By: Derik Wuchte
College students spend countless hours taking classes, participating in student organizations and completing internships all in the hopes of building a résumé that is strong enough to help them land the job of their dreams. One Georgia Southern University graduate has managed to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together in order to break her way into a career in the rapidly growing field of video game programming.
“I want people to learn that it isn’t an underdog story,” Ashleigh Amrine, a videogame software engineer and GSU alumna said. “It’s possible for anyone.”
After graduating from GSU last spring, Amrine jumped straight into the video game business, hoping to have the opportunity to flex her creativity and give players a chance to do the same. Amrine found her dream career becoming a reality when she began working as a software engineer for Kaneva, a game development company based in Atlanta.
Kaneva is considered a sandbox MMO, or massively multiplayer online game, which means that a large number of players can all play simultaneously on one video game. The “sandbox” is an open world concept that allows players a great amount of freedom in how they play a video game or how they achieve their objectives.
However, Kaneva is not a normal run-of-the-mill MMO. “Everyone has their world, and you can visit [other players’] worlds.” Ashleigh said. “There is a lot less people trying to mess up peoples’ stuff. There is more freedom. You can only edit if you have permission.”
As a software engineer, Amrine will be developing mini-games and tools for users to use in their worlds.
.Amrine’s presence in the community also earned her a position at SIEGE, the Southern Interactive Entertainment and Game Expo, in Atlanta. It is the largest game developer conference in the Southeast.
Guests all over the country attend and hold presentations at SIEGE. Sessions from everything such as advanced programming to game development take place during the expo. Ashleigh will be working as the Design Track Lead and speaker at SIEGE when it takes place in October.
“Almost all Atlanta game companies have a hand in it,” Amrine said.
Amrine did not intend to follow this path when she started college. She started her college career as an art major but found that it was not as fulfilling as she thought it would be.
“Art was not my only passion, but it was also computers, playing games,” Amrine said.
After deciding her future wasn’t in art, she changed her major to computer science. That was when she realized there was something there for her. She just needed to find the right way to get started.
“I didn’t really know anyone at first, but I saw the Aurora Game Club was having meetings,” Amrine said. From there, she got her first taste of game development. “The club really opened up my eyes,” Amrine said.
Before she left GSU, Amrine was the vice president of the Aurora Game Development Club. As the vice president, Amrine had the responsibility of teaching the new members the basics of creating their own game. As Amber Gordon, senior public relations major and current president of Aurora, described, Ashleigh had a knack for teaching game programming.
“She was phenomenal. She’s one of our most successful members,” Gordon said. “Ashleigh would really show what it took to program. Training groups she taught would win our final showcase. She was a great team player.”