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 Sonja Hawranke and Katharina Glowka who run their own studio Golden Orb.
Meet Katharina and Sonja from Golden Orb
Who are you ladies in everyday life? Can you tell us a bit about your private life?
I’m a 35 years old married mother of a gorgeous son and a daughter on the way. Environmentalism represented by vegan nutrition and low waste are some topics that are very important and present in my life. I’m also very thoughtful about diversity and equality and the importance of cherishing every kind of living being on earth.
In my free time, I like to read, play (campaign) board games, travel, hike, climb, imagine shapes/creatures in the clouds or cook with my partner and friends. I try to keep aware of the impact my choices as a consumer have and to act accordingly. And, on an entirely unrelated note, I really would have liked a 3rd season of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”.
Tell us a bit about your studio, what prompted you to found it?
Golden Orb is an award-winning indie game studio located in the beautiful German Ruhr area. With a core team of just two people, we develop story-driven, 21st century fairytale games that offer fun yet thought-provoking gaming experiences.
Prior to founding Golden Orb in spring 2018, we worked together for many years at a Cologne based games studio.
During our time as employees we’ve often worked in the same team and noticed that we work very together as our skills complement each other. All in all we have been working together for the last 13 years now, which makes us an experienced and well-adjusted development team. So, eventually we decided to make our own games with content that is really important to us.
Does your educational background match your positions in the gaming Industry?
Our special fields match our positions in game development. Sonja has a master in programming and I’m a media artist. But since we do kind of everything in our business we might lack some professionality in the administrative fields. To compensate the missing knowledge, we have attended a lot of seminars, workshops, acceleration programs, helpful events and had professional coaching.
Do you play video games yourselves, or have you ladies played them in the past growing up?
I grew up with the PlayStation One and had a brother with whom I played a lot of Tekken. With friends I’ve played a lot of Mario Kart on Super Nintendo. Later on I fell for 2D adventures and puzzles which were replaced by World of Warcraft for some time. Since I started to develop games, I didn’t play much in my free time anymore, for I needed contrast in my life and my interests are widely spread. The role of a mother also doesn’t leave much time for playing at all. So playing games is limited to research nowadays.
Growing up I played PC games at home and for extended weekends even hauled the whole system to some friend’s house to play over local area network. At friends’ homes, I also played a lot of games on Sega systems – first on the Mega Drive, later the Dreamcast. Nowadays, I play mostly on the Nintendo Switch, because it makes for easy travel and still allows me to play on the big screen if I find time to play at home. Admittedly, I play a lot less than I used to, as the job takes up quite a lot of time.
What is your preferred video game console or handheld device to play games on?
I prefer to play on Switch, since I like the Nintendo game world and I’m more the casual gamer who likes easy and fun couch co-op games I can play with my family.
Probably the Nintendo Switch as its portable nature allows me to play games wherever I might find the time for them and still enjoy them on the big screen if I happen to find that time at home.
What is your favorite gaming genre and why, and what is the game you are currently playing?
At the moment I prefer co-op or short, easy multiplayer games I can play online with friends. Since Covid is preventing us to meet in person, it’s a nice way to stay in contact once in a while. Games like “Among us” or “Witch it” offer a quick and fun way to do so.
Actually, I enjoy quite a variety of genres and tend to pick which game to play depending on mood and available time. At the moment, I’m mostly playing “It Takes Two” together with my partner.
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?
Yes, I think the gaming industry is still very male dominated. A good example was the German developer award „Deutscher Entwicklerpreis” 2020 in which of 40 participants only 4 female developers represented the nominated candidates. Yet there are a lot of attempts of changing that. Sonja and I won the prize for female developers in that award show, which was especially created to highlight ladies in the gaming industry.
Do you think a woman has a different approach when it comes to making a video game?
Yes, I do think that women often want to express something meaningful with their games. Of course there are surely also female hardcore gaming splatter developers, but I have a feeling most women prefer deep thought and individual and creative presentations.
What advice would you give girls who have a dream to one day have a job in the gaming industry?
Do what ever you want to – you can do it! Be prepared, the gaming industry might not make you rich with money, but with experience and joy.
If you both could be a character in a game, which one would it be and why?
I think I would really enjoy being Kirby. He can eat everything and still is light-weighted enough to fly around.
I’d probably go for Sheik as that would give me the opportunity to further explore the wonderful world of Hyrule as well as talk to many of the characters of the Zelda franchise. And it’d be nice to be any good with an instrument for a change 😃