Celebrating women @ Vertigo Games
Rotterdam (NL), March 8, 2022 – In light of International Women’s Day 2022, we’re highlighting the women at Vertigo Games today
A word from Vertigo Games’ Director of Publishing:
In light of International Women’s Day, this week we are proud to take the extra time to celebrate and support the many talented women who work at Vertigo Games. Starting on March 8, each day this week we’ve put the spotlight on some of our female co-workers, their talent, ambitions, and achievements in the (VR) gaming industry.
Careers at Vertigo Games are as varied as the gaming industry itself and therefore draw a wide range of talented personalities. From creative thinkers to problem solvers, I have seen tremendous contributions from the women at Vertigo Games. Each one of them has a positive impact on our company and our ongoing commitment to building and maintaining an inclusive work culture. We care about creating connections among the women working here, fostering diversity, and bringing more women into gaming careers, at every stage, and in every discipline.
Take a moment to read up on our diverse group of celebrated women who come from the worlds of animating, game design, marketing, and more. Here are their stories, presented in no particular order.
Director of Publishing
Shanice Lapierre Armande, environment/ props artist at Vertigo Games, is involved in making assets and environment objects for After the Fall, such as the Snowcat to broken -and decayed landscapes and environments. With a fascination for abandoned environments, like Urbex in the real world, creating a decayed world and assets for After the Fall fits right up her alley. “It is so much fun to be able to recreate a decayed world and work on that on a daily basis”.
She rolled into VR through a former classmate, who introduced her to Vertigo Games. “I had some experience creating a VR game/ level through my graduation project and a Game Jam, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to put it all into practice”.
Watching everything come together in the end is her biggest motivation, although her love for horror certainly helps with that as well. “I use horror games and movies as inspiration for some of my work in creating abandoned environments. There are some Youtube channels that I follow that do urban exploring of abandoned buildings, and they are very useful for inspiration”. This, and her accomplishments at work for creating awesome props and environments for After the Fall, are what helped her grow as an artist. And she continues to grow and learn new things. As Shanice puts it “you would think that at some point in a certain field you have learnt everything you can, but there is always so much more to learn. A technique that is faster or more efficient, new software to make the process easier and so on.”
Nadia de Waal, 3D artist at Vertigo Games, models texture objects and critters as well as set dress levels – and sometimes she sneaks into some concept art too. Nadia puts her time and energy into creating things that she knows others will enjoy. “I like painting and drawing things that people enjoy seeing and I like working on games that people will enjoy playing! Especially if creatures are involved because then I can apply my other expertise: animals”.
And seeing the results of her work, knowing that people will be interacting with the models, concepts and textures she creates, is what energizes her. Nadia relies on her vast knowledge of flora and fauna, which also got her an internship at Naturalis, the natural history museum in Leiden. ”I got some paintings featured by them, and I’m really proud of that because I absolutely love dinosaurs and Naturalis is a difficult place to get an internship at”.
Meike Hoeks is a Senior 3D Animator for Vertigo Games who brings life to the characters inside our games. She started off working on kids TV shows, ads and short films. “I kind of accidentally ended up in the casual games industry and from there I ended up in VR games -and I haven’t left since”.
Vertigo attracted her because of its many different types of projects, ranging from serious and educational to cartoony and fun, to action packed adventure and strategy. “The VR adds an extra element of immersion and challenge to the animation work, because you never know where the player is looking! That makes it extra fun for me”.
As a Senior 3D animator for VR games, Meike makes the comparison that she’s essentially playing with dolls for a living! “It’s amazing trying to find a way together with the design team to tell the story of the game and bring the characters to life in a believable way”.
She loves telling stories that evoke some kind of emotion from the audience. “Whether it’s excitement, fear, sadness, love, I love the idea of creating something meaningful that leaves a lasting impression”. Getting inspired by strong narratives herself, she tries to inspire others with her work as well. With her pragmatic attitude, her rebellious side and her honesty, she’s always looking to see how things can be improved. During her career, she has taken a few animation courses to develop herself. One of the highlights was for her teachers to recommend her at ILM and Blizzard.
