Game Developers of Tomorrow, Meet Katie Simning from GLITCH

Katie Simning is the director of operations at GLITCH, a local organization aimed at helping the gaming community. Katie was willing to take time to work with me on learning a little more about herself and how things work at GLITCH.

Katie Simning

Courtesy Katie Simning

Philip Coler (TCG): For those who don’t know, what is GLITCH all about?

Katie Simning: To use our fancy official words, GLITCH is a nonprofit that promotes the exploration of digital games as a culture, career, and creative practice. We work to educate, inspire, and equip emerging talent with the tools for success in the digital game and simulation fields.

What that really boils down to is that we love games and want to help people make them. We do that through a mix of programs that help aspiring creators grow, share their projects with the community, find new opportunities, and connect with other people interested in games. And we make sure there’s a healthy dose of fun because games are, after all, a culture of play.

TCG: How did you get involved with GLITCH?

Katie: Good question! I kind of came into it in a roundabout way. I was friends with Evva Kraikul, GLITCH’s co-founder and executive director, back in high school. When GLITCH was first starting up, she asked if I would help make flyers for events. At the time I was attending school at the University of Wisconsin—River Falls. I had just learned the basics of the Adobe Creative Suite and took her up on the request as a way to improve those skills. While I was only able to attend one event (a super fun Pokémon-themed party) during J-term, I did get to hear about what they were doing.

After I graduated, I attended a few events and volunteered at them when GLITCH was short on staff. About a year after I was done with school, there was a volunteer marketing role available. I submitted my résumé, went through the interview process, and was brought onto staff. I’ve been with GLITCH since and am now the director of operations.

GC16 Silhouette Katie Simning

GlitchCon 2015. Courtesy Katie Simning

TCG: How would a member of the Twin Cities geek community get involved with GLITCH?

Katie: There are a lot of ways for people with different interests to get involved, but perhaps the easiest way is coming out to events. Our Friday-night PLAY/TEST event invites game creators to demo their latest builds and players to try out local titles. It’s an easy, low-pressure way for everyone to meet up and have fun together.

Two of our flagship events will be happening between now and May. GameCraft is our locally hosted site for January’s Global Game Jam and challenges participants of all levels, from “I’ve never made a game before” to “I’ve lost count of how many games I’ve made,” to create a game in 48 hours. GlitchCon is our annual games conference that features hands-on workshops, industry speakers, and a lot of unique sessions. While 2016 info hasn’t been released yet, some of our favorite sessions from last year are showcased on the website right now that give a pretty good idea of what types of activities to expect.

For aspiring game creators, we also have three main programs: Immersion, Incubator, and Residency. Immersion is an introductory exploration of the games-industry pipeline that includes workshops and site visits to local companies. Incubator challenges those with a bit more experience to take risks on real-world game projects. Residency supports local game creators and freelancers with access to a work space and resources.

Those are just a few of the ways to get involved, but we have more specialized opportunities on our website as well as open hours for the public to play or utilize our resources Monday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

TCG: What sorts of games do you enjoy playing? Video games, board games, et cetera?

Katie: Oh boy, that’s a tricky one! I enjoy way more than I could ever condense into this response. I tend towards platform, action RPG, puzzle, word, and simulation games across both digital and tabletop formats but definitely am not exclusive to those. Kingdom Hearts, Psychonauts, Galaga, The Typing of the Dead, Sudoku, and Catch Phrase are some of my all-time favorites. A few that I’ve been enjoying recently are FTL: Faster Than Light, Chariot, 7 Little Words, and a silly-fun card game called Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards.

Outside of digital and tabletop titles, bar trivia is by far my favorite. I may not always have the answers, but I love trying to figure it out with friends over some appetizers and drinks. I also played soccer for 15 years, which has instilled a very deep love of kicking things into pretty much anything that I can designate a goal zone, like boxes through doorways.

TCG: When you aren’t doing GLITCH-related things, what do you do with your spare time?

Katie: Concerts have a pretty high priority for my free time. The Twin Cities has an awesome music scene that boasts homegrown artists and attracts performers from around the world. First Avenue was one of the first public places I felt comfortable to be in without friends or really knowing anyone around me. We’re all there for this very specific music and tend to lose our friends in the crowds anyway, which makes everything less awkward.

Otherwise, in general, I’m a big media consumer, so I also love to spend my time watching movies and TV shows, as well as reading and building music playlists. You can find my reviews of young adult books and the occasional playlist up on Me, My Shelf, and I, where I’ve been a contributor since 2012.

Katie Simning as Ice King

Katie as Ice King. Courtesy Katie Simning

TCG: If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?

Katie: Telepathy, definitely.

TCG: What would you use it for?

Katie: Some days I just really want to think at people, rather than use my words. Especially when I know I’ll lose some of the details or magic behind them through speech or my lack of drawing skills. Or I happen to have the unavoidable dead-of-winter sore throat.

Katie at a local games exhibit

Katie at a local games exhibit. Courtesy Katie Simning

TCG: Do you have any advice for aspiring game developers?

Katie: Start making games. There are a lot of free programs, engines, and other resources available online or through us, as well as video tutorials and guides to help get you started.

Finish your games, even if they’re bad. Remember, everyone makes bad games when they start; don’t let that stop you from finishing a project. The more projects you complete, the more you and your games will improve.

Be active in the community. Everyone’s really nice and helpful. If you have a question, people are pretty willing to answer, or at least point you in a direction if they don’t know it themselves. It’s also a great way to make friends and learn about new opportunities.

The same goes for anyone who wants to work within games but not program them. There are many career paths in games where you don’t need to code, like writers, musicians, lawyers, marketers, artists, producers, accountants, community managers, and more.

Learn more about GLITCH at glitch.mn.

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