff, because we are still a pretty small company and everyone has to help out where they can. I don’t mind, it keeps things interesting.

Tell us about the most interesting or exciting moment for you in your job.

I get really excited when I come up with a solution that I really like to a tricky design problem. There’s also a great charge that comes with seeing something that was previously only written down on paper be translated into the game space.

What is your least favorite thing about working in the industry?

I tend to get frustrated by the arrogance I sometimes find in the industry. Many people are really open to new ideas, but too many are ignorant of what goes on in academia or the gaming world at large and don’t feel that anything outside of their own experience is relevant to what they do. There is a whole universe of games that don’t live on computers or consoles, and there is a whole discipline studying games in great detail. Embracing all of this information can only make someone a better game designer. (There are also those that aren’t arrogant so much as just un-informed, and they aren’t nearly as irritating.

What is the one misconception you feel people have about working in the industry in your type of position?

No one who isn’t in the industry and isn’t a gamer themselves has any idea what I do.  They always try to ask if I’m a programmer or an artist. The conceptualizing part is sort of hard to grasp.

Do you feel you are advantaged or disadvantaged as a female in an industry so dominated by men?

Being a woman in the industry is really great on one hand because there are all these other great women to get advice from and commiserate with. I definitely think there is camaraderie amongst the women in the industry and we have a tendency to look out for each other and help each other out where we can. There are also some people in the industry who are seriously interested in getting women more involved, and that can sometimes work to a woman’s benefit.

On the other hand, I think it is hard for women being in a male dominated culture because it is hard for both you and them to know when you have a legitimate complaint about something and when you are being over sensitive. As an intern at LucasArts, I complained about a certain outfit for one of the female characters on the game I was working on over and over, but I feel I was shrugged off because it wasn’t taken as a legitimate complaint. I have also been around some mildly sexist (meant to be in jest) behavior which I wasn’t sure whether it was worth it to say anything or whether I was being a bit too oversensitive. It’s a hard line to draw sometimes.

Do you consider yourself a hardcore gamer?

I am absolutely a hardcore gamer. If not for the amount of time I currently play games then for the breadth of games I have enjoyed (and enjoy) and the depth to which I enjoy them. Currently I spend maybe 10 – 15 hours a week playing games (on average). But almost all my time thinking about them.

What settings and genres do you enjoy most? Least?

I really enjoy games with interesting stories/worlds and interesting types of Gameplay. I seek out things that are different from things I’ve played before, and different from what the market at large is making. I also will play almost anything that involves pirates. I am obsessed with MMORPGs, but pretty much hate them all (except for Puzzle Pirates.)

There are some 1st person shooters I would like to try, but I can’t deal with not having peripheral vision. I wind up craning my neck trying to look around the edges of the screen. I also am not a fan of games that simulate real world modern warfare or sports. The sports games just don’t interest me, and the war games make me sad and depressed. They are too close to the reality of people who are actually suffering and dying, and to me it feels insensitive to be playing a game about it.

If you could pick one game as the best game ever, what would it be?

Oh my goodness! What a question! There are so many great games in the world!

I’ll say Dungeons & Dragons. It introduced a whole new way to think about games and its influence can be felt 50 years later in any fantasy game you play today, on or off the computer.

If you could tell developers of games to make sure to put one thing in games to appeal to a broader audience which includes women, what would that one thing be?

I think just consideration. Sheri Graner Ray has her great saying “what if the player is female?” If game developers would just stop and ask themselves that question they might choose to put more clothes on some of their characters or tone down pointless gore just a bit. This isn’t to say they should completely cater to a female audience, just consider them right alongside their male market.

Do you have an opinion about the current state of the industry with regard to females and gaming?

I honestly don’t think it’s terrible. There are inroads that have yet to be made but overall, I think companies are more aware of women as a viable market. I personally have never dealt with a “you’re a woman so you don’t know anything about games” attitude.

If you can talk about it, can you tell us some about the project you are currently working on?

Well, we recently finished Telltale Texas Hold ‘Em, which is a poker game where you play against crazy characters that banter back and forth across the table like in a televised poker tournament. It’s definitely aimed at more casual players. We are currently working on getting more exposure for it: it’s a really fun experience and we’d love for a wider audience to get to enjoy it.

