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.
Let’s talk to Crystal Sciarrino indie developer for Critter Crops from SkyReach Studios and Charmaine Duff, marketing manager from SkyReach Studios.
Meet Crystal and Charmaine from SkyReach Studios
Please, introduce yourselves and can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Hello! My name is Crystal Sciarrino, also known as Critter Dev. I am the developer of Critter Crops, an isometric, farming adventure RPG.
I’m Charmaine Duff, but people call me Char. I’ve been doing social media marketing/ community management for a few years now.
What is your professional history when it comes to gaming?
Crystal: I’ve been an artist and tech enthusiast for most of my life. As a child, I dabbled in robotics, coding, art and other mediums. Now, as a mother, I’m able to show my children that hard work can get you your dream job and the ability to pursue your dreams! This is my first start to finish title, however, I’ve dabbled in other projects and learned so much. I’m very excited to use all of those skills to deliver my first feature title.
Tell us a bit about your studio SkyReach Studios?
Crystal: SkyReach was the first name that came to my mind when I began dabbling in game development. The name is very near and dear to my heart, I came from an impoverished family and the idea of shooting for the stars always motivated me to keep striving for more. Keep reaching for the sky until you can’t anymore!
The goal of SkyReach Studio is to create games that resonate with the old values of gaming. What I mean by that is games with compelling stories, fun gameplay, relatable characters and worlds. SkyReach strives to develop the worlds we all want to escape to when we sit down to play a game.
What prompted you to found or work at SkyReach Studio?
Crystal: SkyReach was born out of a dream to become the owner of a game development studio that makes games with gamers in mind.
Charmaine: I’ve always loved gaming and sharing my love of games. They were something I escaped to a lot as a child. I always joke that video games raised me. Haha. I met Crystal a few years ago when I first got into social media marketing for games. We clicked pretty fast and I’m so happy to call her my friend. She approached me about Critter Crops back in May and of course, I agreed to go on this amazing journey with her.
Do your educational backgrounds match your positions in the gaming industry?
Crystal: I actually do not have a game development educational background. My degree is in a similar field though, I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science.
Charmaine: I am actually going for a degree in Cyber Security, but have paused my education to take care of my family and pursue marketing for games. My degree was great, but I definitely have more of a passion for marketing games than I do for the cyber security field.
Do you both play games yourselves, or have you played them in the past growing up?
Crystal: I’ve been playing games since I was very small. I think one of my first games was “Yoshi Story” on Nintendo 64. Gaming has always been a great way for me to make friends, de-stress and just enjoy a world outside my own.
Charmaine: I feel like I came out of the womb playing games. Haha! The first system I remember playing on was Sega Genesis, but the first game that really stuck close to me was Final Fantasy 7.
What is your favourite gaming genre and why?
Crystal: It’s hard for me to choose just one honestly. Of course one of my favourite genres is the farming sim genre. However, I do also play a lot of RPG’s. I’m not usually picky.
Charmaine: I’ll try any game, but RPGs are definitely my favourite. Give me a rich, deep story, an element of adventure, hope, and loss and you’ve captured my heart.
What is your preferred video game console or handheld device to play games on?
Crystal: I’ve been a PC gamer lately however I love playing on my Switch and Xbox.
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?
Crystal: I do feel the gaming industry is still male-dominated, however, I feel like it’s changing. Although the change is moving quite slowly, I’m happy that I get to be part of the evolution of the gaming industry.
Do you think a woman has a different approach when it comes to making games?
Crystal: I think women have the unique perspective of understanding what other women might want to see in games. Most games in my experience have a pretty distinctly male perspective from the design, I think that if men and women could effectively collaborate that games could offer a perspective that fits a more neutral ground that appeals to all genders.
What advice would you give girls who have a dream to one day have a job in the gaming industry?
Crystal: Work hard! The gaming industry is a difficult and competitive field regardless of gender. Building a skill set through practice, perseverance and hard work is paramount to finding success in this field. Also, seek out a mentor! I’ve had the pleasure of working with other incredible developers who were able to give me so much help and advice. Their guidance has really been invaluable in my path as a developer.
Charmaine: I love what Crystal said above and I’d just like to add that you’re not alone! There are other amazing, talented, and experienced women out there in the industry who would love to help you on your quest. I’m so proud to be working with Crystal to inspire more women developers and young girls.
If you could be a character in a game, which one would it be and why?
Crystal: This is such a hard question to answer! I would be Kara from Detroit: Become Human. Aside from the fact this game was absolutely incredible, Kara was such a brave and relatable character. She went up against so much and in the face of adversity and danger, she chose to become the solution. Throughout the game, she maintained this sense of loyalty, love and dedication. I just really think she is such an admirable character.
A demo for Critter Crops can be found on the SkyReach page on itch.io You can also follow the games progress on the Kickstarter page here.
LadiesGamers would like to thank Crystal and Charmaine for taking part in this interview.
You can now follow Critter Crops on KS! 🧡
I'll explain a bit below on why I decided on a KS campaign for early next year, but for now, here's a link!
— Critter Crops 🔜The Game Awards (@CritterCrops) September 24, 2021