Hi, could you introduce yourself?

I'm a creative technologist who enjoys using code to make apps, games, and art.

female game dev Nadya Primak

How did you get into your current field?

When I was 4 my family moved from Siberia to give me a new life in the United States and as immigrants, they were always encouraging me to pursue a lucrative career. However growing up I wanted to be an artist or a writer so it took some time for me to change my path. I did enjoy playing video games as a kid so I thought it would be cool to see if I could learn a bit about programming in college and make my own game. I did well in the first couple of classes and took the entry class into the major, but it took up so much time and students in later classes told me that it would get even harder so I became intimidated and decided not to major in computer science. However after college I decided to teach myself Javascript and make some projects on my own. Then I moved to Saint Louis, Missouri with my husband where an organization called LaunchCode helped me to land my first programming job at a startup.

What are your goals?

My goals are always shifting but one that has stayed relatively consistent is my goal to get experience working in the game industry. While I've worked on projects solo, it would be great to work on a team on a larger project.

Nadya's book Foot in the door

You’ve completed a lot of different projects. Which one are you most proud of?

Maybe it is because of nostalgia and the fact that it was my first big project, but my online version of the board game Hnefatafl is probably still my favorite. The website also receives more traffic than I would have ever expected, as many as 30,000 visits per month. It feels good when people use something I made. I'm proud of myself for taking the leap of faith and building something that I initially didn't believe I could build.

What tips do you have for people getting into game development?

Resist the temptation to make everything from scratch. There is no reason to build your own game engine unless that is something you are super passionate about. There are a lot of different engines to build games with. Find one that feels intuitive to you and focus on getting comfortable with that engine. If you spend too much time switching between engines and starting over you will get frustrated. Also don't compare yourself to other game developers. There are tons and tons of indie devs of twitter and many of them have incredible talent. It's easy to get discouraged if you focus on others instead of your own progress.

Do you have a mentor or role model?

I'm lucky to have had many friendly coworkers who helped me in my career. Depending on your definition of a mentor, I would say that they all played that role to some extent. It's hard to pick one role model out of the many incredibly talented and inspiring tech ladies out there, but a few that come to mind are Nathalie Lawhead, who makes really compelling and intense interactive art. There is also Olivia Jack, the creator of hydra which is an incredible piece of live coding visual software that I love to work with.

Do you mentor anybody?

There is a junior developer at my company who I have been mentoring. I also try to share my knowledge with the tech community at large through my writing. I publish blog posts on my website and have also written a book about my journey getting my first job as a software developer called Foot in the Door.

What could the tech industry do better to foster female talent?

There are so many ways that the tech industry excludes women. From using terms like rockstar and ninja in their job descriptions, to posting ludicrously long requirements that cause women not to apply, to judging candidates based on their confidence rather than their skill. Also giving long take home tests that single mothers are highly unlikely to have time to complete. The tech industry could do a lot better, and they need to step it up.

Who do you follow?

I follow a lot of women in tech who work in the DC area, since that is where I'm located. Veni Kunche, who runs the DiversifyTech initiative as well as a newsletter called Code with Veni, is an inspiration.  Lindsey Kopacz, a fellow blogger and web accessibility advocate, is another who I admire. Both are on Twitter which I primarily use to follow what is going on in tech.

What's the best way to keep up with what you are doing?

I tweet pretty regularly, though it is hard sometimes to put all my thoughts into the character limit which is why I also have my blog. If you're on twitter, catch me here: @nadyaprimak. Otherwise my blog is at www.nadyaprimak.com/blog