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Themes/ Gender: Female game-changers no.1

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Lisette Titre. Modellled and textured characters.
Written by
Kirsty Gentle
Published date
03 October 2018

Games are central to our popular culture, so much so that even museums are sitting up and taking notice. Kirsty spotlights a group of influential females from this creative industry.

No longer considered low art, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) started collecting games in 2012 and describe games as ‘an outstanding example of interaction design’. In 2013 the V&A appointed their first games designer in residence, Sophie George.

However, for decades gaming has been seen as a male sport. From the arcade and video games of the ‘70s and ‘80s, to the new breed of gaming experiences produced for Playstation in the ‘90s, computer games appear to have been made by boys for boys. Dig a little deeper though and you’ll find women have been at the heart of shaping this industry.

In this 2 part series we start at the beginning of modern games design then fast forward to some of the women changing the industry today. In this 1st part we also go behind the scenes with Creative Assembly and Jodie Azhar to find out more about what it takes to put the games we play together.

Carole Shaw: Games developer

1980 Atari version

Video: '3 D Tic Tac Toe', 1980 Atari, Carol Shaw Sears CX2618'. Youtube, courtesy of DJ Dedeco.

It’s widely believed that Carole Shaw was the first female games developer. She worked for Atari and created the iconic 3D tic-tac-toe including the programming, visuals and sound. The task took her six months to complete.

Find out more about Carole Shaw on Gamewomen.com

Jodie Azhar: Lead Technical Artist

Total War: WARHAMMER 2

Video:‘Total War: WARHAMMER 2 – Announcement Cinematic Trailer’. Youtube, courtesy of Creative Assembly.

Jodie is part of the renowned game development studio Creative Assembly. She is the Lead Technical Artist on the award winning Total War series, whose most recent title Total War: WARHAMMER II was released on September 28th. She was recently named as one of the 2016 BAFTA Breakthrough Brits and is one of the first ambassadors for Women in Games.
So what does a Lead Technical Artist do, Jodie?

“As a Technical Artist I work with both the artists and programmers to realise the artistic vision for each of our games from a technical perspective. I use various programming languages, such as Python, to create tools that are used in art creation software such as 3ds Max, Maya and Photoshop. These tools help improve artists’ workflows by enabling them to work efficiently and produce high quality art for our games. This includes making it easy to create models and textures, get them into the game and to display correctly with any desired special effects.

My strong artistic background helps me understand how artists think, which means I can identify ways of making it easier for them to make their art look the way they want it to.

I also communicate artists’ requests for visual improvements to the programming teams, ensuring they are implemented correctly in game and run optimally. This all contributes to making our games look and perform to a high quality, giving our millions of players an enjoyable gaming experience.”

Find out more about Jodie’s day job on the BAFTA website: ygd.bafta.org

Go behind the scenes with Total War: WARHAMMER II with Creative Assembly’s Vision Dev Diary on YouTube

Karisma Williams: UX/UI designer and developer

two billboard adverts for xbox kinect games, 'fun lab' and 'star wars'
Xbox Kinect visuals, Image: matimeo.net.
Karisma has worked in many different roles in the gaming industry, many of those with Microsoft. She was Senior Experience Developer/Designer at Xbox Kinect and now focuses on user experience/ interface design and development work. This means she works across teams to ensure that games are well designed and easy to navigate so that players can get the best experience.

Explore more of Karisma’s portfolio on her website: matimeo.net

Lisette Titre-Montgomery: Art Director, currently Art Lead on Psychonauts 2

a 3d render of a 'roller disco' environment with colourful neon lights
‘Dance Central 3’ - Environment Modelling, Texturing & Lighting: Ryan Shevlin, Allier Zelaya, and David Northcutt of Backbone Entertainment. Art Direction: Lisette Titre-Montgomery
As an Art Director Lisette leads and advises on work developed by different creative teams for particular games. These include ‘Dance Central 3’, ‘Tiger Woods Golf’, ‘The Simpsons’, ‘SIMS 4’ and ‘Transformers Age of Extinction’ for Android and iOS. With over 17 years experience she’s a great role model and is actively involved in helping to make the games industry more diverse. Lisette is currently working on Ubisoft’s ‘The Fractured but Whole’- the new South Park game.

Lisette’s specialist skills are character modelling, texture painting and special effects. You can see them in action on her website: lisettetitre.com

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