Ladies in Gaming Biz

Ladies In Gaming Biz: Gajda Andreea at Gacriva Studio

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!

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

Meet Gajda at Gacriva Studio

Who is Gajda in everyday life? Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Gajda Andreea, and I am a mother of a 4-year-old boy. Currently I wear many hats, working in the gaming industry. I am married to a game developer (and a very good one I might add). He is also the CEO at Gacriva, we are together in this journey by supporting each other.

What is your professional history when it comes to gaming?

At first I worked as a “helpful programmer” position at Gacriva Studio, but in time I noticed that the programming part isn’t for me. Aside from working as a personal assistant to the developer, I found my passion in marketing in the gaming industry.  I also create a sort of “free marketing advice” on my Twitter Profile @DevLand95213410 that has a Kofi Page added with marketing blogs. The blogs are about the gaming industry and how to get a game through the investment part, it features budget plans, strategy, and much more. Also, I have set up a newsletter on the profile page.

Can you tell us a bit about Gacriva studio?

My husband started out as a gamer who loved modding games, turning to experimenting with  gaming engines which ended in developing games. After a while he started to lead the development and built a good team. I suggested that he apply for E.U. funding to start an indie game studio by his own.He wrote a business plan, applied for the funding and won the competition. Both our motivation comes foremost from wanting to secure the future of our son.

So in 2019 Romanian studio Gacriva was founded, an indie game studio that develops Pc Games, so far has developed and published Awaken The Time. The game has been in Alpha stage since November 2020 and the future plans for the title are to finish the development and get the full release out there. Releasing on other platforms, like Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, Linux and Mac, are in our plans too.

Awaken the Time is in Alpha stage

We are also working on Falling Torture. Future plans are to port this to PC, consoles and tablets/mobile, making players able to game online cross-platform. The demo for single-and multiplayer is available on Itchio and Vox Pop Games.

So, lots of plans for this small team on a work-for-hire basis, but we are still growing. Currently our studio develops other genres and types for a different audience, but I’m still hoping to see more educational games developed in the near future.

The demo for Falling Torture is already available

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

My original profession was very similar to my current marketing position but in a different sector. All my life I have done accountancy for other companies, until I landed the position of a “programmer” as you can read above. After switching to the job of digital marketer in the same industry I now loving what I do. I’ve learned and am still learning how to be a good marketeer and get more experience in the business development sector. This experience is a very good basis for me to run my own gaming studio in the near future or just to be able to apply for this position as an employee.

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

The first game that I played was Gods, a video game from 1991 and a very complex game for its time. It had an inventory system, powers, puzzles and a lot of mechanics. Much more than side scrollers that came after that and became more popular.

When I got my first console (Terminator), a SEGA ripoff, and on this one there were 3 games that I’d liked most. Tanks, a samurai game that I don’t remember the name of, and Doctor Mario. I liked Doctor Mario even more than Super Mario Bros!

When I had my first PC I played a lot of games but the Gothic series really captured my attention. Then I’ve played Minecraft a lot and I discovered mods. I ended up modding games more than playing them! By the time I discovered Skyrim there was already a modding community and I ended up crushing the game way too many times because of the excessive mods. I ended up playing all Skyrim quest mods and after that, I didn’t find another game to pleased me that much. There is an MMORPG that will be released soon that really has captured my interest: Ashes of Creation.

Ashes of Creation

Because of my interest in games and modding I got interested in game engines to create my own games. I started with Cryengine but couldn’t find enough resources to learn it from, so I switched to Lumberyard but faced the same problem as with Cryengine. I tried Unity because that engine had a big community but switched to Unreal Engine and I stuck with that. It was like I had a mystic connection with Epic, for example, as soon as I decided that I wanted to learn Animation blueprint, they started a Livestream teaching that. Or if I wanted more resources, they released weekly free assets, I wanted more realistic environment props and there was quixel and so on. My dream since childhood is to make a huge game and that will only be possible to make in Unreal Engine 5.

What is your favourite gaming genre and why?

Sandbox games, because I can express my creativity. I like to play Minecraft or 7 Days To Die with a friend on a LAN connection because in most of the servers there are way too many hackers and if there are no hackers then you have the griphers…..

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

Mobile and Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Playstation 4. On mobile, I mostly play free games and I must say I get bored fast. On mobile, there is one game that I’m playing most: The Blockheads which is like Terraria.

Playing the Blockheads on mobile

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

I feel this every day, but I’ve also seen that there is a very strong community that supports women in games, even the women who are leading a company give funding because they invest only if there is a woman as a founder. I don’t think women have a different approach to making games though.

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

Don’t think you are different or not good enough because you are a woman, even if 90% of companies will reject you. Keep to applying, study harder, don’t be afraid to ask, there will always be an answer.
Look at my example even though I’m a full-time mother, I’m still learning even when I have 5 minutes free, and do the job even when you have to work late hours. If you love what you are doing, don’t give up, keep fighting for your dreams.

Gacriva is also working on Lost Cause

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

A Dovakin, a Dragonborn in ancient dragon language, a rare individual that was born with dragon blood but with the body of a mortal. I’d choose that because it can rival the gods from Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim!

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