Molly is studying Computer Gaming Technology, with its mix of programming and creative design. She tells us more about her course and her experiences of being a woman starting out in the computer gaming industry.
I’m in my second year of studying Computer Gaming Technology. My course is a wonderful blend of logic and creativity, which lends itself well to my strengths.
A mix of programming and design
While one day I could be working on a very programming-heavy task of path finding between train stations, another day can have me designing and creating a little robot for one of my assignments. Most days it’s the creation of interesting assets that inspires ideas for interesting mechanics within my games. I also recently created some assets for an endless runner game, set within the ocean. I made all the geometric art sprites myself, and often added new functionality into my game in order to incorporate the sprites in an interesting way.
I find this diversity in required skills one of the main attractions to the gaming industry. There is also always something new to pick up and learn, be it new software or languages, or new areas of the industry to branch into. It’s an opportunity to perpetually learn and grow.
Being a woman in gaming
While this sounds fantastically ideal for me, I know it can come at a heavy price, one which I already feel within my course: the constant feeling of imposter syndrome.
Knowing that there is still so much to learn in this field can make me feel under-qualified and incompetent compared to those around me. This is amplified by the fact that I am one of few female students in my course in a male-heavy industry. I’m constantly feeling the need to prove that I belong in this industry as much as any man, which often leads to me to work harder and set myself higher (and sometimes unobtainable) standards.
I have in the past been met with demeaning remarks or hostility on announcing that I play games, much less want to develop them. There are even moments when I am challenged to prove that I play games by listing some of my favourites; and perish the thought I say The Sims or Animal Crossing, two of the few games girls are actually expected to enjoy.
I really hope that as time goes on there isn’t an expectation of the types of people who should be enjoying particular hobbies or careers. I support the aspiration of getting more women in STEM careers and breaking down gender and racial barriers across all jobs.
For now, I hope I and anyone else feeling imposter syndrome is able to take some useful steps to overcome this feeling. Dr Valerie Young is an internationally recognised expert on Imposter Syndrome who has developed some brilliant steps that can be followed to overcome these feelings. Her first step is: break the silence. Once you start speaking about your feelings you’ll recognise that many people around you feel the same way, which is what I hope to have achieved with this piece about my thoughts of being a woman studying computer games technology.
By Molly Hardy
BSc (Hons) Computer Gaming Technoloy student
Molly studies Computer Gaming Technology in ARU's School of Creative Industries in Cambridge. Find out more about this course, and other undergraduate degrees, at one of our Open Days.
Visit Molly's personal blog to find out more about her projects and gaming experiences.