Our current project is an adventure title (think a distant, more mature cousin of your favorite classic LucasArts adventure game) based on Jeff Smith’s comic book Bone. It is a great story with great characters, and we are really excited about the chance to bring it to life in a whole new way.

Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to get into the industry?

Step 1: Love games.
Step 2: Prepare! Study the hell out of whatever you are interested in doing.
Step 3: Move somewhere where there is more than one game company.
Step 4: Meet people. Going to grad school, getting an internship at LucasArts and attending GDC all helped me meet people who helped me get my current job.

I used to be discouraged reading stories about how folks got into the industry, because oftentimes it would involve knowing someone and being at the right place at the right time. But it is possible to turn the odds in your favor by moving to the right place and going out of your way to meet others in the industry (or with connections to it). It’s not just about fate.

What are your favorite games?

You may have guessed, but I have a lot of favorite games. At the moment I am really enjoying Sid Meier’s Pirates! (the remake), Yo Ho Ho! Puzzle Pirates, Subway Scramble, and Katamari Damacy. I also just bought this huge pack of old Atari games for the PS2, and am anxious to dig into that.

Favorite movies?

Movies…I have a specialized genre that I call the “life-affirmation” genre. These are movies that inspire me and make me feel good about the world when I’m done watching them. Examples are Harold and Maude, Human Traffic and Pleasantville.

Favorite Authors?

Authors? Lemony Snicket (did you know he went to my High School?), Jeff Smith, Wendy Pini, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman (but not Sandman), William Gibson, Scott McCloud. Probably more that I am missing at the moment.

Inspirations?

I tend to find inspiration everywhere around me on a daily basis, but when I am stuck on some design problem I will play other games or read game theory books or articles or even just go for a walk someplace pretty.

What do you like doing in your free time?

As for free time… weeknights are usually pretty mellow. I am usually pretty tired from work. I’ll read, or play games, or watch a movie with my husband. On weekends I try to get out more with friends, or else I’ll work on the apartment some (it needs some work still). I also like playing with our guinea pigs and taking walks in the park with my hubby, or going out to dinner with him and my parents. I usually have a ton of projects I am in the middle of, but I don’t work on them too often because they take a lot of focus and energy and I don’t often have a lot of either when I’m at home.

Thanks for the interview! This was fun!

in Interviews

Killer Women: Terri Perkins

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by on March 6, 2005 at 6:52 pm

Women who are gainfully employed in the games industry are becoming more and more common. The assumption that video games are a man’s domain is finally becoming outdated. Women are playing and working with video games in astounding numbers. According to the ESA, 39% of game players are women. While the percentage of women working in the industry is still small, these women are paving the way for equality in this environment as well. More and more young women are going to technical schools and getting hired by game developers who see the value of a female perspective when creating video games.

So, how did these women get started and why do they do it? Those are the questions I want answers to, so I ask. This will be a continuing series of profiles of the women who have broken stereotypes and taken jobs in the video game industry.

Terri Perkins is the Online Product Manager for Funcom. Curious about what that is? Read on.

Name: Terri Perkins
Title: Online Product Manager, Funcom

What’s your earliest memory of video games?

I had Atari thumb in most of junior high due to Space Invaders and Pac Man. Next, I discovered and became addicted to my first pc game “The Count” in the early/mid 80’s. Of course I wouldn’t admit to playing it as it wasn’t an “in” thing for teen girls at that time! After that, I didn’t touch a game again until “Internet in a box” came out. The internet gaming side brought out my true geek nature and I stayed with the gaming world from then on, beginning with Moos and Muds.

What kind of education do you have and has it prepared you well for this industry?

My education was quite varied ..public and private schools, public and private Universities overseas and in the U.S and post graduate computer courses. Studies ran the gamut from journalism to combat photography to Education and psychology and later to Microsoft certification. I believe it all helps somewhere. Perhaps most important is the ability and desire to learn. I think this is vital in the industry.

