Nicola Disley, programmer at Lucid Games, talks about her start in games, battling with imposter syndrome and finding an extended family in the industry
How did you break into games?
A couple good leaps of faith really. I’ve always loved games but never considered trying to make a career out of them until I was visiting a friend on campus who was studying programming and games development. At the time I was studying analytical science at another university but wasn’t really happy. I sat in on a couple of his lectures and just couldn’t get the idea of it out of my head. I’d never even tried programming, so I just took it on faith that I’d enjoy it and pick it up alright. I left my course and started up at this new one the following year. I was fortunate that in the final year my lecturers had invited someone from the industry as guest speaker and judge for our presentations. I managed to impress him enough that I got my first job programming games and my foot in the industry.
What has been your proudest achievement so far?
Definitely just getting to this point, getting the job in Lucid and moving over here from Dublin. That was a big scary step for me but I recognised that to get to where I wanted to be I needed to surround myself with amazingly skilled people, other programmers as well as role models.
What has been your biggest challenge
That’s a really difficult question. My day-to-day is basically overcoming challenges that feel like the most important thing in the world until they’re solved. In all honesty it would be pushing back against imposter syndrome, it’s still an ongoing challenge! I feel it’s very prevalent in our industry and can be really difficult for some people to overcome, so I try and talk about it quite openly, especially when I see friends or colleagues that are fighting it themselves.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people I get to work with, hands down. I wasn’t prepared for how much of an extended family it would feel like I was getting. For such a big industry so many people seem to know each other! So starting at Lucid where so many people working there had known each other for years, there was this really familiar warm atmosphere straight away. And just getting to be really creative and silly while making something awesome with this brilliant bunch of people is amazing.
What’s your biggest ambition in games?
I really want to be somebody that people could look up to, especially if that encourages more girls to consider a career in games. I’m a shy person, but I really think visibility is important here, so if trying to be a little more out there encourages someone to picture being a games programmer that would be amazing!
What advice would you give to an aspiring Programmer?
OK, it’s hard but try not to feel overwhelmed by everything you don’t know, it’s a massive spectrum of roles and knowledge being a programmer. There’s a reason people take particular pathways, that’s why the job is so exciting and rewarding. It’s like any other skill you just need to keep at it, program little games, or even just little ideas that pop into your head, because you don’t know what that could grow into.