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Women of Noble Steed Games: IWD 2022 Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of the conversation with Maddie and Sophie, the female devs from our studio! If you haven’t already, check out Part one of this series for International Women’s Day!

Ann: Along the same line of thinking, what are your thoughts on initiatives targeted towards women? Code Like a Girl comes to mind. It’s not exactly related to game dev, it’s about trying to get girls to get into coding. What do you think about those initiatives?

Maddie: I’m a big opposite fan of gendering stuff, like “Coding for girls”. Can’t you just teach kids to code? But I guess there’s stereotypes in society that stop girls from getting into it. If only we could wipe society’s culture completely and start fresh…

Sophie: I’m not a very big fan of the name of it, kind of like Madds. Like having to gender things to get more girls into the thing, for example making things pink for girls and blue for boys that sort of thing. I can see myself not wanting to get into it.

Maddie: At the same time, if it’s creating a safe space? It might be for girls who think they shouldn’t try this thing as opposed to those who are already interested in it and might never do it. But with it, maybe they might feel safer learning with other girls.

Ann: Yeah, I think the best would be restarting and removing all the gendering around it, having everyone learn coding if they want to. Anyway, let’s move on to talking about how you got into game dev and No Moss Studios!

Sophie: We both studied in [Redacted] right Maddie?

Maddie: Yeah.

Sophie: And we started in NMS on the same day as well. I didn’t even know they were hiring, I was just looking for an internship. They were looking for an artist anyway and I stayed on. I had Marty’s business card in Uni, when part of the course was to do a group project to pitch a game and make a vertical slice of it. They had some industry people to critique the pitch and Marty was one of them. At the end of the pitch, Marty was like “Here’s my card, your idea was cool.” So I kept it on my fridge for like, 3 years, whilst I finished my part time study and tried to hype myself up to take the step of contacting him. When I was looking for an internship I went, “Yeah, I remember that guy.”

Illustration of Marty's business card.
A 3 year old business card from Marty, our team’s Senior Developer.

Ann: 3 years!! Wow. What about you Maddie?

Maddie: I’ve always been interested in a heap of things and I was studying International Studies at [Redacted] but I suck at words and essays weren’t really my thing. Words and organising my thoughts are hard. So I stopped doing that and took a year off just working, and was thinking of getting into something tech related and artsy. I was thinking of maybe getting into VFX, but my dad said “The Game Industry is actually bigger than the film industry” and I went “That’s cool!” I had a friend who was at [Redacted] studying the games course there and decided to do that. Then I spent a while doing my own stuff waiting for a door to open and this one did, and started here.

On topic the course itself was quite large, especially in the first 2 years, filling up the main lecture hall. For some of the core subjects… I don’t know, what was your memory of male to female ratio Soph?

Sophie: It was very uh.. not great.

Maddie: Yeah, a lot of dudes. Maybe 1 in 5, but that might be too generous.

Sophie: And with the lecturers as well, there was a lecturer who would encourage women to answer first. Or whenever he needed a volunteer, he’d go “Come on girls! Lets get a girl down here!” It was well intentioned but it felt so weird.

Ann: That’s so weird!!!

Sophie: Also, in the non-elective,core subjects, the only time we had female lecturers were when they were guest lecturers, I don’t think they had any full time staff.

Ann: I’m surprised that Art or Sound design courses were still somewhat less disproportionate. Always assumed it’d be more even.

Sophie: No, I don’t think so. Even when I was doing my research, I was thinking I don’t know any sound designers or composers in the industry that are women, at all. I know some concept artists, and know they’re out there but I don’t know of them.

Maddie: An indie game playlist I listen to online, now that you mention it, are mostly men, too.

Sophie: I think the composer for Celeste is a woman, but I’m not sure.

Ann: Like, I’m pretty sure there are women working in these fields, it’s just that they become known or as well known as their male colleagues.

Soph: Like I can name… Mick Gordon off the top of my head because he’s done so much.

Ann: Moving on, what’s a day at work look like?

Maddie: I start early if I’m up and about and feeling it. Get some work done before Standup, which is usually the first round of meetings. I usually have a couple Standups, depending on the clients I’m working with. I try to go on a walk whilst at our internal Standups, which has been quite nice. I have some bad habits, and can sit at my desk all day, and play games after work, so I make the most of any time I can take to be away from the computer.

Illustration of someone going on a walk.
How Maddie starts her day: Going on a short walk during the team Standups.

Ann: That’s a really good idea, I might steal that haha.

Maddie: Then on the daily I’ll be in meetings on zoom or slack, coding stuff, going to Let’s Moves. That’s some exercise between work, so I can feel less bad about being a sack of potatoes.

Sophie: Yeah, I haven’t been going but I have to try again sometime.