What type of work did you do before you got into the industry and what jobs in the industry have you held?

Out of the industry — Hotel Management, Air Force Combat Photographer, Teacher, Info Tech Director and consultant.

In the industry — Immortal, Senior Guide, Host, game reporter, ARK Personnel Director, Online Product Manager.

Was your entry into working with video games planned or chance?

Completely planned. The first time I encountered a GM in an online game, I thought there could just be no better of a job. It became my goal then to learn how to get into the industry and how I could make myself most useful to the games.

What initiated your interest in working in this industry?

Originally it was a hobby. Before graphics came into play, those of us involved in the text games thought it would be a wonderful job but didn’t believe anyone would really pay us to do it.

How did you get started in the industry?

By volunteering. I volunteered in it for many many years and learned all I could. I volunteered to design areas, build customer service programs, some designing with MUDS, write white papers and text books and to review games for websites. When I finally felt I had the experience needed, I begged a lot and wrote proposals and applied. I think eventually Funcom hired me to get me to stop spamming their email.

How long have you been working in the industry?

In volunteer management and design since the mid 90’s. My first full time paid position was 2 years ago.

What does your job entail?

My job is a bit of a catch all. In general I handle advertising and work with marketing, P.R and Sales in conjunction with the rest of our great team.

What is an average day like?

There is no average day! It normally starts around 4:30 a.m so I can meet with my coworkers and contacts in Europe and is filled with emails, ICQs, research, agreements and contracts, NDA’s, reading and writing, tours, meetings, interviews, conventions, planning, proofing and testing. Sometimes I can sneak in a small nap in the early afternoon and then about 3pm the west coast wakes up and it starts over again.

Tell us about the most interesting or exciting moment for you in your job.

There are sooo many! Launch days are incredibly intense and stress filled. Nothing can compare to those! My absolute favorite moments are probably the press tours and conventions. When people unfamiliar with the games are introduced to the amazing worlds and you see eyes bulging and jaws dropping.. or an awkward silence and you ask if everything is okay and they reply that they are just in awe. Nothing can beat that!

What is your least favorite thing about working in the industry?

My least favorite thing is dealing with little things that can mess up your day, like broken links or things that can go wrong at the most inconvenient times.

What is the one misconception you feel people have about working in the industry in your type of position?

That it’s all fun and games. It’s an incredible amount of work that requires constant attention and time. Yes it’s fantastic to mingle with gamers across the globe but it also requires enormous hours of work behind the scenes that people generally don’t think of. I wouldn’t trade it for another job in the world though!

Do you feel you are advantaged or disadvantaged as a female in an industry so dominated by men?

I don’t feel you have any advantages being a female in the industry. It’s not like someone says “Oh since it’s a female I’m dealing with we’ll make this easy!” I don’t expect any advantages for race, gender, religious preferences or nationality either. I have definitely had times that people felt I didn’t know gaming, technology or wasn’t aggressive enough because I was female — but I don’t think the perceptions lasted long . At some conventions for example, you are assumed to be a receptionist, secretary, booth babe or someone’s girlfriend just due to your gender. If you are working in a role that is normally handled by males then you have to do the job wonderfully and be much more aware of your actions and how they will be perceived, and still some will assume you got a job because of sleeping with someone. Maybe men get this too? As women take on more of the senior roles I believe this issue will diminish over time as it has with other industries. Bottom line is this: If you’re a weak person (no matter your gender) this industry isn’t the right place for you.

Do you consider yourself a hardcore gamer?

Yes..definitely a hard core gamer. I play pretty much every moment of free time I have. This greatly varies and there are days where I will play for 8 or more hours and many days in a row where I can’t play at all.

What settings and genres do you enjoy most? Least?

Most: Online Persistent worlds.. setting doesn’t matter to me.

Games I enjoy least are those that depend on how fast you can click a button with little to no thought processing.

If you could pick one game as the best game ever, what would it be?

One of our future titles! For games already in existence, I have to say that over the long term, AO is the only one that has been able to hold my interest for several years outside of MUDs.

If you could tell developers of games to make sure to put one thing in games to appeal to a broader audience that includes women, what would that one thing be?

