Ladies in Gaming Biz

Ladies in Gaming Biz: Ana at Nerd Monkeys

The name LadiesGamers isn’t chosen randomly, our name sort of gives it away: even when our writers and readers are of different genders, we especially welcome female gamers. After all, that’s how the site started: with the views of an older woman on the world of gaming. And for a couple of years now there are two older ladies at the helm!

We feel it’s time to give women that work in the gaming industry a podium. A lot of avid gamers would probably love to have a job in the industry themselves and we think it’s especially important to encourage girls, in particular, to go for their dream job.

So time for a new series of articles, featuring ladies who are working in the gaming business! Interested? You’ll find the other interviews here. 

Meet Ana at Nerd Monkeys

Who is Ana in everyday life? Can you tell us a bit about your private life?

She’s a person you don’t see very often. Not because she’s a rare specimen – although she is indeed a bit… unique – but because she stays at home practically the whole time. The natural habitat of this creature is definitely the couch. The pandemic isolation wasn’t as hard on her as on other people. Also, she’s very passionate about animals. She has an adorable bi-polar calico cat and the sweetest border collie baby girl.

When she’s not working, Ana is usually chilling with them. Another thing about her is that she loves Japanese culture very much, especially for blending traditional and modern society values. And of course, there’s anime and fantastic video games, so what’s not to love about Japan? The fur babies’ Instagram handles: @justakiricat and @hollyacollie, don’t forget to check them out.

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Kiri cat

Tell us a bit about the company you work at.

Nerd Monkeys is probably one of Portugal’s most reputed gaming companies, and I’ve known their work practically since the start, 8 years ago. Mostly because I’m friends with Diogo Vasconcelos, one of the studio’s founders. The company is small yet robust. It’s certainly bigger than I expected at the beginning, at least.

I’m very excited to be working with so many talented people and amazing titles, like our upcoming title, Out of Line or the crazy cute free multiplayer Monkey Split and classics Detective Case and Clown Bot! We recently started working as a publisher, bringing Traffix to the Nintendo Switch as our first publishing experience. We have other very exciting new things coming up that my team is helping to build up practically from zero! It’s the most wonderful privilege to be witnessing it all!

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Out of Line game

How long have you been with the company, and how did you land this job?

It feels like it’s been longer, but I joined only half a year ago. Basically, I’ve been drifting in life like a leaf caught on a whirlwind. For the longest time, I’ve been working in retail and then tourism because those were the opportunities that presented themselves. Then I heard Nerd Monkeys was undergoing some changes and thought of finally putting my shyness aside and ask Diogo if they needed someone new for their Communication Department. And as luck would have it, they did! I’m still not sure which lucky stars aligned, but for once, my timing was right!

Was the fact that it had to do with video games an added incentive?

It was absolutely crucial! To paint the picture for you, for the first time in my life, I had a steady job for three years where I was happy. Working in the gaming industry was the only reason that’d make me risk everything else.

Does your educational background match your position in the gaming industry?

To quote Frozen, for the first time in forever, YES! I went to university to study Communication. I still didn’t know back then what I wanted to specialize in, so I went for the broadest major there was. I figured I’d find my calling there. In the three-year duration of my studies, I still hadn’t found an answer, though. All I knew was that I liked multimedia and video games. Maybe that lack of direction is the reason why I’ve wandered by for so long.

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Holly the border collie

Gaming Habits

Do you play video games yourself, or have you played them in the past growing up?

Gamer since 1993! (I think before 3 years of age, one can’t really be considered to be much of anything other than a baby yet.) I’ve always liked games, and for an extended period of my life, my Game Boy was my absolute best friend. I didn’t play a lot of the classics, though. I’d always go more towards the games targeted for my age at the time, like Disney games, eventually The Sims, but what really turned me into a nerd was Pokémon. The love for collecting these fantastic creatures has turned me into a walking pokédex to this day and made me have a whole other appreciation for more and more games. I still get to play games both for work and leisure. What a luxury!

What is your preferred video game console or handheld device to play games on?

Lol. Not too long ago, my answer would easily have been the Nintendo Switch. But recently, I’ve finished Horizon Zero Dawn (on the PlayStation 5). And I’ve been able to complete a lot of games I’d been postponing, thanks to Game Pass (on the Xbox One and Series). So to be fair, I can’t really pick a definitive answer now. I’d feel like I was betraying one of the friends in my circle.

What is your favourite gaming genre and why, and what is the game you are currently playing?

*Ana flips pages in her bullet journal to find what she’s currently playing because her head can’t keep up with things anymore*
Ah! So, I have Yes, Your Grace a bit on hold right now because I’ve picked up New Pokémon Snap but also got back to replaying Dragon Quest Builders 2 for some reason that logic cannot explain. About genres, I’d say my favourite is probably RPGs, but I don’t say no to other genres, like simulators, idle games, SOME platformers (which can be on a love/hate relationship basis), etc. I love exploring rich environments and alternative universes, being in someone else’s shoes, and enjoy the sensation of being a badass powerful something else! Hahahaha!

Women in the Gaming Industry

Do you feel the gaming industry is still very much male-dominated, or do you think that has changed or is changing?

Not so much, no. I might be fantasizing, but although some of our thoughts are still very programmed to assume that this is a male-dominated industry, things have clearly changed. A recent report study conducted for Sony indicates console ownership among females to have increased, pointing to 18% of PS1 owners being women, against 41% in PS4/PS5. Of course, one can’t say for sure how accurate these numbers are, but I find them very revealing nonetheless. There IS a market for every gamer out there. It’s our job to make sure we cater to them all.

Do you think a woman has a different approach when it comes to making a video game?

There’s a very interesting channel on Youtube, Jubilee, that I find myself watching sometimes. I don’t know what assumptions the algorithm makes about me, but it keeps being suggested, and I’m cool with it! Now, how does that relate to this question? They have a series called Spectrum. The recipe of this format is “Do all (insert group) think the same way?” and people will answer on a scale from 1 to 5. We all know every individual has their own view of the world.

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Detective Case and Clown Bot game

Still, when explaining the reason behind their choices, we understand that despite having significant things in common, everyone’s perspective is shaped by their experiences and social context. The same goes for women’s approach to video game development. Just the other day, we had an interesting conversation among some ladies at Nerd Monkeys about character design because we weren’t all perceiving them the same way. It’s much more complex, but overall, every time an industry opens up to more diversified people, the sector becomes richer and more aware.

What advice would you give girls who have a dream to one day have a job in the gaming industry?

Go for it! There’s no reason why you shouldn’t! If it’s something that you love and you’re good at, throw yourself into it. As in any other passion career, you’ll experience rejection, working maybe a bit too hard, stress beyond your nightmares, and struggling to perfect your craft. It’s no different than any other career path – especially those related to any art form. Be strong, spirited and daring, and you’ll succeed! I’ll wish you good luck as well because we all need it too.

If you could be a character in a game, which one would it be and why?

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Ana’s Blade & Soul character

Probably my Blade & Soul character. Not because I’m anything like her, but she’s just awesome: she’s tiny but thick, cute and sexy, hella powerful, and she’s a Warlock that throws fire and summons demons. Although let’s not forget I have my cat, dog, and boyfriend at home, so I’d still rather be myself at the end of the day. XD

Many thanks to Ana for agreeing to take part in our Ladies in Gaming Biz interviews.

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