#MeetIronGalaxy – Chiara Marcario
Special delivery! Meet another team member from our studios and hear their story. Chiara steps up to speak with us today. Learn about a developer who emerged from the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, who’s been delivering ever since.
Iron Galaxy: Hey there. What’s your name and what do you do here at IG?
Chiara Marcario: Hey! I’m Chiara, and I’m a Software Engineer here at IG. I slap a keyboard and some code comes out of it. I started here in September of 2021 during my last semester of grad school, and I’ve been working here since then.
IG: Congratulations on the recent-ish graduation! We’re happy to work with you. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
CM: Imposter Syndrome for sure. I’ve been prone to it in most aspects of my life, but with coding and game dev, it is so incredibly exacerbated. I don’t have a typical engineering background, so when I started grad school and then subsequently started here, I felt a lot of pressure that I had to excel. I was so, so worried I wouldn’t be able to hack it, and frankly I still am sometimes. It’s really a battle between my rational brain, which says not every path is the same and that I wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t do it, and my idiot brain which loves to scrutinize every single flaw. I also have people around me who can help keep my head right, both professionally and not, and it’s very reassuring to hear from others that I not only deserve to be here, but that they experience the same thing. I just have to try to remember that yes, I know what I’m doing, and I am here for a reason.
IG: That’s a very honest response. What is the one skill you learned growing up that you use the most in your role?
CM: I’m gonna say problem solving. Knowing a programming language is half the battle. So often, you’re presented with an issue or given something that you have to make, and you have to put the pieces together in order to get it where it needs to go. You have to do this within the context of whatever game you’re working on, so not only do you have to fix your bug or make your thing, you also have to do it in a way that plays nicely with everything else that’s going on. And there’s usually more than one way to do it. You must determine which way is best for each situation. It’s like solving a puzzle, where all the pieces come from different boxes, but still have to make one cohesive image. And I’ll tell you right now, I did a lot of puzzles growing up.
IG: What has been your proudest moment as a member of the Iron Galaxy team?
CM: Shipping the PC port for Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves! Working on this project was honestly crazy. This was my first job in the industry. That was the first thing I worked on, and it was honestly a little surreal. Uncharted is such an iconic series, and I was such an honor to be able to have a hand in bringing that experience to PC players. Seeing people play it and enjoy it was really rewarding. I also never had a PlayStation myself until very recently, so I finally got to play it too!
IG: Congrats are in order once again! How is your specific job unique when compared to the other roles in our company?
CM: I’m gonna make this a theme and say I think it would be the sheer amount of problem solving involved. That’s not to say that the other disciplines don’t have problem solving involved, but it’s integral to programming in a way that I don’t think it is in other areas. I kind of got into it already above so I won’t write an essay here, but programming is a really elaborate puzzle. Whether that’s a bug, a feature, a tool, or whatever, it’s all just getting a problem and having to build your way to a solution.
IG: If you could give someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps one piece of advice, what would it be?
CM: There is no one way to get here. I started off college as a music major, and when I graduated it wasn't with a full CS degree. It was an aspect of my major, but it wasn’t the whole thing. My job after college was totally unrelated to games and had zero coding involved. I wasn’t even sure if the singular C++ project I submitted with my portfolio to apply to grad school even compile, and yet here I am. If you look at what people in this industry do and think “I could never do that,” you are wrong! You can do it! It is never too late to learn the skills you need to be here. Odds are, you already have some of them. You just need to fill in the gaps.
IG: Inspiring advice, Chiara. What is the best thing about working at a video game development company?
CM: It’s not at all monotonous. There are engineering jobs out there where they just maintain the same chunk of code, or just do the same thing over and over again. Game dev is not one of those jobs. Things are constantly changing in this job, be it with technology in the industry or with new things that can arise on a singular project.
IG: What is your favorite perk associated with your job?
CM: Being up to date with industry news. Since IG has so many different projects going on at any one time, we get little glimpses of the things going on all over the industry. It’s really neat to see.
IG: How collaborative are you with different teams across Iron Galaxy?
CM: As a whole, I don’t do a ton of collaborating with people on projects outside of my own. However, on my team itself, I do a lot of communicating with the design and art side of things. I’ve done a lot of UI work, so it’s crucial to be able to work with everyone involved, be it in how it looks or how it works.
I will say, I’ve been doing work with the DEIA committee and the LGBT+ employee resource group, and this has gotten me talking to a lot of people that I don’t normally talk to when doing project work. Especially now that pride month is upon us.
IG: What is the most rewarding aspect of creating for others?
CM: I absolutely love having a hand in creating things that people enjoy. When you hear someone rave about a game, talking about how much joy it has brought them, and knowing you had a hand in that? It’s an incredible feeling. It makes me so glad to know that something I have worked on brings such happiness to other people.
IG: What is an impactful moment you’ve experienced where a video game affected someone’s life?
CM: Games can do so much good for people. I know people who were able to get into shape because of Ring Fit Adventure. Many people have made wonderful, meaningful relationships because of games. People use games to get through dark times in their lives. I know for myself, I really, really struggled when we all went into isolation at the beginning of the pandemic, and games were one of the big things that got me through that.
IG: What’s another favorite hobby of yours, besides games?