Angelique van Dijk, lead IT for Vertigo Studios Rotterdam, manages our servers, access and network. She enjoys her job for a number of reasons. “Building and administering PCs and Servers, working for a Game Dev Studio in general, tweaking settings and managing access, setting up machines and of course getting to work with the latest butt-kicking hardware”. In short, she really likes pushing buttons!
Her interest in computers followed her as she grew up. “I love machines and how they work, and having seen them evolve into the powerful machines we have today amazes me. I think it’s fascinating that computers have become such an integral part of our society, connecting everyone around the globe in nothing more than a couple of clicks. To eventually reach a society where everyone can look up whatever they wish to look up without restrictions and censorship is what I hope to contribute to, however little it may be”. Her dedication and willingness to help are what define her in the work that she does. She simply loves connecting things, again: pushing buttons!
Angelique thanks her job at Vertigo Games through a friend she’s known for years. TamTu, who works as a Community Manager for Vertigo Games, mentioned the need for an IT person. “So I offered to send in my resume, and here we are”. It’s funny how things go, as Angelique’s story with TamTu goes further than that. “You see, TamTu and I used to have this self-inserted comic series years ago, in which our characters were superheroes, living together in a large mansion. He was the leader of the team and I was the tech-savvy second-in-command, doing all the computer stuff, or just brashly rushing in and selflessly put myself in harm’s way for others. Looking back at those fond memories of staying in touch, and how we now both work for a VR Game studio, with him being a public face and me working on tech behind the scenes makes me giggle. It’s as if we had some strange precognitive experience”.
All in all, Angelique says she feels proud of who she is today. “Overcoming my personal shortcomings and evolving into the person I am today is one of my biggest accomplishments. Either that, or having my own music available on Spotify due to my hobby of composing chiptunes”!
Rowenna Roelofsen, new as a UI/UX designer at Vertigo Games, makes sure we provide our players with the best possible user experience. While working closely together with other disciplines, such as artists, designers and developers, she ensures that the interfaces are intuitive, fitting to the art direction, and are aesthetically pleasing.
With a background in communication and multimedia design, Rowenna started her VR journey by taking the minor Applied Game Design. “Here I worked on my first VR project. It wasn’t a masterpiece by any means, but it definitely got me interested in designing UI/UX for games in VR”. She loves the complexity of it, and translating this into something that’s easy to use for the users. “Especially with complicated features or content heavy interfaces, making a coherent/intuitive design sometimes feels like solving a puzzle”. Apart from this, her love for video games fits perfectly with the work that she does. “I’ve been playing games as far as I can remember, starting on old school consoles like the Sega, Atari and SNes, to now trying to get my hands on a PS5.”
Working on user experiences in VR applications really sparks her curiosity. “I feel like VR brings a lot of new and interesting usability questions to the table, many of which don’t have a clear solution yet. This requires a bunch of research, prototyping and testing, which I think is very rewarding”.
Rowenna describes herself as being creative, empathic, organized, analytical and curious. Qualities that benefit her well in the type of work that she does. She will never pass on the opportunity to learn and grow, and she has already had the privilege to work with some amazingly talented people who taught her a lot. “I think, like many people who start in a new field, I doubted myself and wondered whether I’d be good enough for this industry. However, I took on every challenge and grew from it, to where I now feel confident in my craft”.
Rowenna is currently expecting her first baby in July, something she is incredibly excited about.”It did make me nervous when applying for the UI/UX position at Vertigo Games, but I’m happy to say they welcomed me with open arms, and in the end I’m proud of taking this risk!”
Sule Nur Karaaslan is a 4th -and final year student at Breda University of Applied Sciences. She’s currently a game design intern at Vertigo Games. “As a game designer, my job is to craft meaningful interactions for the player to experience. These aren’t always big and complicated systems. They can also be small moments that, when combined together, make the whole game feel fun.”
