Welcome to the late June edition of 5 Questions With. My schedule has been a bit thrown off the past couple of weeks, but should be good going forward.
I sat down with Amanda Lange who is currently a Technical Evangelist with Microsoft in the Philadelphia area and a staff writer for Tap Repeatedly. She is a passionate video game player, developer, artist, and critic. Check out her blog Second Truth and follow her on twitter at @second_truth.
How or why did you become a developer?
I didn't start out as a developer; I stated out as an artist. When I was young I was interested in learning BASIC then did some HTML as a web designer in my teen years. I was interested in making my own websites for stuff I was interested in. When I went to college I decided I wanted to be an animator because I was really, really interested in cartoons so I did about 4 years of animation and was really focused on the technical aspects of animation. When I went for my master's degree, I shifted more toward development. For me, it has always been a combination of programming and art. I have never considered myself a pure programmer.
Why do you focus on game development?
I have had a passion for games since I was super little. I started out with a Super Nintendo, moved up to the Play Station, and even took the Play Station to college against my mom's wishes. I took it because games are a big part of my life. I did not realize game development was a career option at the time and that is why I started out more on the cartoon / animation side. It was later in college I realized my skills could be used for game development.
What is your favorite game and why?
This is such a super hard question. The default answer I give is Chrono Trigger (from Super NES). What I have been playing lately is Episode 3 of Kentucky Root Zero which is an indie game that I am really fascinated with. I really like adventure games, horror games (Silent Hill, Resident Evil, etc.), and weird stuff. And I love Halo. The soundtrack from Assassin's Creed 4 is phenomenal even though I have not played it yet. I am super excited about Halo 5. The question is hard to answer as I love so much.
What attracted you to work at Microsoft?
I have always used Microsoft stuff and never really owned an Apple product. A big reason for that is because of the game engines I work on run better in Windows. I am really enthusiastic about the Xbox, and think the Surface is pretty cool. It is really an attraction to the products Microsoft makes, the products that work with Windows, and the position was a good fit for me.
What words of wisdom would you give to a younger developer?
My advice is to realize what you are really passionate about and start thinking about it as soon as you can. If it is something you would do anyway as opposed to being told to do then maybe that is your passion. Listen to what your brain is telling you what you really want to do. Try many different things to see what interests you the most.
Bonus: Advice for being a woman in the technology industry.
A lot of people will tell you that it's really scary, although personally, I have met so many supportive mentors, so many people who have given me advice, and have given me that "you can do it" kind of approach. There are a lot of really cool women in this industry, and you should not let someone try to psych you out of joining. You can be smart and talented enough. There are women and men out there who want you to succeed as we need the diversity in games (and the industry in general). Reach out to me. Find the people who are going to be your friends and support you. Believe in yourself.
Thank you Amanda for your time and the great conversation. Until next month (really later this month), get out there and be awesome to everyone.