CM: Music! I’ve been a musician for most of my life. I’ve been playing saxophone for nearly 17 years now. It was my primary instrument in college when I was still a music major, and I kept it as my minor after I switched out of that. I also am decent at piano and singing. I can play enough chords on guitar and ukulele to get by. I play in a local orchestra and sing in a local choir and it’s great! I also had the opportunity to sing in the choir for the Candlelight Processional at Disney, which was a lot of fun.
IG: What is something everyone must do once in their life?
CM: I feel like everyone should travel internationally, at least once. Experience a place and culture that isn’t your own. Also, try new food.
IG: Life advice received! What is something you have always wanted to create?
CM: I’d love to get my act together and actually write something. I have these really vivid dreams and sometimes I’ll get one that’s so intense, that I have to go and do a bunch of worldbuilding or something because I can’t get it out of my head. I keep saying I’m gonna take these wacko dreams and write short stories or something, but I never get past scatterbrained notes in a google doc. One of these days I’ll go and actually make something out of them.
IG: You’ve spoken about your goals on the world wide web! The internet will now be looking forward to your short stories. What’s your favorite destination to travel to?
CM: Maybe I’m biased because I just got back, but Iceland! It was a ridiculously cool place. I really love hiking and nature, and that place has so much of both. Like, I walked on a glacier. I drank out of said glacier. I stood over a crevasse that, apparently, was very new. I saw a lava field. The lava was hardened, but it was still steaming, which was rad.
I got real up close and personal with several waterfalls. The environment was just so different from anything I’ve ever seen. You know how when you’re approaching a mountain range, there’s some smaller hills before you hit the mountains? Not in Iceland. It’ll be flat and then BAM. Mountains. Also, the water there was SO good. I don’t even have the proper words for how cool it was. It was awesome. 10/10.
IG: That description sounds unreal. What is one place that you hope to see one day?
CM: There’s a lot of places I want to go, but I’d really like to visit Alaska. There’s a lot of cool nature there, but in particular I would LOVE to see the Aurora Borealis.
IG: Fairbanks will have a new visitor soon! What is one genre of games that you think is underrated?
CM: I don’t know if it’s underrated per say, but it’s one of my favorite genres and I think more people should play them, so I’m gonna say Metroidvanias. They’ve just got a little bit of everything, you know? It’s such a diverse genre. You can usually find something you like, even if you’re not into everything that it has to offer. The soundtracks usually slap, so that’s a bonus.
IG: What is your favorite novel?
CM: Currently it’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. Really good, human story. It’s about game devs!
IG: What was the last group you saw in concert?
CM: A kpop group called SuperM. I was a pretty big kpop fan pre-pandemic and kpop concerts are an absolute blast. If a group I liked was coming through, I would usually go. SuperM was no exception. It was very fun. I’m not so into kpop anymore, but I’d probably still go see certain groups live, cause again, they’re really fun.
IG: What game have you poured the most time into?
CM: I’m pretty sure it’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I’m just shy of 600 hours in it. You may think, “Wow, Chiara, that’s a lot of time in that game, I bet your island looks great,” do not fool yourself. I do this thing where I keep coming up with a design for my island, halfway implement it, then get a new idea and start over again. I don’t time travel, so it ends up being a loooong process. I’ve reset it twice and have never once reached five stars. Maybe one day I’ll get there.
There is a chance that I have more hours in Skyrim, but the time I’ve spent in that game is split up between different accounts and releases of that game so I don’t know what the actual number is. I also wanna give honorable mentions to Breath of the Wild, Stardew Valley, Slay the Spire, and Hades.
IG: Your island efforts deserve a Lily of the Valley, even if Tom Nook can’t see it. What has been your favorite series binge?
CM: Heartstopper! It is such a cute and sweet show, and for any LGBT+ friends reading this, it is a show that will absolutely heal your inner child. It’s the kind of show that I wish I had seen when I was 15. If you’re ever feeling down, give this show a watch. It will make you feel better. It’s a quick binge, only like four hours. Highly recommend.
Honorable mention to The Mole reboot on Netflix. God-tier reality television.
IG: What is the one superpower that you would like to have?
CM: Maybe it’s basic, but I wanna fly. It just seems like it would be really fun. I wouldn’t have to drive ever again, which would be a huge win.
IG: You get one wish. You can’t wish for more wishes. What do you wish for?
CM: I think I’d eradicate student and medical debt. I’d make sure they can’t come back.
IG: Given a time machine, which historical period would you like to experience first-hand?
CM: The roaring 20s, I think. I love to swing dance and I like jazz, and that was really the prime time for it.
IG: What fictional universe would you choose over our own? What if there was no coming back?
CM: Man I have spent a LOT of time thinking about this question. Do I wanna go to the Star Wars universe and fly around in space? Do I wanna see what post-calamity Hyrule is like? I don’t know. If there was no coming back though I’d probably go live on Coral Island. It’s peaceful, it’s pretty, and there’s mermaids.
Nice chatting with you Chiara. It was awesome getting some Q&A time with you. We appreciate you bringing so much fun to our virtual events around the office and for contributing in so many ways here at IG. Imposter syndrome has a way of catching up with us all, however your efforts here are seen and very much appreciated, thank you!
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