Chosen from a global pool of applicants, DigiPen BA in Game Design student Tetra Chaney was selected to become a mentee in the Women in Games International (WIGI) Mentorship Program. Started by WIGI, a non-profit devoted to championing “a safe, inclusive, and diverse workforce in the video game, tabletop, and esports industries,” the WIGI Mentorship Program pairs the next generation of women, nonbinary, and femme-identifying game professionals with industry veterans for two weeks of free mentorship on career growth, self-advocacy, and more.
Chaney discovered the program through a DigiPen campus club that shares much of WIGI’s mission as well, the W+iTCH Club. Short for Women+ in Technology Connection Hub, the club was founded to connect women-identifying students on campus interested in pursuing careers in tech. An active participant in W+iTCH’s meetups, Chaney found out about the WIGI Mentorship Program after faculty club mentor, Angie Forster, posted about applications opening on the club’s Discord.
“I wasn’t really expecting to receive an invitation to the program and was filling it out as more of a fever dream,” says Chaney, who was “really surprised” to find out she’d been chosen shortly thereafter. “The first thing I did was send messages to my friends and the W+iTCH Discord!”
Chaney, a lifelong gamer, got especially interested in game design during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic developing maps and models in Unity for VRChat, which became a vital way to meet new friends during lockdown. “I didn’t know it yet, but I was doing a lot of design and art work,” Chaney says.
At DigiPen, Chaney’s interest in the narrative aspect of game design flourished. “I’m a huge narrative nut,” Chaney says. “I’ve been a huge fan of role-playing and world-building in things like Dungeons & Dragons, and [narrative game] The Beginner’s Guide is what made me think about putting those stories into video games.” In 2022, Chaney’s knack for narrative was recognized with a gold medal in the Game Developers Conference’s Student Narrative Analysis Competition, awarded for her in-depth narrative breakdown on the action-RPG, The World Ends With You.
The WIGI Mentorship program paired Chaney with industry mentor Gabby Llanillo, QA supervisor on Riot Games’ VALORANT team, for eight mentorship sessions in December 2023. As a VALORANT fan herself, the prospect of learning from Llanillio was especially exciting for Chaney. “I play a lot of Phoenix and Viper. I love being an entry fragger!” Chaney says. “Gabby is super cool, down to earth, and has the same look at the industry I’d hope to have in my future.” In addition to offering plenty of sage advice, Llanillo also guided Chaney on sprucing up her portfolio and website. “I want them to get ‘Wows,’ and for people to think, ‘Man, how does she not have a job yet?’” Chaney says.
With her 2024 graduation just on the horizon, Chaney says her dream is landing a job working with familiar faces. “I’d be ecstatic to work in the industry with my friends I made here at DigiPen, or the connections that I’ve made through WIGI, the Internship Fair, or even Company Days. But that’s not to say that I’m opposed to meeting new faces and making new friends!”
Chaney’s advice to other young women aspiring to break into the industry? Find great friends like she did. “Work on things you love and are interested in and make friends that support your goals and push you to learn,” Chaney says. “They’re the ones who keep me going and make me continue to create.”