We had a roundup with our Senior 2D Artist Poovizhi Gnanasekaran, Game Programmers Anandhi Manivannan, Meenakshi Kathiresan and presented them with some interesting questions around Women in Game Development to see what they had to say.
Tell us about yourself and what role do you play currently at Hammerplay ?
Anandhi - In short, I develop games. We use Unity 3D and Phaser engines to develop most of our games. I code the logic behind the games, the UI logic, and polishing. Sometimes as a developer I have to put things together like art assets animation etc for the games.
Meenakshi - I'm a junior programmer. I work alongside other programmers and artists. Our pipeline is set by our Techlead. The tasks for the build are listed on the Globoard and they're ticked off one after another. They are committed and pushed in git. We work closely with the designers and artists. Daily scrums make sure we are on track for the build. In case of blockers, we get our Techlead's assistance.
Poovizhi - As a 2D artist I work on the Artwork from different projects assigned to me. Sometimes I get to work on the IP, creating art assets for the games starting from characters to game backgrounds. I also work with developers side by side creating game UI and other art general requirements.
How did you get into the Games Industry and your current position ?
Anandhi- To be honest, I had no prior passion for this industry, In the 2nd year of college we had a subject called 2D animation techniques and as an assignment, our Professor asked us to develop a game using flash. That was when I found developing game could be so much fun and challenging and wanted to give a shot. So I applied for the internship at Hammerplay studios and got it. I joined as a game developer intern in 2017 and my journey continues to this day.
Meenakshi- I got into the game development industry as an intern 2 years back. I stepped in as a complete fresher to the industry with some programming basics. My college friend and I attended an interview at Hammerplay and we were told we can learn Unity to start off. We took 2 weeks to familiarize ourselves with game engine. And post 2 weeks we had a test and before we knew it we made our first baby steps into the field.
Poovizhi - I started my career as a VFX Co-ordinator working on CG and post production part for Tamil feature films. A few months down the line I realized I am not someone who can directly deal with people from the movie industry and wanted to take up Art full time. So I started freelancing for small projects for Ad Agencies. For a few years, I was exploring different forms of art and design from making e-learning videos to branding design, making wall arts to product design and graphic design. And then one of my friends referred me to Hammerplay as there was a requirement for artist and that's how I got into the Games industry and I currently work as a Senior 2d artist.
Who has been your inspiration in this journey and what inspires you in general ?
Anandhi- Obviously, it’s our Tech lead Joshua. He taught us almost everything I know about this industry. The fun of solving problems and challenges keeps me hooked on.
Meenakshi- Honestly, our Techlead, Joshua has been an inspiration. He can instantly solve problems and is never hesitant to try out new things. He is ready to adapt to the ever evolving industry. Apart from that, a youtuber Noa Calice who has a channel called BlackThornProd. He is a very young game developer who started off very early and does great art work and coding. To be so passionate about it and being able to do all roles of building a game is truly inspiring.
Poovizhi- It all started when my mom taught me to draw a house for a drawing competition when I was 4 years old. While everyone drew a hut I drew a duplex house and guess what? I won. My parents have been my biggest inspiration. At work I am surrounded by amazing artists, just looking at their work inspires me a lot in general.
What challenges you think you generally face being part of this Industry and more as a woman in game development ?
Anandhi - Personally, for me, the biggest challenge is to get that broad gaming knowledge I lack because I hardly play any games.I am putting in some effort to play as much as I can.
Meenakshi - Being in a company like Hammerplay I don't really see the line between genders. We are treated equally. But in terms of challenge, there are times where you need to crunch and meet a deadline where I might not always be able to stay up late. This can't be classified as a women problem though. But some women do face such problems.
Poovizhi - When there is no specified hierarchy it is difficult to get the work done from your co-workers, especially when you are a woman responsible for a project. Some people fall too much in love with their work that they do not have an open mind for corrections. Sometimes there could be ego or opinion issues.
What's your outlook on the games industry in general and how do you see it growing and staying relevant in future ?
Anandhi- As I said before the industry is as fun as the games we create. But in a country like India, we have to work hard to make this industry boom where most people still see playing games as nothing but a waste of time. Although this trend has slowly been changing with time and now we can see the other industry like educational industry, medical industry using games to further their cause and this shows the importance and relevance of games.
Meenakshi - Game industry could be the next big thing. People may not become serious gamers but they definitely see mobile games as a fun way to spend time. The graph of the game industry has shot up in the last decade and that’s how I believe. So it's a field with great potential.
Poovizhi- It is an ever growing industry. People will always want interactive entertainment. All that surrounds us is technology and gaming I believe is a vital part of it that people cannot resist for ages to come.
How do you find the culture at Hammerplay and what sort of climate is needed to thrive in this industry?
Anandhi - The culture here is just awesome. One of the reasons that insisted me to take gaming as my career may be the culture here and I never felt bored at work. In a creative industry like this, it’s very important to have this sort of work culture.
Meenakshi - Hammerplay is a fun place where work is driven by the love to work and not because a manager is behind you to meet unrealistic deadlines. It does not mean we do not meet deadlines but we do it because we want to get the work done and not because we are stuck in a hierarchical structure like it is in most corporates. I think this also helps the creative team more.
Poovizhi - The culture at Hammer Play is pretty cool and I would not want to change a thing.
What has been your favorite game(s) in recent times and why did you get hooked to them ?
Anandhi - Though I am in this industry I hardly play games. From the few games, I played my favorite game is Lumosity, It is not a single game it's an app that comes with lots of small 2d brain games. The idea of this app is to assess your different skills like accuracy, memory, speed, etc and this keeps us hooked as we play again and again to get better with these skills.
Meenakshi - I have never been a hard core gamer. I have played few of the popular mobile games. As a kid, I loved games like Road rash and Dave. I remember playing a lot of Clash of clans for a long time when I was in school.
Poovizhi - Valiant hearts is my favorite game so far. It is a puzzle adventure video game set during world war1. The game has a very interesting story-line. It has four main characters and a dog. You get to play as all the four characters and also as the dog who will follow the main player's command. I like this game mainly for the art style and the story-line which is built around different emotions like guilt, love, pain, etc. this will keep you hooked to the game.
Any piece of advice to budding talents who want to set foot into this industry especially women ?
Anandhi - The only advice I give is “Keep learning and exploring”.
Meenakshi - Don’t be afraid or get intimidated by the industry looking from outside. There are so many places in the industry that give the perfect environment to grow. Also, always be ready to adapt and learn.
Poovizhi - It is certainly a challenging world, be it games or other entertainment industry it is never going to be easy on you. Be passionate about anything that you do. Love it, live it.
What sort of new challenges or upgraded roles you wish to tackle in the near future? In other words, how do you want to grow ahead in this industry?
Meenakshi - My goal in the industry would be to become a project lead in the near future. But in the long run, I want to make games that are played and enjoyed by millions of people. Make new games that do not exist in the industry.
Poovizhi - A wise man once said, “ with great power comes great responsibility' and I wouldn't mind working towards it.