What initially got her into Creative Media and Game Technologies was her love for video games. “I just love how interactive they are and how you can tailor your experiences to how you want to enjoy it”. Being part of the development process is what makes it even more interesting to her. “To me, game design is continuously finding creative solutions to problems with the end goal of making the experience as meaningful as possible for the player. I know that we might be seen as ‘just entertainment’, but I think it’s much more than that. It is the ability to provide a temporary escape for people from the stress of their daily lives”.
Being a game designer comes with its challenges, but it’s these challenges that make her day to day work worthwhile. “We as a dev team face challenges at every corner that we collectively have to overcome. Making a game is hard, but I get to do it with amazing people and that truly motivates me to keep going”.
VR gaming is something that her younger self, playing on the PlayStation console, wouldn’t even consider to be possible. To eventually be working on VR games, is something she feels passionate about. “I always wanted to contribute to what I felt would be the next step in the evolution of games. You could say that I got lucky that Vertigo Games considered my application and took me under their wing. It feels really rewarding to be working with this technology and I look forward to what the future holds for us”. Her endless enthusiasm for this industry is accompanied by her endless determination to overcome any issue. “I see myself as a problem solver at heart. It doesn’t matter how simple or complex the problem is, I am determined to solve it”.
Suzan Gieles, Senior QA Tester who’s currently transitioning to Audio Design, is breaking games so that devs can fix them and players are way less likely to break the final product. She loves gaming and the industry around it with its people and culture. “I kind of fell into the QA role by accident”. Though it still worked out, given that she does QA testing for almost 2.5 years now. It might have something to do with her inquisitive nature. “And I like pressing buttons I’m not supposed to. I easily notice things that don’t quite work yet and I enjoy trying to break things in the same way a few times”.
Suzan got the ropes of VR through her work on National Geographic: Explore VR. “It was my first VR title and I really enjoyed working on it and learning all the different aspects of VR and the testing that comes with it”. Completing that work and watching the excitement in the players when they got their hands on what she helped create was the most rewarding thing ever. And that goes for all the projects she has completed thus far.
As for her motives to switch to Audio Design, she quickly mentions her love for music and everything related to it. “Audio design has always been a hobby and I’m looking into doing that professionally now. I enjoy making things sound just right and making sure that everything matches to create a complete atmosphere”.
Bente Schoone, currently an intern at Vertigo Games, joined the character-animation team to work on character assets, asset optimization, and hopefully creating some characters herself. Having worked for a VR company in Eindhoven during -and in-between her 2 studies, she knew she wanted to continue her career within the VR gaming industry. Being an intern at Vertigo Games has only strengthened her liking for VR even more.
Within the character-animation team, Bente enjoys the creative aspect of her work. When making a realistic asset or character, she says there’s so much more to it than simply replicating an image. “Every crack in an object or piece of cloth that is placed just a bit differently can tell a story and that’s why it’s so fun and creative to work in a job like this”. It’s what keeps her motivated to learn new things and put knowledge into practice.
Not that long ago, Bente completed her graduation project, of which she is extremely proud. She had researched two hair-creation pipelines for game characters and created those for in-game use. From referencing and creating a hairstyle to having it in a game with nice hair physics, Bente was able to successfully complete this.
As for the near future, she plans to continue to do what she loves, which is using her creativity, researching and learning along the way. “Looking up small things that can make my creations better, such as modeling a weird piece of clothing, or how a specific piece of leather is sculpted, makes me look forward to every new project.”
Charissa Mitrasing, HR Recruiter for Vertigo Games, is responsible for recruiting, pre-screening, testing and selecting candidates for specific disciplines on all levels from junior to director level. “I started my Vertigo adventure as a freelancer back in 2019 (February-November). Now I am back again to help fill in the need for more brilliant VR developers. I will be here until July to support the hiring needs for Amsterdam and Rotterdam.”
Being part of the Human Resources/ Talent Acquisition team and working independently within a highly complex, time critical and international environment are what attracts her to her job as a recruiter. She likes to take on challenges and strives not to lose eye on providing exceptional candidate experience. Charissa will do so in a friendly, highly organized and well-planned manner, because making sure that all candidates have an amazing candidate experience is on the top of her priority list.
