Award-winning game designer, author and gamer, Sheri Graner Ray spoke Nov. 26 in the Student Union Theater to over 100 gamers, future game designers and the interested general public. Ray is author of Gender Inclusive Game Design – Expanding the Game Market and co-founder of Women in Games International (WIGI).
“She is a recognized game designer, one of the few women to be in the gaming industry and succeed,” said Andres Tafich, an 18-year-old senior at PSJA High School.
As part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) lecture series, Ray agreed to come down from Austin to come and speak about field of game design.
“We orchestrate what the gamer does,” 51-year-old Ray said. “Explaining what I do is a challenge. What I tell people is that I’m the director and the choreographer.”
Ray is mostly well known for her work on the Ultima PC series, Star Wars: Galaxies and the Nancy Drew games by Her Interactive. She has been listed by Hollywood Reporter in 2004 as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Computer Entertainment, receiving the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Game Developers Choice award in 2005 and was listed on Next Gen’s 100 Most Influential Women in Computer games in 2006.
Originally from McAllen, Texas she graduated top ten in her class and attended the University for two years before moving to St. Edwards University in Austin and graduating. She is now the Studio Design Director for Schell Games.
“I was originally brought in as a writer for games when I first started,” she said. “I’m not a programmer, but I can write some script…I can run proprietary language tools and I understand how it works.”
The closest major that the University has to game design is computer science, giving people in the Valley a lesser opportunity to learn the ways of game design.
“It’s hard for someone in the Valley (to become a game designer) and I hope this opens an opportunity for the University to have a game design major,” he said.
In her lecture and book, Ray mentions the importance of diversity in the gaming industry. She points out over 80 percent of those involved in the industry are white males. There is not enough diversity in the gaming industry, she says, and attributes the success of most best selling games to having a diverse team of men, women and people from other ethnicities.
“I was told that girls don’t play games and I have heard it over and over,” Ray said. “It’s a fast growing industry and we are going to see games more involved in your daily life. I hope to raise awareness to women and minorities; the industry wants them.”