Why are there so many MEN in the video game industry?!

When I was in elementary school, I played a LOT of video games on our Nintendo Entertainment System. They helped me escape from the tough things in life- like divorce, and bullies, and boredom in a small town. (For all the young people reading this, the internet didn’t exist back then…or DVRs….or Cartoon Network!) They also gave my younger sister and I something to do together. That is a big deal for siblings who fight constantly. We were able to unite by finding common enemies- like Bowser!

MarioandBowser

 

I also realize now that a couple of my closest girl friends in elementary school were fellow gamers. One friend, Abby, had way better games than I did, so I’d stay the night at her house and we’d stay up until all hours playing Burger Time, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Our claim to fame was beating Rad Racer!

power padI had another friend, Elizabeth, who had an older brother that loved video games, which was a total bonus! They had the Track and Field game with the power pad, Excitebike, and one of my all-time favorites, Ducktales! We’d also go up to the local video rental store  and rent games to play for the weekend. One that I distinctly remember beating with her was The Adventures of the Magic Kingdom!  She was a popular girl whereas I was a straight A nerd type, but she was a neighbor, and video games were our common bond. Being a child of divorce in the 90’s, video games played a key role in our family setting as well. Video games gave my sister and I something fun to play with my dad when we visited him.

 

 

Adventure Island          Video games were also a great ice-breaker when my mom remarried the first time.  My first stepsisters, my sister and I spent many hours playing Adventure Island and other games on the NES! After the death of my first stepfather, my mom remarried again (you can see how video games could be something consistent in my early life), and we lived on a farm out in the country with only 3 channels on the TV and an old Sega Genesis for entertainment. We also only had 2 games- Sonic the Hedgehog and NBA Jam.  I got REALLY good at Sonic, even though I never could manage to beat it! Our stepbrother, my sister, and I bonded over these games even though we didn’t have much else in common.

By high school, my days and nights were spent at school learning, at my job as a pizza maker, at marching band and show choir practice, and playing softball. I didn’t have time for video games anymore, and none of the people I hung out with played them. There is a big gap of time where I missed XBox and Play Station. It wasn’t until I met my husband and friend Phil that I had friends to play video games with again. We spent a lot of time playing a variety of different games, which allowed me to improve my lost skills. Getting used to that XBox 360 controller was no easy task for this NES and Sega girl! Because I was in a comfortable environment to practice , and because these guys are two of the best gamers I’ve met yet in life, I got to reignite my passion for video games. Basically, I am establishing that my core love for video games, the amount of time I spent playing them as a kid, and the way games connected me with people I may have never interacted with is not an uncommon story for many other girls and boys, men and women.  In my opinion, I don’t think boys are more encouraged than girls to play video games or go into game development, just like I don’t think girls are discouraged from it. I think circumstances determine whether a person has the opportunity to play video games and/or if they meet someone who tells them or shows them that making video games (through programming, art, music, or management) is a career option.

Bill CLinton NBA Jam

 

I am a video game lover and musician who happened to reconnect with my love of video games through my husband Chris and friend Phil (my current team at Outhouse Games). I have these two men in my life who discovered that learning to make games doesn’t require going back to school.  Phil went from doing 3-D graphics and animation for another company to learning how to program his own games to incorporate his artwork into.  Chris went from being an IT guy working on other companies’ computers and systems to learning how to program and using his business and management experience for his own business. I went from being a classically trained musician and music teacher to learning how to program music so I could implement it into and enhance games with it. We all discovered this avenue after we’d studied, gotten “real jobs” and had enough life experience to realize that we don’t want to spend this gift we’ve been given, life, working for someone else and helping them make their dreams come true. We figured out a way to make our own dreams come true!

                  I gave a somewhat misleading title to this article, because it seems to be a topic that is currently trending- women in tech. Specifically women in the video game industry. My personal conclusion is that I think if anyone, man or woman, puts in the time and hard work it takes to master their craft, has a great attitude, continues to learn and grow, is passionate about what they are doing, and lines themselves up with the right people, they can be successful and respected in any industry. My goal isn’t to just be a woman in the games industry for the sake of being a woman here. I want to show people that I can make quality music and sound effects that will connect people to a game and make it the best, most complete package it can be. I just happened to have been born a girl!

Outhouse Games: A Family Affair!

An artist, a programmer, a musician, (and a tester): This is the tale of the Outhouse Games team and how friends became family.  It all started way back in 2001, when Chris packed everything he owned into a U-Haul and moved to Orlando on a whim.  From Michigan!  He applied to work security at Universal Studios. He kind of got the job- he got assigned to work at Men in Black at Universal Studios Orlando!

men-in-black

 

This is where he met a young Phil Bias, who was working at Men in Black before attending D.A.V.E. School. These two seemed like opposites, but after getting assigned to work parades together, they gained a mutual appreciation for each other’s work ethic, sense of humor, and love of movies. Within a year, the two became roommates and continued to work together.

In the summer of 2005, Chris, Phil, and Bethany separately attended the same System of a Down concert in downtown Orlando. This is not where the three met.  Bethany was in her 2nd year of teaching middle school chorus. By this time, Chris was a manager at Smarte Carte and maintained the touch screen lockers at both Universal theme parks. Phil was working in the Computer Graphics industry at Wolfhound Inc.  in Longwood, FL. A week after the concert, Chris was browsing in Myspace (haha) and stumbled on Bethany’s profile. He was drawn to her love of music, something which had always been a big part of his life. Bethany was skeptical about meeting people online. However, she gave this guy a chance seeing how he had just attended the System of a Down concert. Music connects people! Bethany and Chris had their first date at Pat O’ Brien’s in City Walk (ask Chris about that sometime…), and from that night forward, they spent most of their time together.  Bethany quickly became the third amigo when the three of them stayed overnight outside of Best Buy waiting to buy XBox 360s!!

Through a marriage, the birth of Chris and Bethany’s child “G”, the death of family members, and a couple of career changes, the 3 ½ (the ½ being “G”) have stuck together! They’ve been navigating through life in a very unique way- as 3 best friends supporting each other. At this point, all three have left their previous jobs and careers and are working full time for Outhouse Games studio.

Now that the trio is working at the studio full time, the programmer, the artist, the musician, (and sometimes the tester) can sit side by side as their concepts come to life. Each person brings their creativity to the table for the upcoming title, Damsel in Distress. Keeping the levels  interesting, the obstacles challenging, and the storyline engaging and relatable are not easy tasks, but the saying “2 heads are better than 1” is true.  Even though the amount of time this trio spends together causes them to “occasionally” fight like siblings (and then there’s the married couple working together…), at the end of the day, their passion for games, hard work, and creativity make them Outhouse Games.