This interview is part of a collection of interviews that explore women’s experiences in the gaming industry.
Niki is a 3D artist working for The Gang Sweden in Stockholm, making games specifically for Roblox. Niki has studied game art at university, and she has 18 months of professional experience in the gaming industry. Daria interviews her about her professional journey.
Could you tell me about your role and what you do?
I am a 3D artist and a generalist, and I do everything from modelling, texturing and setting up models to making scenes. Working for a small company that does multiple simultaneous projects, I am currently the only artist on the project I’m on, so I do everything! I am very new to this job (only two months in), but I am glad I can make my own decisions.
Why did you decide to study game art at university?
I always liked playing games; I played The Sims, Halo, and Call of Duty growing up!
it sounded very fun and creative- in a collaborative way
But it was very much by coincidence. I studied art when I was a teenager, and I liked it, but I never wanted to be an artist. Free creation isn’t for me, and I didn’t want to go into graphic design. I was a cashier for two years because I didn’t want to study, and I didn’t know what to do. My friend had an open day at university, and then I ran into a guy studying game art. He told me about game art, and it sounded very fun and creative- in a collaborative way. Then, I found a university that didn’t require previous experience.
During university, there was a period for work experience. When my period to search for an internship happened, that was the start of the pandemic and I struggled to find an internship. Luckily I found a company that made graphics for games and TV shows. Then I had to learn new software and new ways of working. I worked there for 1.5 years and changed jobs once we were short on work.
Which systems/software do you use for 3D modelling?
I’ve used a lot of different ones. At school, I learned Maya. Then I started using Cinema 4D. But that software is not used in gaming, so when I moved to a new job, I was asked if I want to use Maya or Blender.
I consider it problem-solving with artistry
I worked in Maya for 2 years prior, so it was weird going back to it since I had not used it for so long and the company was moving away from the software. At the moment it is Blender, and my studio makes games for Roblox, so we use Roblox’s own game engine.
What would you consider to be the most rewarding part of your job?
I love creating, but with a narrow set of rules. I love figuring stuff out; it is kind of like a puzzle with my job. I also enjoy that I can play the things I do. I like the commercial side too, which many people dislike, but I think it gives me a framework to be creative inside of. Everyone can make a painting, but not everyone can design a logo that needs to work on different prints. I consider it problem-solving with artistry.
What would you consider to be the most challenging part of your job?
it makes you doubt your abilities
The most frustrating part is when nothing works, and you don’t know why. And you can barely find a solution, and you need to give up. Other times, it is the artistic side when you can’t make it look good. That part is mentally a bit hard as you get days where you question your career choices and wonder what you are doing. I remember when I modelled a boat (that was meant to be at the back of the scene), and I felt like it was the worst bit of modelling I made after four years of modelling. It makes you doubt your abilities.
Have you ever experienced misogyny or discrimination while working in the video game industry?
I have been very lucky since I haven’t, but I know many women that have. I always worked in small companies (5-20 people), and everyone was lovely. With my previous company, (where I did marketing and not gaming), there was a lot more women. Every year, the division becomes smaller.
Yet recently, there was a Swedish documentary about the start of the game industry in Sweden, which did not interview a single female developer, even for the part about the future of the industry. So it is still a big problem.
What is your favourite video game?
That is a very hard question! I have favourites in all the different genres. I really like What Remains of Edith Finch. I love that game and its melancholic undertones. I did a university project about the unreliable narrator in the game and how you have to figure the story out yourself.
Featured image courtesy of Daria Paterek. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
In-article video 1 courtesy of @SVT via @youtube.com. No changes were made to this video.
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