In an industry where only 22 per cent of professionals are women digital game design student Grace Tett is breaking the mould.
Despite 48 per cent of videogame players being women this has not translated into careers for them in the sector. However, a new course at the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College hopes to open doors for more females.
Grace Tett, aged 17, from Werrington, enjoyed gaming from a young age so the BTEC course in Digital Game Design and Development was a natural choice, but admits it was considered unusual among her peers.
She said: “I don’t think my parents were surprised because they know I’ve always been into computers, but my high school friends gave me some funny looks.
“One of my main worries was that I’d be in an environment with a lot of guys and feel awkward.
“I’m not the most confident person, but learning at the Sixth Form College is much better than high school. It’s a nice environment where you have more freedom, and although the work is tougher the tutors are really nice and the facilities are great as we have Macs and graphic tablets to work on.
“I really enjoy the design side of the course and we’ve just started animation and are working on projects to create a space shooter game and a platform game like Mario.
“After college I want to go to Staffordshire University as they’ve got a good game design degree there.
“Now I’m a course rep I hope that’ll help more girls sign up, as I helped out at the last college open evening and around 75 per cent of the students asking about this course were girls so next year there should be more of a mix.
“All I’d say to other girls is to follow your interests and not to be scared of signing up to courses like this. If you really enjoy it you should come and do it as I did and I really enjoy it – it’s my favourite course.”
The BTEC Diploma course is the equivalent of two A-Level subjects, and Kim Crossley, course leader for media at the Sixth Form College, said while the current 30 course students were predominantly male, the female students were just as strong tackling development and programming as well as design.
She said: “This sector offers so many career opportunities for men and women in programming, design, animation, production, art, audio, editing and testing.
“So far the figures are looking good, as most of our students want to go on to study this subject at university as more want to go into these careers.
“One of our former students helped develop the iconic adventure war game Halo, which was a huge success, so we’re hoping she will come in and inspire our students.
“But there’s a lot going on in this industry in Stoke-on-Trent, so it’s essential we keep this talent here and continue to create jobs in this sector.
Anyone interested in studying at the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College can come to their Open Event on March 29th 2017, or for more information log on to www.stokesfc.ac.uk or call 01782 848736.