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20 years and counting.

From live journal – dated October 30th 2009

So, today is a  momentous day for me.

It’s my 20th anniversary of being in the game industry.

Some how.. this doesn’t make me comfortable.

In fact.. just the opposite. It’s got me rethinking my role in this looney bin.. why I’m still here after the tons of abuse and heartache and sleepless nights it’s caused.

It’s been a long rocky road. I spent nine month unemployed after getting laid off from Origin. I guess a smarter person would have left the industry at that point… but I didn’t. I begged borrowed and stole my way to GDC (CGDC as it was called back then) and worked as a volunteer to be able to get in.. all to try to find work, which I did. I got my job at American Laser Games in New Mexico from that event.

Funny thing is, I got two offers at that event. I also got an offer to be a producer with a little company called Square Soft (as it was called back then) but I turned it down to take the job with American Laser Games. That is a road not taken that I often wonder about. Of course, it was American Laser Games that gave me the freedom to research the whole gender issues in game development.. and hence the book, GDC Game Developers’ Choice award and onward.

I remember very distinctly the day I made the decision to pursue the whole “gender and games” thing. It was a very serious and deliberate decision for me. I knew that going to bat for women in games would probably be the death knell for my career. I knew that it would label and pigeon hole me. However, I do not think I realized what exactly that meant. I know I didn’t expect the name calling and the complete ostracization by many men and women in this industry. And..I certainly didn’t expect to EVER be referred to as “old news”… as I  hear I am being referred to now when I apply to speak at conventions. It’s particularly disturbing when there are still SO many issues surrounding gender and ethnicity in this industry.

And, I can’t say it hasn’t hampered my career. When I was named to the top 100 women in games list by NextGen, I actually was told by someone on the Women in Game Dev mailing list that they objected to my being there as I “really not a designer.. more of an activist.”

Wow did that hit hard.

So.. let me say this. the one thing I”ve learned in 20 years is this. …

I am a game designer.

I eat, sleep, breath game design. I think about it non stop. I design games constantly..the entire Gender thing was something I thought needed to be said because it was a deficiency in our industry and certainly a market we were missing. I didn’t think we could afford to be leaving out a market when we were such a young industry. That and *I* liked games and thought that other girls should too.

So.. here I am 20 years later from that first day when I showed up at Origin Systems in a dress, hose and heels (cuz to do otherwise just seemed odd to me)  and was given a tour by my office mate Bill Armintrout whereby the programmers looked at me and said, “Ah Bill, that’s not fair! You’re married!” o.O

At lunch today, my coworkers asked me if I thought I’d still be here in 5 years. I said yes, I probably would be. I still have alot of games to make yet and alot of things to say. I hope the industry continues to give me the chance to do it!

Published in20 Years in Games - looking back