Latinx Leaders in Gaming: Educators & Community Managers
Video games have the unique power to unite people of all backgrounds in an immersive experience that can be enjoyed universally. With the rise of esports in all levels of education, from the PlayVS high school league to the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), players have growing opportunities to hone their skills and develop lasting bonds in an interactive and social community. Organized esports accompany better grades and rekindled aspirations, helping students develop valuable leadership and communication skills.
Outside the classroom, gaming communities can further cultivate an environment of teamwork, positive communication, and constant learning for its members. This week’s featured Latinx leaders inspire and build inclusivity in gaming through their work with educational institutions, online gaming communities, and special interest groups.
Gracie Arenas Strittmatter started playing video games in 1992 when her parents brought home a Super Nintendo. She enjoyed playing Super Mario World with her brother growing up, but she never imagined video games would become the driving force for her career. Today, Strittmatter is the Technical Art Director at BioWare, a division of Electronic Arts (EA) that creates role-playing and story-based sci-fi games. Strittmatter considers herself a professional problem solver. With her art and programming background, she helps design tools and troubleshoot issues with the artist’s best interests at heart.
An accomplished professional with over 10 years of game development experience, Strittmatter strives to support future developers at the College of Architecture’s visualization program at Texas A&M, where she and her husband, Willem, created an endowed scholarship for aspiring professionals in the growing gaming industry.
“Those of us who are already in tech need to be committed to setting an example that people can look up to,” Strittmatter reflected on the experience. “We can cultivate a network that will [ensure] greater success of Hispanics and Latinos in tech in the future, for generations to come.”
Sylvia Cristina Amaya, an up-and-coming leader in the gaming industry, has worked at companies including Riot Games, Twitch, Discord, and Unity Technologies. Previously, she was the community manager for League of Legends and Pokemon Go. Amaya has built communities like these from the ground up, consistently interfacing with people from all walks of life.
As a gamer growing up, she sought out Latinx women on stage at conferences, panels and speaking on behalf of gaming. As a recent addition to the IGDA board, Amaya is advancing her dreams of expanding game makers’ reach in developing nations. She is also a co-founder of the IGDA Latinx in Games special interest group dedicated to increasing Latinx representation across the industry. Amaya aims to be an inspiration for more people of color and women in gaming to foster more diversity in the industry.