Choice. There is no one thing that appeals to any group of people. I think you need to have options and choices to appeal to a variety of player desires. I don’t like it when people “aim” games at females personally and have yet to see one that was designed for this that worked. An example of this is character selection. When I go to choose a character I want a variety, not one choice of an avatar that is 36-23-36 with flowing blonde hair. There is no universal trick to this. Nothing appeals to everyone, the more choices you have then the more likely you are to appeal to more people.

If you can talk about it, can you tell us some about the project you are currently working on?

Future titles and projects that will revolutionize the world as we know it! I can’t say more..the security guards are giving me “the look”..sorry.

Do you have any advice for females who would like to get into the industry?

I get asked this a lot and it’s the same answer I give to the males. Find what you want to do and start doing it. Volunteer, take classes, read. Doors don’t just open for you, you have to make them open. Make sure you truly have a desire and love of games that goes beyond playing the games. I don’t think there is a difference for males versus females in this other than with any other predominantly male industry. You’re going to have to work harder to prove yourself. No one, (to my knowledge) says “Ok we need a woman for this job”. They look for qualifications, so make sure you get qualified!

What are your favorite games?

Anarchy Online is still my main game and favorite MMO, for text I like DragonRealms and for standalones..Sam and Max.

Favorite movies?

Matrix 1, Monty Python, Casablanca, Office Space.

Favorite Authors?

Dan Brown, Jeffrey Deaver, Michael Crichton.

Inspirations?

Elonka Dunin, Walt Disney, Tim Berners-Lee, Jean Paul Sartre.

What do you like doing in your free time?

I wish I could say mountain climbing or something exotic, but I have very little of this and generally spend it catching up on family and friends or sleeping. My hobbies and work blend into one.

in Interviews

Killer Women: Yngvild Lothe

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by on February 22, 2005 at 8:35 pm

Women who are gainfully employed in the games industry are becoming more and more common. The assumption that video games are a man’s domain is finally becoming outdated. Women are playing and working with video games in astounding numbers. According to the ESA, 39% of game players are women. While the percentage of women working in the industry is still small, these women are paving the way for equality in this environment as well. More and more young women are going to technical schools and getting hired by game developers who see the value of a female perspective when creating video games.

So, how did these women get started and why do they do it? Those are the questions I want answers to, so I ask. This will be a continuing series of profiles of the women who have broken stereotypes and taken jobs in the video game industry.

In steps Yngvild Lothe. She works for Funcom as a Game Designer on Anarchy Online. How did she get started and what does she do as a Game Designer? Read on to find out.

Name: Yngvild ‘Bacchante’ Lothe
Title: Game Designer, Funcom

What’s your earliest memory of video games? Did you grow up on games or did you find them later in your life?

I didn’t find any interest in video games until my younger brother was old enough to get them as presents. I guess I was about 9. It soon became a fight between us who would have the Bombsweeper (game & watch) game, and I spent time after school at my cousins’, since they had a C64. I also remember having a list of stuff to write in order to start my favorite games on my first PC. (got it when I was twelve back in 92) I never understood why I would write “cd games” and then “outrun.exe” or whatever my dad wrote for me, but following the list I managed to play the games which were the most important part for me at that point. From then on I’ve always played games, PC or console.

I have one game that I’ll never forget as well, and that was when we went to a store asking for an adventure/puzzle game, since that was what I wanted. The guy at the store recommended Alone in the Dark, and so my dad bought me that game. I only made it down the stairs and into the first few rooms, I got so scared that I insisted on putting my closet in front of the window so that the monsters wouldn’t get me. I even tried playing at daytime with my parents in the room, but I just didn’t dare to move further. Both the character and the monsters looked so realistic to me!

Was your entry into working with video games planned or chance? What initiated your interest in working in this industry? How did you get started in the industry?

