'I Made a Small RPG in Two Weeks' An Interview w/Game Developer Joana Almeidaby@andreea
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'I Made a Small RPG in Two Weeks' An Interview w/Game Developer Joana Almeida

by JoanaMarch 20th, 2022
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Joana is a programmer, hobbyist game developer, and technical writer at [Distantjob]. She grew up in a household where tech was always present and it became a part of her life. Her biggest challenge was finding a place as a woman in a world where men are far more prevalent. She is excited about VR and AR technology, but is worried about NFTs. Share your story with the HackerNoon editorial team at Do you know a woman who has worked in tech? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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The HackerNoon editorial team has launched this interview series with women in tech to celebrate their achievements and share their struggles. We need more women in technology, and by sharing stories, we can encourage many girls to follow their dreams. Share your story today!

Tell us about yourself!

Hi! I'm Joana! I'm a programmer, hobbyist game developer, and technical writer at Distantjob!

I've worked primarily on Software and Videogame Development! I've also freelanced in art and UI Design.

Videogames are my passion. Both making and playing them!

Why did you choose this field in the first place?

I had the luck of growing up in a household where tech was always present and it became a part of my life. My father, although not formally educated in any tech field, always had a passion for it, and we had access to a computer fairly early.

I became an avid user of our home computer and fell in love with the possibilities. I was playing computer games when I was as young as 5. I became interested in how they worked and decided as time went by that I wanted to make them too! At the time, although we had a computer, internet access was almost non-existent, so I didn't have much to go by in terms of resources where I could learn on my own.

So I decided to pursue IT and programming at University so I could learn how to do it! And the rest is history!

What tech are you most excited/passionate about right now and why?

I'd say a combination of VR and AR. I've tried it before, and it wasn't exactly ground-breaking, but I can definitely recognize the potential it can have as a tool for interaction with all sorts of media.

What tech are you most worried about right now and why?

Definitely NFTs. I just don't see the need or appeal. Their recent adoption by major corporations, as well as their effects on the environment, are really worrying.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of tech?

Oh, I have a ton! I find it hard to make time for them all, but I try!

I dabble in digital art and animation, play Tabletop RPGs with several groups of friends, do DIY crafts, write fiction, and read about history! That's not all, but it's the ones I engage with most frequently.

Let's talk about breaking the glass ceiling. What were the biggest challenges you faced as a woman in tech, and how did you deal with them?

I guess the biggest challenge was finding a place as a woman in a world where men are far more prevalent. It was hard at first. Thankfully, I've met great people over the course of my life and never met much pushback, but the reality is that even in that scenario, there's still a chance for harm.

At university, I was seen as "one of the guys" by my group of friends. In 10+ people, I was the single female member, so it felt nice to be welcomed into a group of men despite your gender, but at the same time, it disconnected me from the rest of the female community. Being young and foolish, I looked at other women that weren't "the guys" (and there weren't many that would fit that description in my eyes at the time) and found myself avoiding them in order to preserve my status among my friends.

Eventually, I realized how silly this all was and stopped doing it altogether. Thankfully, I think our global society is also evolving past this sort of mentality. But in a way, it wasn't an easy thing to get over.

Any interesting misogynistic story/situation you faced/handled, and you want to share with the HackerNoon Fam?

I've had an instance or two of peers looking down at me because of who I was, and it was hard at first convincing my biggest friends in my community that it was happening. To them, it seemed like I was just seeing things where they didn't exist.

I had the fortunate position of being able to ignore the people looking down on me and move on past them. Let my work do my talking for me, as they say. Eventually, my friends in the community saw those people for what they were and what I was talking about. So I guess it worked out in the end.

What was the biggest setback/failure that you faced, and how did you manage it?

I've been developing a videogame project with a few of my best friends for a few years. The project was about to receive funding, only for the negotiations to take an unexpected turn and the project going on standby. It was extremely difficult at the time, and we're all still recovering from the blowback.

We're trying other venues right now, but none of them are certain. Hopefully, I can say in the future that I managed to overcome it!

What's your biggest achievement that you're really proud of?

The biggest one so far was a short game I developed, named The Summit. Even though it's a little barebone in terms of progression, I managed to make a small RPG (with help from my great friend Tiago Rodrigues for the sounds and music) in two weeks’ time! It was a great experience that I'm hoping I can replicate sometime soon!

In your opinion, why do we see this huge gender gap in the tech industry, and how can we reduce it?

There are many historical reasons as to why women were discouraged out of tech, but nowadays I think it's just a matter of making sure they feel represented and welcome in their chosen field.

I think that if girls and women grow that passion for tech (much like it happened to me over my childhood), and see that they have a place in it with the help of other pioneering women, they will eventually retake their space in dictating the future of tech and that in turn will open the way to even more women joining the fray.

Who is your tech idol? Why?

One of the games that changed my life was Aquaria. One of its developers, Derek Yu, is a huge inspiration. He went on to make the Spelunky games, and they were (and still are!) a huge success.

I've actually met him once in passing, and he was very kind! I hope I get to meet him again in some less rushed scenario next time.

To this day he remains a huge inspiration to me. I hope I get to experience just a fraction of his career's notes.

Do you have any advice for aspiring girls who want to join the field?

I guess the best advice I can give anyone is to find a subject you're passionate about and start working on it. In any way possible! Nowadays it's really easy to get into anything you put your mind to with the help of the internet.

Picking something you enjoy and love makes it harder to give up and let go. That is really the most important thing, maintaining the momentum. Sometimes you find out what you're working on isn't what you really want after all, and that's ok! Just pay attention and keep exploring related topics as you go, and you'll eventually find the one thing you're really good at and enjoy doing at the same time!