Company: Adorkable Games, USC Games, Girls Make Games
Description of your current job and any projects you currently have in the works: I’m currently a game design and narrative intern at a small independent game studio called Adorkable Games. I’m also entering my third and final year in the USC Interactive Media and Games graduate program.
As an intern at Adorkable Games, I’m working on a game about bullying. It’s an interesting project because its something I had to deal with as a child and digitizing an experience that touches on it has been an emotional process. As you work, you think about your personal experiences and formulate ideas as to how those experiences can be conveyed in an interactive way. I’m not only looking how the game will be designed structurally but I also how it will convey its story to the player. It has been a great real world learning experience so far.
As a USC graduate student, I’m entering a period called thesis year. USC’s grad program is 3 years long, a year extra than most grad game programs. In this third year, we create a thesis project. From scratch, we create and have about 9 months to produce a polished piece of work. Since the spring semester ended early May, I have been building the foundations of my thesis. My plan was to have a team complete and preliminary work done in the summer so that once the fall semester kicks in late August, I’ll be ready to work.
The project I’m working on is very close and dear to my heart because it has a lot of my personal experiences embedded in it. It will be a game about coming into your own. I want to play around with the idea that visuals and sounds can convey so much more than words. It is my goal to do away with text for this project. I have an artist who will be creating all my art assets, a writer, producer, and a group for audio, 2 composers and 2 audio designers. Music and sound are going to be very important for this and I think that having a focus in audio will make me stand out from a lot of projects out there.
This is a little extra on some of the stuff I’ve made but over the past year or so, I’ve been dealing with a lot of medical issues that have brought me to a dark place in my head. At 25 years of age, you don’t often think about death and I had to deal with that while in school. In turn, I have been making a lot of small projects dealing with fear and anxiety. I’m very interested in how emotions can be conveyed in games and how they can affect game play.
As a hobby, I like making physical computing objects. I love working with Arduino and I’m currently in the process of making a lamp that looks like a cloud and has LEDs on the inside that flicker like thunder. I can’t wait to finish it.
How long have you been in the industry and your current projects? I have been involved in the industry for about 2 years now. I attend conferences. I’m part of IGDA and attend local game events as often as I can. I also teach game design to kids! My current project has been in development for a few months now.
Tell us about why you chose the games industry and the path you took to get there. To be honest, I entered this industry because I saw the need for strong women of color. I’m a very proud Puerto Rican. I have a B.A. in Information Technology and I was already aware about the gender divide and color divide in STEM fields. I was roughly one of twenty women, and one out of maybe five or so Latinas in a class of nearly two-hundred when I took IT 101 in college and the ratios only got worse when I took the advanced classes.
I’ve loved games since I was a little girl. I didn’t even know gaming was a viable career path until one of my professors saw my passion in one of the classes and advised me to go to graduate school for it. He happened to also be Latino. So I went for it and here I am!
What are some highlights of your career and projects so far? I’ve had many highlights in my career that I am so grateful for but two of these are very special. One was the opportunity to speak at a panel at GDC 2015 (Game Developers Conference) about diversity in game programs. The other was teaching a group of young girls how to make games over a weekend. It always puts a smile on my face to see kids making games.
Are there any lessons learned that you would like to share based on your experiences so far? Speak your mind. Don’t be afraid of expressing yourself. You can be respectful and put your foot down. There is no need for anyone to walk all over you or tell you that you can’t achieve something. Sometimes, our biggest enemy is ourselves. Don’t let the little voice in your head tell you that you aren’t good enough. You are more than able. Believe in yourself and that confidence will show. This goes not only for game design and in career wise, but also for life in general.
Do you have a link to your portfolio and any contact information that you would like to share? Some of my work is up on my portfolio site – www.emgomez.com. I’m in the process of updating it with more things. You can also find me on Twitter at @sailorchzbrger.
Since this series does revolve around gaming, can you tell us some of your favorite games?Wow this is hard!! Hmmmm, okay #1 game of all time is Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and some favorites are Bioshock, Amnesia: Dark Descent, Limbo and Monument Valley.
Any advice you’d like to pass along to someone interested in the gaming industry? I’d say to start designing and making games. Even if you can’t program, there are visual programming platforms that you can use to learn. You don’t even need a computer! Make games with objects, cards, or paper. Read a book or two about game design. Learn. Also be active. Check out local game jams. And if there is an IGDA (Independent Game Developers Association) chapter in your area, attend events. Talk to people, whether virtually or in person. Make friends. The industry is surprisingly small and you never know when you’ll meet someone awesome who can be your future connection to something great.
Black Girl Nerds would like to thank Elaine for sharing her story!