At college I dated a guy that had an interest in computers besides just playing games or writing a journal and homework, like I did. He showed me some basic programming, and I joined him when he went to a LAN-party in 1996. I was one of two girls there, and got plenty of help from the guys that actually dared talk to me. I learned to use some pixel-drawing programs, looked more into programming, and became a halfway member of what is called “the computer scene” in Norway. Here talented people get together and use creativity and skill in order to make demos and animations. I met people from all over Europe, and especially in Finland there were more girls interested in computers as well.
I think that this background has prepared me well for this industry; I guess I feel like one of the guys here, for good and for bad. =)

After college, I started Computer Science studies at the University in Oslo. I quickly discovered that programming wasn’t really my thing, and got me a job in an office while pondering what I should study. My brother convinced me to test this MMORPG that was currently in beta, and next thing I knew I had my own Anarchy Online beta account and was guild leader for 150 other players. Thanks to that I noticed the ad for customer service personnel that Funcom had on their web page, and sent in my application. I got the job, and after 2 years in customer service, I joined the Anarchy Online Design team in October 2003.

How long have you been working in the industry?

Since September 2001.

What does your job entail? What is an average day like?

I’m not sure there is such a thing as an average day here… but I usually start the day around 10 am. We have a meeting with the team each morning to sum up the latest news and what tasks we should focus on. I think this is an important part of the day since we are working on a live product. Then I read my email and try to make a “to do”-list. This is also where the mandatory morning coffee comes in. I usually then follow up on what kind of events the ARKs (the volunteers of AO) have produced, or if they have any requests, and then I start working on the task that I have. My tasks include designing and implementing quests, NPC dialog and the story in the game.

Tell us about the most interesting or exciting moment for you in your job.

Well, I love when we come up with a new concept on how to do things. Especially when someone tells us it can’t be done, and we still make it! I love doing research and getting to the bottom of things.

What is your least favorite thing about working in the industry?

I think that what’s hitting me hardest is the negative feedback you can get from players. People tend to raise their voices when they aren’t happy with something, and sometimes it feels like a personal hit. I really care for the game, and would of course like to see everyone happy all the time, and when doing your best never seems to be good enough to some people, the job can be really frustrating.

What is the one misconception you feel people have about working in the industry in your type of position?

Most people think that being a game designer includes fantastic drawing skills. I’m often asked questions about graphics and 3D-design, and to the average person it’s hard to explain exactly what is an online game, what is a quest and how do people talk to the computer.

Do you feel you are advantaged or disadvantaged as a female in an industry so dominated by men? Do you have any examples of situations where you feel you had an advantage because you were female? Any where you think being a woman played against you?

In my work, I don’t really notice any advantages or disadvantages being a female. There are of course examples of times where I might have being treated differently because I’m a woman, but on an everyday basis I don’t think much about being a woman and the others on my team being men. There have been examples in the past where they didn’t invite me to game nights etc. because they didn’t think I would be interested, but that’s more or less gone now that they know me better.

I’ve also noticed how I probably become an object of gossip whenever I find friends among my co workers, and it’s sometimes hard to keep your female style as it is often commented if you are wearing high heels or a shorter skirt etc.

Do you consider yourself a hardcore gamer? How many hours a week do you get to play (besides the title you are working on)?

I don’t consider myself a hardcore gamer in general, more a part time hardcore gamer! I have a tendency to play so much in a short period of time that I continue playing the game in my dreams, and then I quickly grow tired of it. I think I kind of use up the game too fast, sort of like with tequila. You can have too much at one time, and later when you have forgotten how bad it turned out, you try it again, and all the memories come back.

What settings and genres do you enjoy most? Least?

I like RTS games very much. I prefer to build up stuff rather than to tear it down. (I was totally addicted to LEGO as a kid.) In my perfect game I will play against an opponent that is good, but not unbeatable. I hate losing. I’ve spent a lot of time with different tycoon games, I also loved C&C, especially Tiberian Sun. I’ve tried a lot of different role playing games (as I’ve been a pen&paper role player for quite some time), they keep me entertained for a while, but I’m still waiting for that one really good game.

As much as I would love to like it, I can’t tolerate FPS games. I tend to get nauseated, upset whenever I get killed (usually way too quickly to my taste), and I get upset by the non-realistic features in the games.

I also try out different MMOs from time to time, but I find it more like work than fun as I always look at it thinking how it could have been better this way, or how I could implement this in our game.

