Introducing Joy Ajayi, a gameplay programmer from Lagos, Nigeria. Joy is not just dedicated to a career in the realm of game development, but she is also the first Women in Games WIGJ Ambassador from Nigeria and Africa. Joy is looking forward to growing the community of Women in Games in Nigeria and around Africa. Joy was one of the active women behind the recent Africacomicade Gamathon as well. Get to know her and her thoughts on what we can do to achieve more gender balance in the industry.
Tell us a bit about yourself Joy
My name is Joy Ajayi and I’m an aspiring gameplay programmer. I like to think I have successfully become one as I always introduce myself as one. I live in Lagos, Nigeria. If I am not coding or reading articles related to gaming, you would find me listening to music, sleeping, or reading novels.
What kind of games do you enjoy playing?
I generally do not play games a lot (I know, shocking) but when you do catch me playing a game, I would be playing Candy Crush, Solitaire, or The Sims 4. I enjoy watching other people play games as well.
What got you started in your game development journey?
I loved playing games when I was a child, from Minesweeper to Need for Speed. My brothers and I even played the games that Cartoon Network made for its shows on its site like Chop Socky Chooks, Secret Saturdays, etc. As I got older and developed a love for technology, I decided that I wanted to go into game development. Going for a summer camp in my Year 11 solidified the idea in my mind and that is how I got started.
Of the game projects you’ve worked on, which one has been your favourite and why?
Wow! I think my favorite will be Eji. Eji is a puzzle game I made for a jam that had the theme, “Two”. The game is quite simple, keep track of how many times “two” appears on the screen. Eji means two in my language, Yoruba. It is my favorite because it was the first time I was able to write the code for a game from scratch with little to no help. It was also the moment I knew I understood this game development thing. I feel so proud of that project that I taught in a class for game development.
How did you become a Women in Games Ambassador?
It’s a funny story and many times I keep saying that I can’t believe it actually happened. I discovered Women In Games WIGJ when I was searching for jobs in the UK for my placement year in school. I joined the LinkedIn group and came across the application form. I left it open for days on my browser just looking forward to the day I felt I would qualify. One of those days, I decided to apply because I just wanted the opportunity to meet other women in Nigeria involved in the gaming industry. Some weeks later, I received a congratulatory mail and I found myself as the first Women in Games WIGJ from Nigeria and Africa.
What are you looking forward to achieving in the next few years as a game developer and a Women in Games Ambassador?
I look forward to becoming a AAA gameplay programmer with at least one major title under my belt. With the WIGJ ambassadorship, I hope I would have successfully built a community of women with diverse skills in the industry in Nigeria, connected with ambassadors and women in other countries to regularly encourage women around us to see the future of gaming in Africa and debunk the idea of it being a mans’ world.
Do you have specific ideas on making the games industry a better place for women?
Targeted conditioning. We need to start from the basics, the family. We need parents to let their sons know that girls can play games as well as giving the girls a chance to reject playing games and not force them to. With this, we can at least be sure that the upcoming generation is taught the right ideas. For the industry, we need there to be equal amounts of men and women being employed and put on teams, we need women to be allowed to head teams and its members have respect for their judgments. I believe if we start small and from our individual circles, we can easily change and create a new narrative that makes the industry a better place for women.
What would you like to see more of in the game development industry in Africa and globally?
Collaboration, African stories, and more women!!!
Is there anything else you would like to tell us? A fun fact about yourself?
I love sampling tea from around the world.
You can play Eji by Joy here: https://joyajayi.itch.io/eji