Female student pursues game design in male-dominated industry

Marissa Wiesenbach, North Campus Editor

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Addie Anderson – one of the very few female students majoring in Multimedia, Programming, Simulation, and Gaming at North Campus – hopes to work in video game design after finishing her academic studies.

In particular, Anderson hopes to write music for video games. She says, “I definitely plan to work in the gaming industry long-term as a game designer.”

Currently, Anderson is completing an internship with Schell Games – the largest full-service entertainment and educational game development company in the United States.

Anderson’s internship – located in the city of Pittsburgh – has provided her with the opportunity to partake in a hands-on project and practice the skills needed for game development.
Thus far, Anderson has really enjoyed her internship, and she feels so lucky to be granted the opportunity. She says, “It’s a crazy combination of fun and challenging! I have learned so much already since I started in January.”

Anderson states, “I have really enjoyed being a game design intern. It has definitely been the perfect balance between all of the different creative aspects that I like to be a part of. Through the multimedia program at CCAC, I was able to do a little bit of everything, and now I can apply almost everything I have learned to what I’m doing now.”

Prior to starting her internship, Anderson took a variety of classes while majoring in multimedia, programming, simulation, and gaming at North Campus. Specifically, she enrolled in multiple game design classes, programming classes, and classes related to two-dimensional and three-dimensional art. Such courses taught her to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and game engines like Unreal Engine and Unity.

Prior to attending the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), Anderson studied music and played the flute at the Berklee College of Music. There, she discovered that she could write music for video games.

Anderson says, “That is where my inspiration to work in the gaming industry truly came from!”
As a result, Anderson enrolled at CCAC to study gaming after graduating from the Berklee College of Music with a Bachelor of Music in 2016.

Since, Anderson has learned more about video game development.

In the future, she hopes to combine her studies from CCAC with those from the Berklee College of Music to write music for video games. Ultimately, this career will allow Anderson to combine two of her lifelong interests – music and video games.

As a child, Anderson developed a passion for video games. She states, “I have always loved video games! When I was little, I used to play a computer game in which the player was a princess who went into the forest and played the flute for all of the woodland critters.”

Ultimately, this computer game – a childhood favorite – prompted Anderson to play the flute, and with this musical talent she attended the Berklee College of Music.

Anderson says, “For me, life has come full circle. Video games brought me to music, and music brought me back to video games. First, this game inspired me to pick up the flute. And several years later, I ended up going to Berklee College of Music, where I realized I could learn to write music for video games.”

Thus far, Anderson has enjoyed studying at North Campus. In particular, she appreciates the abundance of resources located in the Innovation Lab, which include numerous computers, mixed reality headsets, a three-dimensional printer, and the HTC VIVE Headset – an innovative virtual reality system that allows individuals to visually, physically, and emotionally experience new virtual worlds.
She says, “I never expected to have access any of this technology coming to CCAC… Normally, one would expect a traditional, bare-bones computer lab, but we have so much more!”
After graduation, Anderson will pursue a full-time position in the gaming industry – where the number of female game developers is quite low.

In the gaming industry, a smaller share of video game developers are women. According to the International Game Developers Association, only 22% of game developers are women.

Often, few women pursue careers within the gaming industry because video games have gained a reputation for being a ‘boys-only club’ that welcomes and caters mostly to men.
In addition, females working in the gaming industry often receive a disproportional amount of criticism, hostility, harassment, and scrutiny when compared to their male counterparts.
Despite these harsh challenges, females game developers are working to change the male-dominated industry, especially as their overall presence increases.

In recent years, the number of female game developers has increased significantly. According to the American Association of University Women, approximately 22% of game developers identified as female in 2015 – nearly double from 2009 when the study was last conducted.

In regards to women working in the gaming industry Anderson says, “I feel like women are coming in with something to prove! A lot of the time, women are the ones who have the most daring ideas, push the hardest, and challenge the most.”

She says, “A lot of women in the gaming industry have worked hard to get where they are… It is really inspiring, and I hope to embody this energy someday, too.”
In fact, Anderson believes that women bring a fresh perspective to the gaming industry. “A perspective that is more gender-balanced.”

In conclusion, Anderson offers some advice to any female looking to pursue a career in the gaming industry. “I say go for it! The best thing you can do is be brave and put yourself out there.”