If you could pick one game as the best game ever, what would it be?

Diablo II. I’m not sure if it’s really the best game ever, but it’s the game I’ve had the best time playing. My boyfriend at the time and I usually teamed up as Necromancer (him) and Paladin (me), and kicked ass! I have no idea how many times I’ve played that game, I even think I know most of the game dialog by heart.

If you could tell developers of games to make sure to put one thing in games to appeal to a female audience, what would that one thing be?

Tough question. I think I could write about a lot of different stuff that would appeal to female gamers. I think for online games, it is important to many women that you get on a personal level with your character. It is important that they can have variety in choice of character and the characters appearance. This includes details in looks, clothes, social emotes, interaction etc.

If you can talk about it, can you tell us some about the project you are currently working on?

Well, I’m working on the game Anarchy Online, it has been out 4 years this summer, and is a science fiction based MMORPG, set 27000 years into the future on the planet Rubi-Ka. Http://www.anarchy-online.com for more information =)

Do you have any advice for females who would like to get into the industry?

Of course, it’s different depending on what type of job you want to do, but in general I think it’s important to brand yourself, get contacts in the industry and don’t give up. Add a good portion of luck and timing as well. Knowing when companies are about to hire more people and don’t expect them to look at the CV you sent in last time they hired and give you a call. Be more aggressive, which I think, in Norway at least, is a skill that is more often seen in men than in women. And be tough! Don’t believe that all good things will come to you, and go grab it instead! I’ve wasted time thinking that justice will happen and that everyone will see what a good job you’re doing and reward you for it. It’s a lot about finding the balance point where you are proud of your work without showing off.

What are your favorite games? Favorite movies? Favorite Authors? Inspirations? What do you like doing in your free time?

Currently I’ve been playing Burnout 3 (Xbox), and I play some Puzzle Pirates when I want to relax, or I can sit playing Civ3 or Rollercoaster Tycoon for a day, but hard to say that I have a favorite game.
As for games, I also play a lot of board and card games, and some of my favorites include Puerto Rico, Steve Jackson’s Chez Geek, Zoff im Zoo, Game of Thrones, Carcassonne and Guillotine.

I’ve always enjoyed Peter Jackson’s movies, and wasn’t surprised that the LOTR version turned out to be so wonderful! I’m also a big fan of Quentin Tarantino. I love the colors and the atmosphere in movies such as Once upon a time in the West and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. City of Lost Children and The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain are simply beautiful movies, in colors, camera angles and casting. A movie I saw recently and enjoyed was The Boondock Saints. I can’t understand how I missed it when it came out, but it’s definitely on my list now. Right now I’m looking forward to seeing Constantine and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. (We are usually a bit behind the rest of the world when it comes to movie releases.)

As for authors, I’m a paperback collector, so I can safely say that I read my books till they are torn and missing pages. I started reading Tolkien as a kid, and when I run out of books to read, I started playing the Middle Earth pen& paper role play. It opened my literature world from being the classic, and in my young eyes boring, works, and to find exciting adventures in the worlds created by Terry Pratchett (Discworld), R.A. Salvatore, (The dark elf and The Icewind Dale trilogies). I read the Ravenloft series of books, and was disappointed to find out that they no longer wanted to publish books, and ended it by revealing the whole magic behind the lands in the final book about Stradt. Luckily I was advised never to read that book, so it’s still unopened in my shelf. My dad gave the Isaac Asimov Foundation series, which I still love reading. I’ve also enjoyed reading Orson Scott Card, but I think my favorite series must be the series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. I’m still waiting for the 4th book in the series, and just a few weeks ago he announced on his web page that it was still not done. It taught me how to not start reading a non-finished series of books. I also love Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and his book Neverwhere. I think I can read those over and over and the magic just won’t go away.

