Chartboost Interviews: Katie Goode, Triangular Pixels

Triangular-Pixels

Katie Goode is the Creative Director of the Cornish, award winning studio games studio Triangular Pixels. Spending the past four years focused on Virtual and Augmented Reality, Katie quickly grew to be a leader in the field named ‘forefront of virtual reality game design’ by The Guardian and earned a spot on Develop’s 30 under 30 list. She’s a key member of the UK VR community and loves to share learnings with developers around the world.

I’m excited to share my interview with Katie Goode below where she talks about her path to success and the perspective of launching an indie studio in Cornwall, England.

How did you get into gaming? Did you always want to be a game developer?

I actually have a really old Disney FunFax from primary school where I’d written in the jobs section that I wanted to make computer games. Apparently I’d always said it since a young age, I don’t even know when I made the decision but it was clearly early on. When I was in secondary school I didn’t really know which area to work in or how to get there. My school was an all-girls school that didn’t even consider games as a career. We did one of those big questionnaires that tells you the job for your future, and careers in games weren’t even on there.

I knew I really wanted to go into games, but the games courses I was looking at weren’t very strong academically at the time. I didn’t see it as transferrable either, so I wouldn’t necessarily be able to do anything if I couldn’t get into games. Instead, I did a degree in Physics and Space Research, at the University of Birmingham. They taught programming there, and I was also employed as a graphic designer at a small company while I was studying. So I was learning programming and art while at University, but I still wasn’t sure how to get into games. This is back in 2007.

Thing changed when David Walsh from Frontier attended one of our career open days, and I said to him something along the lines of ‘I’ve done rocket science and graphic design, I want to make games’. He encouraged me to take a tour of their studio to decide my career path as I still had no idea. The guys at Frontier were the ones who introduced me to the role of game designer and then I knew what I wanted to do. They even offered me a role without a formal interview, probably because I was making lots of comments on their games and the design while I was on the tour. I was very fortunate, but at the same time I was increasing my range of skills, whilst obviously still being passionate about games.

Can you tell me more about Triangular Pixels, and what your role entails?

My husband and I started our own studio, Triangular Pixels, in order to continue working together and allowing us to create VR games in our own vision. We moved out of London and down to Cornwall – in a seaside town called Bude.

My role is that of Creative Director – which means leading the art, audio and design aspects of the game. Day to day my job can consist of a very large range of activities such as paper design, research (by playing games, watching talks etc.), watching how people are responding to my game, actually making things. Basically, get your hands dirty because when you’ve got code, audio and everything else coming together, it needs to all work like a jigsaw puzzle.

Unseen Diplomacy was just nominated for a BAFTA Award this month!

As an indie developer, I have to do a lot of the art and audio myself. This is as well as being the producer, arranging the tasks that need to be done and who’s going to do what. Also, when it’s your own studio it means all the business stuff falls on you too. This includes promotion, accounting, business development, web design or fixing broken PCs!

Why is the challenge of hiring and retaining female employees so persistent in the mobile game industry?

My background is that of console and PC development, though I have spent a short time in mobile development. I don’t have anything other than anecdotal evidence to see if there’s more women in VR, mobile or console dev. What I have seen though are some of the issues in why we struggle as an industry to hire females, and to keep hold of them.

The biggest issue I see is the lack of female leaders within the industry. For a student or young developer not to see women in leading roles, not seeing them taking the stage at E3, not hearing about the top women programmers behind games – means they will not have role models to work towards and take inspiration from. This will mean they may feel isolated, not feel welcome, not ‘supposed’ to be a strong character, and may end up leaving if things get tough.

In terms of us hiring, our biggest issue is our location. There isn’t may studios in Cornwall at all, so isn’t a pool of local talent. Percentage chances of someone near by, looking for a job, being experienced, and being female, are very low!

Do you focus recruiting efforts around hiring women specifically?

We focus on experience and cost to us, as we’re still a micro studio.

Being on the receiving end of being hired – would be great to show the culture of your studio before locking people away in a room. Let candidates walk around, take in the feeling of the studio, who’s there, let them ask questions to people working. Being hired is a two way relationship – so allow them the chance to see how you are before taking things to the next step.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for women interested in a career in mobile games?

Start making something today! But also, don’t be afraid to be loud and proud.

Follow Katie on Twitter @Katie_TriPixels and Triangular Pixels here on Twitter@TriangularPixel and here on Facebook.