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G ‘n’ G Women in Tech Week – Cat Burton, Mind Candy

The Girl Geek and the Monsters

I’m sat pondering the life of a London girl geek, cup of tea in hand and admiring a lovely view of the Thames.  It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago I was living in rural Lincolnshire, with big dreams of working in the games industry. 

Cat Burton www.mindcandy.com
Cat Burton www.mindcandy.com

I can’t remember my first gaming experience as I grew up surrounded by games. From a young age, our household was full of glorious gaming gadgetry, from our old Spectrum, to a NES; from Gameboys to Segas. What I can remember, however, are some of the games that ultimately inspired me to break away from the traditional girly stereotypes and follow a path of geekery.  Whether it was Civilization II, Theme Hospital, Mario Bros or Monkey Island, one thing was for certain – I knew I wanted to work in the games industry.

When I left sixth form at 18, I moved away to attend Nottingham Trent University where I studied a BSc in Computer Science. In my first two years on the course, I got a good overview into many different subject areas, developing a real passion for games development and artificial intelligence.  The end of that second year brought with it my placement year and my first experience of life in London.  For just over a year, I worked as a developer at (what was) Lehman Brothers.  Whilst this didn’t give me the games dev experience I craved, it gave me a wonderful insight into global corporations and how business works.  All in all, a year well spent.

Upon returning to university for my final year, I was determined to do more work in the fields of AI and games dev. That year, I worked on many wonderful projects, from creating a 3D asteroids game for the PS2, to developing an artificial neural network capable of predicting foreign exchange rates. Here’s where I should say thank you to my tutor, Dr Jonathan Tepper, for sharing his valuable experience and helping make the project a success.

Mind Candy

And so, in summer 2007, I graduated and moved my life back to the big city, accepting a role back at Lehman Brothers.  After about a year, the games dev craving became too strong and I began looking around for a new role.  I didn’t just want a games dev job though; I wanted to work on a game of which I was a fan; one which I could see grow and feel proud to be a part of.  After a long search, it eventually became clear that there was one game I really wanted to be part of.  And so, in October 2008, I began working at Mind Candy.

At Mind Candy, I work as a developer (predominantly working with Actionscript) on the wonderful Moshi Monsters. Moshi Monsters is a world of adoptable pet monsters, an exciting cross between a virtual pet, social network and educational puzzle games site for kids.  The game allows users to adopt their own pet monster, and play games online with the 2.4 million of other players across the world.

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Click to adopt your monster now!
Click to adopt your monster now!

 

One of the most rewarding aspects of working on Moshi Monsters is the feedback from the players. There’s no better feeling than releasing a big new element of the game, and seeing the positive reactions from the users.  Their wonderful comments make the hard work worthwhile, and confirm that the games industry is definitely the right one for me.

Cat’s personal blog can be found at www.catburton.co.uk. You can also follow her on Twitter!

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