Girls Press Start On Video Game Design Careers

By Aaron Aupperlee
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Three teen girls from the Pittsburgh area are wading into video game design, an industry often dominated by men. The girls formed EDGE, an acronym for Explore, Design, Grow and Empower, which acts like the girls’ startup company for game development. The teens study game design theory and develop board and video games.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Kaylee Nicotero easily completed the first level of a video game she played on her laptop.

And she should — the ninth-grader at Holy Family Academy in Emsworth helped design it.

Kaylee and three classmates, Mah’Kya McCowan, Amber Hogan and Emilie Nagel, spent the school year wading into video game design, an industry often dominated by men and hostile to women — a fact not lost on the four.

“We wanted to show that in video games, females can do what males can do,” Kaylee said.

The girls — Kaylee, 15, and Emilie, 15, both of McKees Rocks; and Mah’Kya, 15, and Amber, 14, both of the North Side — meet once a week. They formed EDGE, an acronym for Explore, Design, Grow and Empower, which acts like the girls’ startup company for game development.

The teenagers studied game design theory, developed board and video games and worked through the ups and downs, conflicts and collaborations that startups go through. Their classmates work in companies and nonprofits throughout the city as part of the school’s work study program.

The girls on Tuesday will host for their classmates the Video Game High School Festival, an open house to showcase their games and work throughout the year.

“We have started from almost scratch to where we are now, and it was a lot of work,” Emilie said.

Drew Davidson, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, said high school is not too early to start teaching the fundamentals of game design. He has worked with girls at Holy Family Academy, and his students work with several schools across Western Pennsylvania.

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