Welcome to Dames Who Make Games, Gamerwife’s interview series with the lovely ladies who make our video games. Whether you’re a QA tester or a company VP, we want to hear what you have to say. And remember to click “Continue reading” for the whole story.
Yay! We’re finally back with another Dames Who Make Games profile and I couldn’t be more excited. This time around I got the chance to interview Keisha C., a level artist at Spearhead Games here in Montreal. Spearhead is a small studio, with fewer than 16 employees, but they still make big ambitious games like Tiny Brains & Arena: Cyber Evolution. Thanks so much to Keisha for taking the time to answer my infernal questions!
Gamerwife: Let’s start at the beginning, what was the first game you ever played?
Keisha: The first games I played were Duck Hunt and Mario with my cousins. We played a lot of games together (Final Fantasy, Shadow of the Colossus, to name a few others I remember), I always enjoyed watching the characters and the environments. We used to fight because they would skip the cutscenes, which I thought were the best part!
GW: What made you decide on a career in games?
Keisha: All I’ve ever really wanted was to be employed at a creative job. I had a 3D modeling class while I was at Dawson learning illustration and fell in love with the medium. It took me a couple more years to decide to make the leap and study it specifically for games. When I heard of the 3D modeling program, I pounced.
GW: Where did you go to school and what did you study?
Keisha: I have an Illustration and Design degree from Dawson College, where I got a taste for 3D modeling. From there I went on to get a degree from Le campus A.D.N, in 3D modeling for video games.
GW: What are the best/worst things about working in video games?
Keisha: The best thing about working in video games is the pace. I love the quick thinking and the adaptable nature of the medium. The projects are rarely the same, so as an artist, you get to work with multiple art styles, you get to try out different strategies and technologies. Also, working with designers to make levels both beautiful and understandable leads you to find compromises and novel ways to express your art.
The worst thing about working in video games is the pace. Different projects and new technologies unfortunately also means completely new development that needs to be completed on tight deadlines. All this can translate to long hours… Managing stress is very important.
GW: Have you ever had issues with harassment or discrimination as a women in video games?
Keisha: Fortunately, I can’t say that I have experienced either of these things.
GW: What advice do you have for other women who want to be involved in game development?
Keisha: Networking and working on personal projects are very important. Research companies, go to video game events, meet developers and show them what you’re working on. It might be scary, intimidating or hard to get through the door, but the outcome will totally be worth it!
GW: And finally, what games are you playing right now?
Keisha: Right now, I’m playing Tomb Raider and Fez.
About Keisha C.:
Keisha Chauvin is a level artist/ 3D artist for Spearhead Games. She studied 3D modeling for video games at A.D.N campus. During her last semester, she got the opportunity to do a 3 month internship with Warner Brothers, where she worked on Cartoon Universe. Once her program and internship were over, she got an opportunity to work for an up and coming studio named Spearhead Games. She has worked with them on Tiny Brains, Arena Cyber Evolution and is currently working on their 3rd project.