IamA "unicorn" - 25 year old female video game studio head! AMA!
My name is Renee Gittins and I lead the Seattle based game studio, Stumbling Cat. VentureBeat called me a "unicorn". I am currently heading the development of a game called Potions: A Curious Tale.
My formal business bio sounds very fancy:
Renee is a multi-disciplinary leader with expertise in software engineering and creative direction. She is the CEO of Stumbling Cat, creator of Potions: A Curious Tale. She led engineering and server development at Fixer Studios, and designed and developed cognitive evaluation mini-games and health management systems for X2 Biosystems.
Renee is a passionate advocate and connector for developers and diversity in the game industry. Renee organizes game-jams, panels, job fairs and other developer events as a board member of IGDA Seattle, contributes to Broken Joysticks, and actively mentors game development students at Foundry10.
However, when it comes down to it, I'm just a huge geek/nerd that one day realized instead of just playing video games, I could be making video games!
So, let me tell you a bit more about who I am:
- A ilvl 725 feral druid
- A huge cosplayer
- 5'11" (seriously, I'm tall!)
- Goju Ryu Karate black belt (studying for over 20 years now)
Alright, alright, being more serious, let me tell you how I got where I am:
The first game I ever played was Wolfenstein 3D on DOS. I eagerly watched my father play first person shooters on the PC until I took over the controls myself. First person shooters were really my introduction to video games. I played both Doom and Duke Nukem 3D on PC long before touching a console or other genre of game.
I grew up as an only child, so books and video games (and MtG) kept me entertained when my parents were busy. In all of that spare time, I also got a little obsessive with my studies. I eventually graduated from high school as a valedictorian and went to Harvey Mudd College to study engineering... because I had seriously no clue what I wanted to do. My cousin and uncle were engineers and it seemed interesting enough.
My freshman year of college I was introduced to programming and absolutely loved it, but I felt like I had missed the train, as every other CS major had been programming long before college, so I stuck with my engineering degree.
I cosplayed, wrote tutorials, kept blogs, and was activity in many game communities (most notably the League of Legends community and Team Liquid) all as ways to express my massive fondness and passion for video games.
My senior year of college, these passions ended up connecting me with game developers and I suddenly realized: holy crap, people make video games AND I COULD BE ONE OF THEM!
My life changed from that moment.
Unfortunately, I was already deep into engineering and I didn't have a good skill set (aside from leadership/management, which I studied and practiced in college) for game development.
Thus, I went into biotech as a System & Design Engineer and started studying programming on the side. Eventually, I switched to the software team at the biotech company I was at, and started moonlighting at indie game studios on the side.
Finally, a year and a half ago, I left biotech to throw my life and savings into my own game and my own game studio.
And... here I am! I have built up a wonderful team around me and pursued my passions. I am so excited to be where I am now.
Of course, like many AMAs, I am currently trying to increase awareness towards my project. I just launched the Kickstarter for my game: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1268017280/potions-a-curious-tale
Don't let the graphics and cute main character drop your guard, Potions: A Curious Tale is an intense game, with resource limited combat, tricky boss fights and requires constant dodging and creative counters.
Oh, and I've VERY obsessed with and have lots of experience with virtual reality, so feel free to ask me about that, too!!
Anyway, let me throw some articles/videos at you for additional question fodder:
I have a couple hours to answer questions, then I have to run off to the amazing Emerald City Comic Con to run a panel on WomenInTech. Please swing by and meet me if you're attending!
Thank you all so much for your questions! I had a great time!
Catch you next time!