A Girl in Game Design
Storyteller: Daijya (she/her/hers), 18, Missouri
“I got my first introduction into STEM when I was in seventh grade. In seventh grade, I joined robotics just because I thought it'd be fun. My friend convinced me to join robotics because she needed someone to go with her. So I went, and I, after watching….the high school kids compete, I was intrigued at how people could just create such robots and do stuff with them all through just themselves. So I decided, I really want to be involved in making the robot.
In Lego League First Robotics, we don't actually use metal, we use like bricks and stuff, like Legos. And I didn't really want to be a builder. I really wanted to code the robot because coding was always interesting to me as I got into middle school, because I was always around high schoolers at the high school, [and] we talked about coding, [and] I thought it was cool. So I really want to be a coder. I couldn't be a coder, because I was a girl and girls didn't code, that's what the guys said, the guys who ran coding. So I was pushed in the project, and I had to work on a project. I, of course, didn't like it, because I wanted to code and I couldn't code because I was a girl [and] I was trying to understand at the time, but all I knew was that I wanted to be a coder. Then I went into high school and high school was a different league. And I was able to code the robot, not only did I code actually learn how to build things, and code things, and just do so much with it. I also took computer science courses, which I did really well in as well.
So as I got older, I had to figure out what I wanted to do with coding. But what exactly did I want to do? So I, still I am, I'm really, I'm really big into video games. I always grew up watching my dad play video games, and just my parents being around video games. And after doing research, I found out that coding wasn't about video games, because at first I thought it was just art. And I was like, I'm not an artist. I'm a coder. So I decided to go on to the game design pathway. My family of course, didn't really like it, because they thought I couldn't make a career out of it. And they were just worried I wouldn't be able to do it. And me being me, I was like, I will show you that I can do this. And so I took coding classes and everything.
And here I am. I am a freshman in college studying game design and development in New York. And it was a hard path to get here. Yeah, it wasn't really the classes, it was scholarship-wise. Game design is a tough subject when it comes to STEM because game design has both art and computers. Like, I'm learning how to do art as well as code things. So whenever I try to do scholarships, or try to get recognized, I can't in the STEM field because too many [think] game design isn't a STEM tactic. But I believe it is just because it’s coding and everything. So I really had a hard time finding things to represent me since I wasn't art-y enough for the art kids. But I also wasn't like quote like I was a more science you know for the code. So there's opportunities out there. I know I just have to look more into it, but it would be nice if there was more because I am a person of color, a feminine girl. I am a woman of color going into a field that many aren't welcomed in or even acknowledged in. So having that type of representation shown and having a way to express yourself and get known out there will help me in long run.”