For our Gamer Girl exhibit, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina Antoinette Neofotistou, a.k.a. @castpixel.
Christina is a pixel-artist and game developer who loves pixelart and animation. She develops games for Ludum Dare and has been a hardcore gamer since 1984. You can support Christina‚Äôs work on Patreon.
So, let‚Äôs start with the basics.¬† How did gaming become a part of your life?
My parents had a Commodore 128 when I was 6 and I was allowed to play (and draw sprites, on the dedicated SPRDEF editor). Before that, I was fascinated with coin op games at the local arcade. I was an eighties nerdy girl, before gaming began being marketed to just boys.
Did you face any challenges, like bullying or sexism, in gaming?
Not really, apart from being invisible to some male gamers and/or told to my face that I’m a fake geek girl. Geek cred is like 2d6 lower for female geeks. I did get a lot of harassment and even abuse for being a feminist gamer/game developer though, since Gamergate mobilized a large section of misogynistic gamers under its banner. All my gamer friends, of any gender, are super-cool though.
When did you figure out that you wanted to be a game developer and artist?
When I was 6. I dreamt up whole worlds revolving around flying mechs or slimy platforms, spells and caves. When I was 14, I made some (long gone and best forgotten) games with a game making software called Klik and Play. I had no formal art training. In fact, I trained to be a doctor for 6 years, but then I figured out that what I really wanted to do is make games.
What really helped you start your career?
My career is mostly illustration. I don’t know if I have a game development career, apart from my LD [Ludum Dare] games. So I guess LD really helped me get into making games on my own.
What games have you worked on so far?¬† Any favorites?
Panda Poet for Spryfox, a few iOS titles, an online MMO for kids called Pandalife (in Greek), a few jam games of my own. I did some sprites for Deer God. My favorite so far is Ice Story because it’s my first game that’s kind of fun.
I noticed that you also participate in game jams.¬† What are those like, and how did you start participating in them?¬† What‚Äôs your favorite part of the jam?
Game jams are fantastic. It’s like treating myself to 3 days or a week of just thinking about gameplay, game design, and pretty sprites. A friend told me about Ludum Dare back in 2012. Together we made Kumiho, a fun bullet-hell shmup.
What would you say is the best experience that gaming has brought to your life so far?
I don’t know. Fallout 1 and 2 were pretty awesome. Also Captain Blood. Ultima Underworld I spent months on. All my childhood is linked to games. I suspect trying to make my own games is the best experience so far.
What do you hope to do in the future?
More of this! Finish a mid-sized game and make sure it’s a fun experience for somebody out there. Then move on to more grandiose stuff.
What advice do you have for girls who want to have careers in gaming?
I don’t know, I still ask other female gamers and gamedevs for advice. Don’t burn out, self-organize in communities and enjoy the ride is common advice that floats around women in IT circles.
And I also noticed that you run Pixels Weekly (@pixelsweekly), a weekly contest on Twitter for pixel art.¬† What inspired you to start the contest?¬† For girls who want to start participating in that, what advice do you have and how can they get involved?
See, pixelart is a little misunderstood. It’s not just a way to churn out small things fast. It can be a craft. And it takes patience and some knowledge. The excellent Pixel Dailies is taking care of keeping people dabbling in pixelart. With pixelsweekly, I hope to inspire other pixel artists to go a little more in-depth. The themes so far have been limiting in size, colors and scope. My own fascination is with super tiny pixelart, I find it can have a lot of charm. Girls and women who want to participate don’t need anything, they can just come. I try to keep the space female friendly, non-racist, non-discriminating. I’d welcome some help with moderation!
Anything else you‚Äôd like to tell our readers?
Embrace critique on games, it’s going to make future games more awesome.
You can view more of Christina‚Äôs work on her PixelJoint.com site.
Girl Museum Inc.