It’s an industry dominated by men – but three Tyneside women are proving to be top of their game.
So, in the Year of the Woman, Craig Thompson finds out how the games industry is turning to the girls.
Fast cars, fighting and football – the holy trinity of the gaming world.
For years the games industry has been dominated by men – from those playing to those producing the content.
But is all that about to change?
Nina Campbell, Ruth Caulcott-Cooper and Aishling Mulhern – all Newcastle University graduates – are now working at TT Games on some of the biggest titles out there.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game are among the multimillion sellers the women have brought their talents to.
Ruth, 22, joined the company in April 2017, while also studying for a postgraduate degree at Newcastle University, and has worked on the LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 and The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game.
Ruth is a junior game mechanics programmer, which means she works on the more global mechanics for all the LEGO games.
She said: “I started a career in gaming firstly because I really enjoyed playing videogames, and have done so since a very young age.
“Secondly because it was a unique challenge that no one in my social circles or at my all-girls school took interest in. It was exciting to pursue a degree and career which the majority of people I knew had little or no experience or knowledge in – it felt like an adventure not many women had taken before me.
“Women need to publicly show their success in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics industry to encourage other women to pursue it, and to progress the relevance of women in these roles.”
Nina joined TT Games in March 2016, while pursuing an MSc degree in Computer Game Engineering.
Now working full-time as a junior tools programmer, the 24-year- old develops new technology for the artists to use.
She said: “Pursuing a career in gaming was a bit of a late decision for me – in the final year of my Physics degree I had a ‘why didn’t I do a degree in computing?!’ moment as it perfectly suited my interests and hobbies.
“Surprisingly, the games industry had never occurred to me as a career option but deciding to go into it was a no-brainer as I already spent a large amount of my time playing video games and figured it’d be pretty awesome if I could have a career in the industry.”
Aishling Mulhern, 25, has spent the last seven months working on LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2. The Gameplay Programmer graduated with a MSc degree in Computer Games Programming in August 2016.
She works full-time coding high level elements that the player will interact with. Her role involves teaming up with tech artists to make sure everything triggers at the right moment to progress the story.
She said: “My team is responsible for bringing together lots of different elements – animations, visual effects, special effects – and creating attacks out of them.
“Generally, if we think something will look cool in the game, we have the green light to give it a go. At the moment, I am focusing on LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, submission is just around the corner and I’m very excited for my first game release.
“I have always wanted to make video games since I spent most of my weekends as a kid “helping” my friend progress through Zelda on the N64.”
Chris Stanforth, head of game mechanics at TT Games, said: “Many of the most talented people I studied alongside were women, and it has been such a failure that they weren’t encouraged into the Games Industry during its fledgling days.”