Hazel is a game designer and academic who creates educational games and interactives. She works with Te Papa Tongarewa in forging new digital experiences for museum visitors.
What do you do on an average work day?
I work on the design and development of games and interactives, as part of the digital team for the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa.
As a game designer, my day can consist of design creation and collaboration, working in conjunction with developers, artists and Agile project managers in creating a game or interactive.
I might also undertake user experience (UX) studies, exploring whether people enjoy the digital products we develop.
I’m also responsible for keeping my projects on track and on budget.
What did you study at school? And after high school?
I always wanted to be an artist; anything creative really excites me.
From an early age I loved technology and was fascinated by how things worked. At school I studied the usual subjects, history, science, geography and art. But the creative subjects were my favourites.
Unfortunately, as a girl I was discouraged from studying technology subjects at my school in the UK - and computers weren’t readily accessible at home or school.
After I left school it took a few years before deciding I wanted to study at University. As a mature student I undertook an undergraduate degree in Fine Art. This degree allowed me to combined traditional art subjects, such as painting and sculpture, with media subjects like film, video-editing and digital imaging manipulation.
After my degree, I studied for a Masters in Design, specialising in computer game playability. My Masters focused on design-thinking alongside applied psychology.
Most recently, I undertook a Doctorate in Human Interface Technology, in the field of Interaction Design. Where my research thesis specialised in design processes for educational focused computer games.
Was your study directly related to what you do now?
I directly apply my research studies everyday in my work guiding the design of digital interactives and computer games for broad and diverse audiences. I'm fortunate to be able to design fun, immersive and enjoyable experiences for all types of people and their needs.
What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?
Have confidence in your abilities! If you enjoy a subject and you find it interesting don’t let outside pressures put you off from following your curiosity.
Everyone’s path into the world of technology is different, and sometimes it takes a while to know what the right path is for you. So give yourself time to explore and assess opportunities, as it really is never too late to start.
What are some of your career highlights so far?
Where to start!! I was really fortunate to interview the special effects genius Ray Harryhausen (who has recently died) as part of my undergraduate thesis.
As a PhD student, I won a games design award that saw me take my GeoThermal World game to the USA and compete against the likes of MIT and Oxford University.
Most recently though, as a member of the Te Papa digital team, I was able to meet the renowned Sci-Fi author Neal Stephenson and demo the cool things we are working on at Te Papa.
Why do you believe engaging in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is important to New Zealand?
STEM subjects hold the key to addressing complex global issues like climate change, bio-diversity, food security and human population growth.
To enable our progressive New Zealand voice to be heard on the world stage, we must be able to speak with authority using the STEM global language.
Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?
Women’s voices need to be heard to ensure that a balanced perspective is fed into society. Presently, women are under-represented in STEM and therefore our voices are quieter and carry less force.
To steer a path for the future, that includes the perspective of 50% of the world’s population, we need more girls to join and shape the field, speaking for those who are unable.
Dr. Hazel Bradshaw is an academic and game designer specialising in design approaches for educational games and interactives. She is currently based in Wellington, working with Te Papa Tongarewa in forging new digital experiences for visitors.
Hazel holds a PhD in Human Interface Technology in the field of interaction design and is the founder of Driedfrog Ltd, a gameplay consultancy and design studio. She draws upon a background in visual arts and design innovation, and has held international academic positions lecturing in game design, creative technology and game art.
This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM.
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