BGNProfileAngeliqueRaineName: Angelique Raine. I’m an Independent Game Designer and Technical Artist.

How long have you been in the industry? I’ve been on the development side of the gaming industry about 2 years, but I’ve been a gaming enthusiast for most of my life. My earliest gaming memory is playing duck hunt in the garage with my cousins, I still have my original Gameboy and Nintendo 64 systems but now I also have a WiiU and PS4. I’ve always embraced the idea that I was a gamer; it wasn’t until college that I found how underrepresented women and PoC are in the industry.

Can you explain why you chose the industry and describe the path you took to get there? It got to a point where I was tired of always having to “save the Princess.” The Zelda franchise is by far the most defining game of my life, but they completely ignored the best story; Shiek. I wanted to know how Princess Zelda could have escaped on her own, when it was Link’s quest to save her. I enjoyed the idea that the Princess could be a warrior. I enjoyed playing as Lara Croft (Tomb Raider) as she set out on her own adventures and was independent, opinionated and could hold her own. Honestly, there isn’t enough of that.

What do you enjoy about playing and making games? I create whole universes, realities and the stories of the people who live out their lives there. I can recreate the past or design the future, the possibilities are limitless. I enjoy being a part of the process that defines who I am as a person, and I know someone else will enjoy the stories I create. It validates that I wasn’t “just wasting my time playing those game things” as my grandmother would say, and that women actually care about gaming as much as their counterparts; all in all it’s worth it.

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Would you say that your game-playing habits changed over the years? A lot of work goes into a game, from concept to development; more than I had imagined when I started at school. I still find the time to squeeze in a few game hours here and there; I play games instead of watching regular television. The way I play has also changed, when I was younger I was more concerned with getting to the end as fast as possible, but now I like to draw out the story and complete the game. It’s also great research.

Would you say that the current “culture” of gaming has affected your playing and/or interest in games? I love that as a society we’ve come to a place where we are tackling social issues and having some conversation about inequality. Games are art, and are a reflection of us, women are important, PoC are important, we should be represented and our stories should be told. If anything it’s inspiring because I know we have room to grow, we always will. I still get my fair share of internet trolls, but I try not to let it bother me because there will always be people afraid of change.

In recent months, the lack of diversity in gaming and other entertainment mediums has become a hot topic. Consumers and industry professionals are calling out creators for not producing content that reflects their customer base. Is this a concern to you?  As a consumer I would love to see more diversity in the industry, but as a developer I know everything will catch up even if it’s slowly. The independent gaming community has really been surprising with the amount of diverse content and the ability to get that content to consumers through mobile devices and digital platform releases. The independent games on PSN and Microsoft’s marketplace prove it’s a great time to be a part of this growing industry as it evolves to be more inclusive.

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Are there any “lessons learned” you like to share about your time in the business so far?Professors can only take you so far, it’s up to you to push your education further, test your limits and learn as much as you can.

Do you have any links to past or upcoming projects or a portfolio you’d like to share? My portfolio is available on my website: www.AR-Designed.com

Since this series does revolve around gaming, can you list your all-time favorite games?

  1. The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time; but all of them really
  2. The Sims Franchise
  3. The Kingdom Hearts Franchise
  4. The Persona Franchise
  5. Skyrim
  6. Golden Eye 
  7. Fallout
  8. Mass Effect
  9. Portal 
  10. Mario 64

But this list could really go on forever.

Is there any advice that you’d like to pass along to someone interested in the gaming industry? Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and put yourself out there. There have been too many times where someone has underestimated me and my ideas as a PoC and a woman; when I started I considered myself a double negative. College felt very much like a “boys club” and I often would get picked last out of the bunch or ignored because I was a woman but I made it. I discovered a lot about myself in the process and in essence became my own self-saving Princess. 

Black Girl Nerds would like to thank Angelique for sharing her story!

If you or someone you know is interested in being featured in our Diversity In Gaming series, please email jamie@blackgirlnerds.com or contact @iamlaurenp on Twitter.