Belén Albeza

My nerd story


This is post follows a meme initiated by Crystal Beasly, where she shared her own nerd story, in the hopes of providing role models to new female devs.

Write your own and tweet it with the hashtag #mynerdstory!

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When I was born there were already videogames at home. My father had an Spectrum and my brother and I played so much that we got our first console (a Master System 2!) when we were still very young.

My brother and I shared toys, so besides videogames, we mostly played with action figures, little ponies, cars and LEGO. I also loved to draw. On everything (this included my room's walls, and my dad's comics), much to my parent's despair.

Videogames were how I was introduced to computers. My father bought a 486 for his work at the clinic and installed a few games so we could play whenever we were there (I have very fond memories of X-Wing and Quest for Glory III). Eventually we got a Pentium at home.

About this time, I started "computing" lessons at school. Mostly very boring stuff, but I skipped till the end of the book and there was an appendix that was an introduction to BASIC. I launched gorilla.bas and then, BOOM! That was the time that I realised that I could make my own games.

Get ready for the next level

So this was my personal quest since I was 12 years old. I also started to learn HTML, but my primary drive was to learn how to code so I could make games. This was a big problem for a number of reasons:

My parents bought me a few programming books: I played with Delphi, Visual Basic and C. I found online that games were made with C and was pretty happy with it. I still didn't know how the hell I could draw pictures on the screen in C, but I carried on nevertheless.

Until something magical happened.

I was reading a computers magazine and there were a few pages displaying the winners of a game development contest. They mentioned that many entries were made using a compiler called DIV Games Studio. A few days later, I found that software in a local shop, and I hurried back home to get the money to buy it.

Div manual

I have a very crisp memory of the very first moment I got to draw an sprite of the screen. It was a white triangle that was supposed to be an space ship. I was 14 years old and I finally managed to code my own game! Since I also liked drawing, you can imagine I had tons of fun with this.

Thanks to DIV I joined my first developer community, we had a mailing list and an IRC channel. Many people I met there are now working in the games industry or they are still making games on their free time, which is amazing. Back then I maintained my own website where I'd put news about the community, my games and some tips/tutorials.

Then I started uni and found out that I love computer science and programming, not just game development. When you think about programming, it is something that allows you to make real almost anything you imagine. It can't get cooler than that!

So here I am :) I'm very grateful for the amazing people I got to know, and my very-awesome-very-smart developer friends.



What I don't like at all about my nerd story is that when I was growing up and learning to code, I didn't have any female role model at all. Not only that, I didn't have any female peer! In the DIV community, I was the only girl there, and that automatically put me in the spotlight, which I didn't feel comfortable with. Then at uni I had my dose of sexism, which is sad and discouraging. If I didn't love computing so much, I would probably have dropped out.

ADDENDUM: I just re-read the epilogue it sounds a bit pesimistic. Don't be discouraged! We are lucky that nowadays there is awereness about these issues and the development community is trying to fix things so everybody feels welcome and is able to contribute. Don't let a few idiots stop you.