It’s the compliments she gets from candidates about their experience that makes her feel the most proud of her work. “Even if the candidate didn’t get the job, I believe it is very important to inform them about the reason they got rejected so they can develop themselves and work on those specific skills”. It offers them an opportunity to apply in a later stadium. Charissa sees that not a lot of companies take the time to give relevant feedback. “I’m happy, especially on the art and design position, that we do give relevant feedback”.
Merel van der Wal is Game Designer at Vertigo Games. “In the broadest sense, it is my work to make our games and experiences fun for the player”. She does so by thinking of certain interactions and how they would translate into VR, where you have controllers for hands.
She then proves if they work through prototyping and playtesting. “It’s always a constant dance of assuming what players want, being totally wrong, and adjusting designs until you find the thing that players never knew they wanted”. This requires a healthy dose of creativity, which is something Merel has plenty of.
She views game design as a problem-solving puzzle that comes in many varieties. “I would identify myself as a generalist game designer, which basically means that I just throw myself at anything the game and the team needs. From prototyping interactions, to creating scripted gameplay sequences, to level design, I’m game”. With a good amount of curiosity, she continues to develop herself, to learn and to take in new perspectives. ” I never really fitted in the mainstream education system, and almost gave up on getting a degree and a career. Now, 8 years later, I have a degree in game design and am currently getting a degree in programming at the project 42 school, Codam in Amsterdam”. It’s the people that motivated her as well. “Game development, in general, attracts a lot of incredible people. I’m always surrounded by passionate and creative humans”.
Merel stands by the idea that we learn our best lessons through play. “By playing games you might learn something about yourself, the experience of others, or something about the world we live in. So, building these “playgrounds”, for people to explore and learn in, feels incredibly meaningful to me”. Creating such experiences in VR is what makes it extra special to Merel. “When the first VR headsets entered the consumer markets, I was really hyped to try it out, and I was also an incredibly poor student who couldn’t afford them. I remember going to events in Belgium to try out the most basic experiences for just 15 minutes, and volunteering for the End user event at the VR stand, where participants could try out some games, just so I could play job-simulator during the breaks. I’ve always seen the magic and potential VR has to offer; I never knew I could be a part of it”!
Demy Heemskerk is a character artist at heart who occasionally does some prop -or environment work when needed. “What attracted me most to become a character artist is creating living creatures that tell a story about the world and environment they live in.
The way they look, their behavior and the clothes they wear are all things to consider, which adds a lot of depth and fun to the creational process”. As someone who is very attracted to cute, weird and colorful things, Demy has made it her mission to sneak some extra color and cheerfulness into her work whenever she can.
When Demy enrolled at the Breda University of Applied Sciences, she started out with little to no experience in computers or CG. “Most of the time I felt like I had to sprint in order to keep up. I frequently thought I wouldn’t be able to make it to the end”. But with determination, and her curiosity in VR, she managed to graduate. “As soon as I put on the Oculus Rift for the first time at school, I knew this was something I wanted to learn more about”. That’s why she joined a small VR startup in Eindhoven for her graduation internship, and it was there that she found out what working with VR was really like. “Most games in general, but especially VR games allow us to visit places we normally would never be able to visit in real life. Being able to work with other artists to create unique inhabitants of these worlds (whether they are 2, 4 or more-legged) is what makes me most excited about the job!”.
Deniese Datema, concept artist at Vertigo Games, specializes in the creation of conceptual imagery to help our team visualize and make better decisions on the look and feel of our games. She first explored the world of VR through her work on Skyworld VR during an internship at Wolfdog Interactive, and eventually joined the Vertigo family.
Deniese loves creating concept art for a number of reasons. “But if I had to cherry-pick; it would be storytelling and being able to solve the visual problems that our team needs to have a clear image of what our game is supposed to look like”. Being able to put down a story with emotion and the visual beauty -or horror in the freedom of her imagination, is one of her major drives and strengths. “To then see how the concept art I make can be put to use and comes to life by our amazing artists, is a huge motivator for me”.