Maddie: Yeah, you feel so refreshed afterwards.

Ann: What about you Soph?

Sophie: I get up closer to Standup now, since working from home. I get my brain into gear, think about what I gotta do, check the Kanban board, do the Standup. And after the Standup that’s when I actually get started for work. I find the Standup helps me get into gear for the rest of the day. Before Standup I’m basically non-functional and during Standup I’m drinking coffee so that helps. I need to start your routine Maddie, it sounds a lot healthier!

I think my work just depends on the project. At this point for SeaMonkeys I’m doing concepting, I made a model, rigged it, animated it, did the textures and stuff. That’s a day for me, it just really depends on the project and the stage of the project.

Ann: Moving on, what do you love most in the industry and what are some of your proudest achievements within your career or outside of it?

Sophie: I just really like creating worlds that don’t exist. Not quite escapism, but storytelling and making meaningful parallels to real life in an entertaining way and exploring a vibrant other reality. I think that’s why I really like game development. I enjoy worldbuilding and creating.

For my biggest achievement, I think just getting to where I am is it. Back in highschool I was really depressed, and didn’t know what I wanted to do, and was feeling rather directionless. Getting into video games gave me something I wanted to do. Instead of going into my room to play all the time and getting worse with my grades, I used it as a motivator to go: “Let’s get really good at Math now to get into this game course!”. And I’m proud of being able to use my degree for work. Just getting through life, y’know?

Maddie: I think my answer is pretty similar. Just getting this job, getting a foot in the door, starting work. It’s always been pretty daunting in Australia, especially since we’re always told that there isn’t a huge AAA scene here and that they’re more inclined to hire juniors.

It’s intimidating to start out, when all the jobs are for Mids or Seniors. Sometimes I feel like it wasn’t an achievement, and more luck. But I’ve been told it’s quite an achievement by other people, so quite happy with that. I did some work to get here!

Ann: Of course! You went through all of Uni for this!

Sophie: Yeah! Uni is such a slog, especially full time. I couldn’t do full time, props to you.

Maddie: Yeah. Anyway to answer the first part of the question, I really love making things and all the different elements of game dev is all problem solving. It’s like a game in itself, you have to use your resources to achieve your goals, so its very engaging and satisfying work. In the short term, I really hope I can say an achievement I’ve done is fixing this networking bug, but alas it’s still alluding me. Hopefully I’ll be finished with it by this evening and it’ll be a nice satisfying achievement! [Update: She fixed it!]

Ann: Okay, next question. What would you say to other female devs-to-be / young students? What kind of advice would you give them?

Sophie: Don’t drop out because you feel like it’s a boy club. I don’t want to put responsibility on someone to be some kind of example– that is a huge weight on your back– but make games, for as long as it’s your dream to make games, you should try. Don’t let people push you out.

Another thing is to find mentors, because that’s something I didn’t have for the longest time, someone that I could just personally one on one ask for advice. Only recently was I invited to this discord server with people that do background painting for animated films and shows. It’s been the best thing for me because I get to talk to other artists in the industry who are like a step or two above me, so that’s nice! So yeah, find mentors!

Illustration of mentors
Sophie’s advice: Find your mentors!

Ann: I guess one thing to note here, most people assume mentors are these people high up top, but no, they’re just a few steps ahead of you.

Sophie: Yeah, just friends as well.

Maddie: On top of the mentor stuff, I think it’s good to remember that no one knows what the fuck they’re doing. No one has their shit together.

Sophie: Yeah, we’re all winging it.

Maddie: If you wanna do it, just do it. Believe in yourself. If there’s a lack of representation, that’s a sort of sign you need to do it more, perhaps pave the way for others too. And if you feel like you’re setting a bad example, just remember no one knows what the fuck they’re doing, so you’re good.

Sophie: You’re setting a good example regardless, just by being there as a woman / gender diverse person. Just try your best. Another point, if you’re in the industry and feel like you’re alone, that’s a lot of responsibility and it’s scary. It might make you want to stop, but finding mentors or support could help a lot. You shouldn’t feel alone in it, your mentor doesn’t need to be someone doing something similar to you. Make sure you connect with those people, even if they’re on the other side of the world.

Ann: That’s some sound advice. Next up, last question: What games are you playing now?

Maddie: Horizon Zero Dawn, Phasmophobia.

Sophie: Death Loop, The Outer Worlds.

We hope you enjoyed this peek into our studio! Have a question or want to chat more about game development? Reach out to us!

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2 thoughts on “Women of Noble Steed Games: IWD 2022 Part 2”

  1. Pingback: Women of No Moss Studios: IWD 2022 Part 1 | No Moss Studios

  2. Pingback: Women of Noble Steed Games: IWD 2022 Part 1 | Dev Blog

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