Joanna’s passion for games started at a young age, playing Chuckie Egg on her BBC Micro and Sonic on her Sega Master System. At the age of 13, she stopped playing as her friends gave her the impression that gaming wasn’t for girls. But at 18, a group of colleagues rekindled her passion, and she started playing SingStar, EyeToy and Buzz, games that she later worked on.
After studying computer science at university, she realised games design could combine her love of technology and creative writing. Buzz was her first foray into the industry, in a role managing voiceover sessions with Jason Donovan, which was a dream job! Joanna loves accessible, multiplayer 2D games, and wondered if she could sustain a career making those titles, but when Sony stopped making Buzz, she worked on the Connect controller for the Xbox before moving onto mobile development for Hasbro. There she worked on Furby games, and came up with the masterstroke of Furby using an iPad as a toilet!
Joanna’s breakthrough came when she joined Brighton indie Snap Finger Click and designed games to be streamed on Twitch, including a Family Feud game, which has been a huge success - it even overtook Fortnite at one point! She loves working on accessible multiplayer party games that can be played remotely, a genre that has exploded during the pandemic.
She’s humbled and shocked to be part of this year’s BAFTA Breakthrough scheme. Joanna acknowledges the lack of female leaders in games design - she’s only worked with two other women designers in her career - and she is glad to show that the industry is becoming more inclusive.
Joanna’s Breakthrough credit is game Family Feud (Ubisoft)