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Orchidee Stachelig is editor of Gamesauce, an on-line portal for the game industry with focus on the video game industry and a content manager at Casual Connect, working with independent game developers.

She was previously a foreign affairs journalist with ICTV, based in the Ukraine. She has been a journalist since 2007, and has been covering technology since 2009.

Stachelig is currently a developer and community manager at Hashbang Games, an Indie development team that creates new and innovative games for Consoles, PC and mobile platforms.

How did you get started in virtual reality?

Orchidee Stachelig: It all actually started from my participation in a Japanese fashion show at Otobe Kiev, Ukraine but it was a stranger I met online on Facebook after he posted photos from the convention, who later became my friend and introduced me to game development. I was not really interested in games development before and I was actively hunting for official employment as a reporter, while running up to five freelance projects at a time to keep myself afloat and finance my hobbies but he encouraged me and introduced me to his friends attending Casual Connect in Kyiv.

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(Image courtesy Orchidee Stachelig.)

What do you think of the low number of women in the game development industry?

Stachelig: I think it is changing. One of the first people I met in the game development industry is a woman and at Hashbang Games we are doing our best to get more women developers in the industry. Our chief marketing officer at Hashbang Games, Lisa Weeks, is one of the key people in the informal initiative to get more girls into game development. Also, our managing director at Casual Connect, Jessica Tams, is more than supportive about getting women into the games business.

When I was choosing what to study, I knew it was going to be journalism just because I thought I could not do anything else. I grew up with the understanding that programming is deathly boring and I used to think I’m not smart enough for it until recently when my friends encouraged me to give it a try.

The first misconception here in Ukraine is that all the technical stuff is for boys and not girly enough, that girls are better at other stuff. That was the belief among school kids. The other thing that seems to be going on now is that a lot of guys are probably scared of women — from what I see a lot of guys who are probably not sure of themselves are scared of women who are interested in technical stuff. I guess it’s a ghost of those traditionalist beliefs about gender roles and not wishing to accept that women are as capable of doing tech jobs as men. And a successful woman is an offense to their dignity. But I’m happy to see the changes in this perception — or maybe I’m just lucky with my friends.

Can you tell us about your work at Gamesauce?

Stachelig: We have several editors and we are supportive of one another, we do our best to post at least one article a day, and are in a friendly challenge situation with the goal of not to skip a day, when at least one of us has something to post. At Gamesauce, I take care of everything indies-related. And now, having become an indie developer myself, it is my professional and personal goal as an editor to support indies, both beginners like myself, and the experienced ones we look up to and learn from. Being an editor and a developer, I can see articles from an editor angle, whether it is a good read or not — and from the developer perspective, whether it is useful or not. I read a lot of other websites at work too.

You also work at Hashbang Games?

Stachelig: Yes. Hashbang Games is an indie development team that creates their own games, as well as helps other teams complete their projects and get them out there to the players. I am currently a developer and community manager there. I’m also learning to code to eventually get into more aspects of game development, and my teammates — both guys and girls! — are more than helpful, even when I ask the dumbest questions ever.

What advice do you have for women interested in game development?

Stachelig: First of all, do not be scared to give new stuff a try. Secondly, you will eventually get where you want if you have genuine interest in what you are trying and others are doing. The third thing is do a lot of networking. All the contacts that I have who help me go further, I got through networking and 90 percent of my friends are from the industry.

Can you tell me what you are currently working on?

Stachelig: At Hashbang Games, we are working on two projects together with other teams, FlipSwitch Games and Inspiral Gaming. The first one is EmergeNYC, a simulation of New York City emergency services. It’s already available on Steam, as is the Fire Academy update, which is a training environment with accurate recreations of some of the buildings that the New York Fire Department uses for drills and training.The other project with Inspiral Gaming is called Dimension Door, and is a session-based sci-fi horror game set in a haunted mansion full of deadly magic and evil creatures, and even the rooms are shifting. As one of the guests of that place, your goal is to escape and survive no matter what. It’s up to you whether to play nice and cooperate, or be a backstabbing a**hole. And when you die, you can respawn as a servant, a ghost from the mansion, and slaughter the guests. This game is in currently in development, and the gameplay and mechanics are undergoing some adjustments.