Jamie Role is an Earthling Developer and an avid gamer. There's been a lot of chatter lately about the place for girls in the gaming world and thought it would be fun to talk to Jamie to get her perspective on gaming and being a woman in the tech field. Here, our Communications Specialist Erin Courtenay talks with Jamie.
EC: How did you get started with gaming?
JR: I have played video games most of my life. We had a video game system and computer in my house as long as I can remember. The one game that changed everything, though, for me was when my brother brought home Starcraft when I was 14.
EC: What was it that you liked about playing Starcraft?
JR: Starcraft is always a challenge. Every match you enter into is different so you always have to be evolving the way you look at the game and coming up with new ideas. I liked how the game made you think quickly about the next action you had to take. I always liked dealing with logic problems so the game really spoke to me in that way.
The other aspect that drew me in was it has an interesting community. I met people from all walks of life with completely different personalities. Some of the people who I met playing the game have made huge impacts in my life as I wondered through adolescence and into adulthood. I still keep in contact with them (one I even married!).
EC: How did playing video games lead you to a career as a developer?
JR: Gaming changed my life. It was something that meant a lot to me and that I really loved so I wanted to share that with other people. I wanted to learn how to make my own games. Unfortunately at the time there wasn’t a program in my area for game programming so I went to school at MATC for web development instead.
EC: There’s been some controversy lately about Zoe Quinn which has prompted a lot of people to talk about how women are treated in the gaming community. Do you ever feel like you are treated differently by male gamers? Or by anyone else for that matter as a “girl gamer?”
JR: Any girl that has played online video games can attest to the fact that woman are treated differently. It’s not always in a negative aspect, but it is different. One of the first times I remember it happening to me was shortly after I started playing Starcraft. I had worked my hardest to beat a very good player and after the match he told me “Well, I let you win because you’re a girl.” I don’t know to this day if it was the truth or not, but hearing that deeply upset me. I wanted to be acknowledged for my skill in the game, not my gender. After that, I pretended to be a guy, which wasn’t that hard because all the communication was done via text. After I would get to know someone, I would let them know I was female and most of them were genuinely surprised. Since they knew me at that point, generally they didn’t treat me different.
The longer I’ve gamed though the more I’ve run into these types of things though. There are a lot of people online who just want to be your friend because you’re female. Then there are the ones that will make fun you because you are. Often I hear “Oh, I bet you’re overweight.”, “You must have no life.”, “I bet you’ve never had a boyfriend.”, “You must be really ugly.”, and the one I think every female gamer has heard about a thousand times “Go make me a sandwich.”
In my life outside of video games, I’ve often hid the fact that I was a gamer from people. Many of my high school friends made fun of me for gaming. It made me feel like, if the people who are close to me don’t understand, then how are other people going to react to the fact that I’m a gamer. It took me a long time to be confident enough in myself to let people see that part of my life. It hasn’t always been an easy road being a female gamer, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
EC: What’s your current favorite game?
JR: My current favorite is DOTA 2. My family often gets together on Friday nights and all plays together. We might be thousands of miles apart, but it helps keep us close.
EC: What game on the market would you recommend to a young girl that was curious about gaming?
JR: I am a sucker for a good story so I would suggest Child of Light. It is a twist on the story of sleeping beauty. You follow a young princess aurora as she grows up and tries to save the world. There is some violence in it so I wouldn’t suggest it for very young children.
Teaser image: Month of Procrastination by yura tsuki