RMIT graduate Cherie Davidson talks game development, working in London and what it means to be named one of the most influential women in the local games industry.
Having recently finished her Bachelor of Information Technology (Games and Graphics Programming), Davidson has made her mark on the local games scene while working on a games project with fellow RMIT graduates.
Earlier this year, she was named by MCV Pacific as one of the 75 most influential women across all facets of the Australian and New Zealand games industries.
After a four-month placement in London with award-winning game development studio Media Molecule - thanks to Film Victoria’s Games Professional Placement Initiative - she recently accepted a position as associate producer.
How would you describe what you do?
I'm a jack-of-all-trades: digital artist, programmer, developer and creator. I can build a game from scratch by myself, but I generally prefer working in a team in the area of technical art and production where my programming and creative skills can come together.
What did you study to develop your interest in games?
While I was completing the Bachelor of Arts (Digital Art) - now Bachelor of Design (Games) - I found I really enjoyed the technical electives. When I finished, I decided to go back and study the Bachelor of Information Technology (Games and Graphics Programming).
This year you were named as one of the most influential women in games in Australia and New Zealand. How important is the issue of female representation in the games industry?
There's a lot of talk about sexism in games as well as the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields. Sometimes it's blindingly obvious, but it's usually subtle, ingrained and really hard to notice. Sadly, it can mean that girls are not even attempting to get into STEM fields because society has taught them it's only for boys.
Personally, I've felt far more welcome in the development space than I ever did in the player space. Game makers know that games are for everyone and the industry is slowly embracing it.
I'm honoured to be recognised as one of MCV Pacific's Most Influential Women in Games in Australia and New Zealand, but in the end, it's a collaborative effort and we need more diverse representation in the industry generally.
Your four-month Film Victoria placement with UK games studio Media Molecule has become a full time job. What will your new role involve?
Production is a really hard job to quantify as you can't point at specific bits of code or game props you’ve created. I spend my time making sure everyone else in the team knows what they're doing and keeping things on track. It's kind of like a support role that fits between the end product and the developer.
What’s it like working in London for a prestigious games studio like Media Molecule?
The London games scene is a little different from home and Media Molecule is a very special company. They care deeply about their team and their projects.
They’re an acclaimed game development company with around 50 staff and it’s fascinating to see how they work as a team on such creative, high-quality projects.
What are you hoping to achieve over the next few years?
I want to absorb as much knowledge as I can from the team, work hard, make amazing games and eventually return to Melbourne and start my own studio.
My advice to anyone entering the games field is just to follow your heart. Games are absolutely run on passion. You don’t get into game development for the pay or job security, but you will end up meeting and working with the most amazing people in one of the most creative, engaging fields.
One of the most important things I've learned is that if you don't have a definitive life-plan, don't sweat it. Just go with the flow, do what you love and do it well. Take as many opportunities as you can and never stop learning.
Story: Daniel Walder