I think all of the above is what gives me inspiration for my work, I guess the Norwegian winter is perfect for evenings spent inside reading, watching movies and playing games. I have a tendency to switch hobbies ever so often, guess it’s a matter of attention span, just as it is with games. For one time I was learning Kyudo (Japanese Archery), then only last summer I moved on to start in an medieval styled fighting group, but when winter came I crawled inside for my books and games. 😉 I try to make time to hang out with the girls at least once a week, and in the winter we also go skiing in the mountains in the weekends.

in Interviews

Killer Women: Eri Izawa

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by on February 22, 2005 at 8:35 pm

Women who are gainfully employed in the games industry are becoming more and more common. The assumption that video games are a man’s domain is finally becoming outdated. Women are playing and working with video games in astounding numbers. According to the ESA, 39% of game players are women. While the percentage of women working in the industry is still small, these women are paving the way for equality in this environment as well. More and more young women are going to technical schools and getting hired by game developers who see the value of a female perspective when creating video games.

So, how did these women get started and why do they do it? Those are the questions I want answers to, so I ask. This will be a continuing series of profiles of the women who have broken stereotypes and taken jobs in the video game industry.

Eri Izawa, a Game Designer for Perpetual Entertainment, agreed to be the subject of the latest Killer Women feature. How did she get started and what exactly is a game designer? Read on to find out.

Name: Eri Izawa
Title: Game Designer, Perpetual Entertainment

What’s your earliest memory of video games? Did you grow up on games or did you find them later in your life?

My first video game was a Pong-like system (replete with skeet gun). Once personal computers came out (yes, this is prehistory), I got hooked on Zork and whatever else I could play on an Apple II, and from there went to various UNIX games and MUDs at college. It would be years before I got a PC that could play the “hottest” games, sadly.

What kind of education do you have and has it prepared you well for this industry?

I have a bachelor’s degree in physics; some background in engineering or science is quite useful for systems design. Knowing basic coding, even if just simple scripting, is almost mandatory. My lifelong personal interest in writing and artwork has also been very useful.

Designing, writing, and running roleplaying games with bright, headstrong, sleep-deprived college students was highly educational. Likewise, playing MUDs was an excellent introduction to online gaming, back in the era before the Massively Multi-Player games. (And I thought I was wasting time!) I also dabbled in writing very simple computer games off and on for years.

What type of work did you do before you got into the industry and what jobs in the industry have you held?

After college I wrote unpublished fiction; I did some Perl scripting, web development and software QA; only after all that did I get a job in the game industry as a game designer. I’ve done systems design, content and level design, story writing, lead design and management, and now UI design.

Was your entry into working with video games planned or chance? What initiated your interest in working in this industry? How did you get started in the industry?

One reason I chose my college was because it was the birthplace of Infocom games (and the setting of The Lurking Horror). Despite this, working in games was something I never took seriously until I realized (1) I didn’t want to do hardcore science, (2) writing fiction was unlikely to result in income anytime soon, and (3) game companies in my area were hiring. Thanks to gaming in college, I had contacts in the industry. Eventually I got a break – a particular start-up company couldn’t demand years of professional game dev experience because no one there had any, either! My writing samples and my amateur game writing experience helped tip the scales.

How long have you been working in the industry?

About 6 years, give or take.

What does your job entail? What is an average day like?

Working at a small game company means that a person’s tasks change week by week, month by month. Right now, I’ve somehow gotten into UI design, but I’m also doing social system design and other systems design. In the future, I’ll probably be doing something different. During any given day, I am most likely to go from Word to Excel to Photoshop and back, but I might be called upon to do lots of other things.

Tell us about the most interesting or exciting moment for you in your job.

Well, I’ve had lots of exciting moments – such as when coming up with an interesting way of handling a design issue. Every day can be exciting (in both good and bad ways, lol).

What is your least favorite thing about working in the industry?

Many experienced designers throughout the industry can (and do) tell corporate horror stories that make “Dilbert” look tame. It doesn’t help that more people want to enter game development than the industry can currently support. People who have families may especially have a hard time, such as when competing against unattached people who can immerse themselves in games and game dev 24×7. I’m definitely thankful to be working at a great company with a mature outlook!

What is the one misconception you feel people have about working in the industry in your type of position?

I suppose the primary misconception is that it’s an easy job. Sometimes it’s easy – much of the time it’s a real challenge that calls upon practically every field of study from your school years. It is a lot of fun, but it also calls for a lot of thinking.

