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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Carhuavilca

About me!

Hi everyone!

I just realized I never added an "about me" section, so here it goes!

My name is Andrea, and I've been a game designer/developer since 2017. My journey into game development began when I achieved 4th place in an animation competition at FIEA, a game design school in Orlando, Florida. At that time, I was working as a music teacher at a local middle school, but truth be told, I wasn't enjoying it at all.

I initially pursued a degree in Music Performance at the University of South Florida because I was passionate about playing the music featured in video game soundtracks (the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary CD solidified this for me, haha). However, I soon discovered that the classical music world wasn't the right fit for me. I realized too late that securing those special gigs wasn't the primary source of income for most classical musicians. I didn't possess the talent to become a full-time performer, and I wasn't cut out for the lifestyle that many classical musicians lead.

To make ends meet, I turned to teaching at a middle school. While I cherished many of my students, being a teacher in the United States is incredibly challenging. Schools are severely underfunded, and teachers often end up bearing the financial burden for classroom resources and teaching materials. The lack of support in the system was disheartening.

Somehow, I stumbled upon that animation competition, even though I knew next to nothing about animation. Despite my lack of experience, I managed to secure 4th place. The university even offered me a spot in the next academic year, but unfortunately, I couldn't afford it. While I was disappointed to miss out on the opportunity, it sparked an idea that would change my life forever: "What if I just teach myself?"

And that's exactly what I did. That idea propelled me into the world of game development, and here I am today!

Say hi to the other designers in my household! Booster, the black cat, is the Game Director. Naru, the gray cat, is the Game Designer, and Muffin, the Sound Designer, makes the oddest meows.

I held various jobs to support myself while I taught myself Unreal Engine. I distinctly remember struggling with Blueprints and encountering technical issues with the Engine, which left me feeling incredibly frustrated. At that time, there were significantly fewer tutorials and resources available compared to now. Additionally, I didn't have any connections in the industry, and none of my friends had the knowledge to share.

I can't stress enough the importance of reaching out and learning from other developers. I often felt stuck, as if I had hit a ceiling. Despite my efforts, I was still earning very little money and accumulating debt. The idea of returning to school for game development seemed like a far-fetched dream.

However, somehow, I managed to get my loans in order and receive financial aid to go back to graduate school. It was a challenging journey, but I persevered.

I got my graduate degree from Lindenwood University. This school and my professor ultimately changed the course of my life. They were incredibly supportive and taught me so much. I was exposed to Unity and made so much progress. It was like all the things I didn't know finally clicked and made sense. I made a mobile game that even got published on the Apple App Store! I really pushed myself and it was because I had a great facility that believed in me. And yes, this all happened during the pandemic, and while my grandma passed away too (not from Covid but still). I look back and wonder how I did it but I like to imagine my grandma helped me all the way and still does. After graduating, I landed my first job at Treehouse Games and spent over two and a half years there until, unfortunately, I was laid off. It's disheartening to witness the state of our industry. Layoffs have been relentless since 2023, and there's no sign of them slowing down anytime soon.

Frankly, I'm tired of CEOs blaming the pandemic for these layoffs. While it may be true for some studios, it's not a valid excuse for huge companies that rake in billions in profit. I'm glad that their greed is becoming increasingly apparent, and both game developers and the public are becoming more aware and resistant to this capitalist greed.

As creatives, we have the resilience and determination to overcome challenges. I'm confident that soon I'll be back at a studio, doing what I've always aspired to do - change the world through games! I firmly believe that games have a powerful impact and can alter the trajectory of someone's life, just as they did for me and many of my talented friends. Thank you for following my journey. I'll continue to share and work towards making the world a better place through my passion for gaming :)

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