She describes herself as a highly emotionally-tuned person. “This comes as a huge advantage when trying to interpret what is requested when working on a concept piece. Concept art in its essence is a communication job. Being able to interpret, asking the right questions and translate it into visual language are key”. When it comes to very personal, hand-tailored requests she has had from friends and clients, there are a few accomplishments that she holds dear to her. “It’s the nature of such requests that humble me as a person and remind me why I love the work I do and have me continue to hone my skills as a draftsman and concept artist”.
Linda Bendsneijder, PR and Marketing officer at Vertigo Games, works for the publishing department where we create visibility for our games and build communities. “Broadly speaking, I co-create a story behind our games and push this out into the world. Plus I write a lot! It’s really a creative outlet for me. How to position our games and how to communicate this accurately can be challenging at times, but always in a good way. It’s fun and energizing”.
She thinks the VR gaming culture is a very uplifting one to mingle yourself in. “I really like the positivity and ‘informalness’ of it. Simply speaking, we provide entertainment for people, so that means I don’t have to be very static in my messaging. Instead, I can play with our tone of voice in a way that fits the game. This can vary from ‘Unplugged is just 2 days away from fulfilling your wildest rock dreams on Quest!’ to ‘It’s Friday… Time for some re-loading this weekend with After the Fall!’. This offers me a lot of freedom and allows me to be creative”. It’s why she thinks her qualities from being punctual to imaginative come in handy. “I’m a planner, have eyes for the little things and I like to play with words to create a logical narrative, which work well in the job that I do”.
Vertigo Games is Linda’s first gaming company that’s specialized in VR. “I have experience working in the gaming industry before, doing PR for an indie-game publisher, which I kind of rolled into. I’ve always liked the entertaining aspect of the gaming industry. People play games in their free time to enjoy themselves, so I think it’s a fun product to market. We essentially offer people a way to have fun. And I think that with VR, we’re taking this to another level entirely. It’s a whole immersive experience and something that’s on the rise right now. How exciting is that?!”
To market something that’s on the rise and fairly new, is an exciting experience in which she gets to learn many new things. “It’s the best feeling to see a campaign we’ve worked so hard on go live and to receive a lot of positivity for it. From a marketing perspective, we’re putting a lot of hours into building a brand and to see all the pieces of the puzzle come together in the end is very rewarding”. When she sees outlets and players talk about our game in exactly the same way we intended to position it, she gets very excited. “It’s proof that, to a certain degree, we managed to steer the conversations in the right direction”.
Regina van Tongeren, Sr. Marketing Manager at Vertigo Games, helps the marketing team to make our awesome products shine and to get as many VR players hooked as possible. Regina has a fascination for storytelling and consumer psychology, which play a big role in the work that she does. “I am curious to understand what consumers enjoy about VR gaming, what makes them choose it over all the other entertainment choices we have these days and what they enjoy once they’re in a VR game.
Her other big love is gaming. “I always loved games, played them as a kid a long time ago, and I even convinced my professor it was a good idea for a film student to do a thesis on games. Fast forward to getting my first marketing job at EA and experiencing many great adventures at Warner Bros Games from 2008 onward” There she tried out one of the first consumer headsets that was about to hit the market. “And after that I was hooked, so I was very happy when Kimara, Director of Publishing at Vertigo Games, reached out to me last year with the question of joining the marketing team”.
Getting to work with a new entertainment medium with no beaten tracks to walk on, is both challenging and exciting for Regina. “Being part of an amazing team that is continuously shaping the best practices for VR in both production and in marketing/ communication, is awesome. We are the ones that create the new tracks to walk on!” She says it’s her curiosity and honesty she puts into the work that she does. That, and her ambition with a pinch of conscientiousness and compassion.
Within her work, Regina feels it’s not just achievements that will make you happy. “It’s all about what happens in between them; how much you learn, grow, enjoy, and help/ inspire others. As Albert Einstein once said: “Try not to become a person of success, but a person of value”
Thank you for taking the time to read about some of the talented women working at Vertigo Games. There are a multitude of other amazing women who contribute to our games in unique ways as well, and this is by no means an all-inclusive list.
Happy Women’s Day!