Girls Can Game Too
Not many college Sophomores can say they have their own video games on the market with Google. Erin Alvarico ‘22, however, is the exception, and she even became a game developer mentor for kids in San Francisco. It all started when she was a senior in high school with an assignment to draft a game of her choice.
The game concept was called Symphony, which is about a young girl whose grandfather is a famous violinist. When he grows ill, the granddaughter, travels around the world to find his lost musical compositions. At the very end, once all the music sheets are discovered, she performs the piece in honor of her grandfather, and they walk hand-in-hand out of the hospital. “My teacher was looking at my concept and said, ‘You should really actually submit this and draft some art to go along with it,’ so I did just that,” Alvarico said.
Her game caught the attention of an initiative called Girls Make Games, which is geared toward girls in middle school through high school programming their own video games. “In the gaming industry today, it is very male dominated,” Alvarico said. “And the goal is to bridge the gap between males and females in this field of work.”
Girls Make Games struck up a partnership with Google, and they would choose any five girls nationwide who applied to the program and make their game. Alvarico was one of the lucky five. She flew to California, where Symphony was put on the Google Play store. Liala Shabir, the founder of Girls Make Games, discussed with Alvarico a fellowship program for the summer of 2019. The company would fly individuals to locations all over the nation, and Alvarico departed for San Francisco.
“I was in charge of teaching girls 13 to 14 years old how to code and create 2D games,” Alvarico said. She explains further how the three-week-long program allows the girls to create a demo of their desired video game and showcase their finished work to their parents and the gaming company sponsoring the program. The program and the girls involved produced 43 games in the U.S. from this initiative alone. Some of the girls she mentored even had the opportunity to showcase their games to Xbox, PlayStation and other video game companies.
Alvarico wants other girls following in her footsteps not be scared about entering a primarily male-dominated industry. “When I was in high school, I did not realize I would be going into a field where I would virtually see no girls,” she said. “At first it did scare me, but I just reminded myself that games are fun and I love them. And if you love to play video games and want to make them, you just keep walking that path and [learn] to not care what anyone says.”
Alvarico’s love for games is now being put into use at Marist College. She is a part of the Game Society, and she is creating a subcommittee on campus. Diamond League, which specializes in virtual reality (VR), set out to make VR an esport, which is played by professional gamers in a league. She succeeded and established the league. “The goal of the club is for people who just want to try out VR or even if people want to play it competitively can come together and appreciate it. The league that I am partnered with can also provide scholarships in tournament bases competitions, as long as a team of players meet the requirements to compete.”
Alvarico’s just one of many girls stepping into a career with a lack of female representation, determined to make her presence known.