Do you feel you are advantaged or disadvantaged as a female in an industry so dominated by men? Do you have any examples of situations where you feel you had an advantage because you were female? Any where you think being a woman played against you?

For me, at least, the only time being female seems to make a big positive difference is when it comes to getting interview requests for female gamer publications . I’ve certainly seen some gender-negatives in the past. Hopefully it’s all getting better, a little at a time.

Do you consider yourself a hardcore gamer? How many hours a week do you get to play (besides the title you are working on)?

There was a time when I played Dark Age of Camelot 60 or more hours a week (I was unemployed then). I think that counts as “hardcore” . Nowadays, though, I can’t muster more than about 12 hours a week.

What settings and genres do you enjoy most? Least?

Right now, I most enjoy DAoC’s Realm-vs.-Realm style of PvP combat, and hope to someday get high enough in WoW to have fun with PvP there. I’m pretty tired of PvE these days, even with a WoW- or EQ2- or CoH-style quests. I think I have played and enjoyed every major type of game out there, some types more than others. I reluctantly avoid first person shooters for the sole reason they make me incredibly motion-sick.

If you could pick one game as the best game ever, what would it be?

Computer games have so much variation, and each “era” has had such different levels of technology, that I think it’s fairly meaningless to speak of a single “best game ever.” For example, Tetris is an incredible game, but it hasn’t a hint of the story or emotional depth that even a mediocre Japanese console RPG has. Likewise, Zork was tremendous fun, but I’d imagine most modern RPGers would prefer EQ2. It’s like trying to pick the “best” invention ever – it’s too broad and subjective.

If you could tell developers of games to make sure to put one thing in games to appeal to a female audience, what would that one thing be?

The one thing would be thought. If intelligent game devs just take the time to really think about appealing to women, and make it a real development priority, more games would appeal to a female audience.

If you can talk about it, can you tell us some about the project you are currently working on?

Well, it’s a cool and exciting Massively Multi-Player game :). Can’t say much more.

Do you have any advice for females who would like to get into the industry?

In part, preparation depends on what you want to do; following your heart is the most important thing, because you never know where your path might take you – you might happily wind up somewhere far from your original intentions. That said, study the essentials of your craft (and it never hurts to brush up on writing skills in this industry). Meet, play games with, and work with people who share similar goals. Also, in my opinion, it helps to approach everyone you meet with unconditional good-will – this does not mean letting people walk all over you, but it means having an underlying positive attitude. Lastly, have fun, even at interviews. If you’re not having fun, you’re probably not performing at your best. It’s easier to have fun and perform well as a result, than to try to make yourself perform well and do neither!

What are your favorite games? Favorite movies? Favorite Authors? Inspirations? What do you like doing in your free time?

Favorite Games: Civilization I, various Infocom and modern Interactive Fiction works, Tetris and its descendants, The Sims, Total Annihilation, Sim City, Dark Age of Camelot, the first half (but not second half) of both Xenogears and Final Fantasy VII. Photoshop, paint programs, and music composition programs qualify as addictive interactive toys. I also have nostalgic fondness for an old UNIX multiplayer game called xtank.

Favorite movies: Lately I’ve been pretty happy with most Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli works, like “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi” (“Spirited Away”). I especially like “Laputa: Castle in the Sky.”

Favorite authors: Western fiction: J. R. R. Tolkien and Steven Brust (fantasy), Agatha Christie and Rex Stout (mysteries). Manga authors: Takahashi Rumiko, Soda Masahito, Sasaki Noriko, Matsumoto Leiji, Tezuka Osamu, and many others. On more serious topics I enjoy just about any author who has interesting or useful insights; among my favorites are the writings of C. S. Lewis, Ben H. Swett, Peace Pilgrim, and so on.

Anything that conveys truth (as I perceive truth to be) is inspiring to me.

In my spare time, I hang out with various online communities (only some of which are gaming-related), work on online essays, draw web comics, read gardening catalogs, try to keep my relationships meaningful, and last but not least, seek the highest path that I know.

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