When girls come into the world, they are wrapped in a pink blanket. From such a young age, girls are geared towards feminine activities. What if a young girl wants to play video games? Why is this an activity that has such a negative stigma tied to it? Why do we all envision an overweight, balding, 30-something in a basement, playing games while eating Cheetos with no ‘real-life’ friends? This is a stigma that Rabecca Rocha has had to come against numerous times in her career.
“Let them [girls] play. When women and girls play, we will get better storytelling in the games,” explained Becca.
I ‘met’ Rocha through the Women In Tech Snapchat. Over the phone, on a Friday morning, I got to chat with Rocha. Her humor and warmth can be felt from her home in Seattle.
Now, Rocha is not just a Q&A tester, but a YouTube creator and cheerleader. Yes, cheerleader — we will get into that later.
Let’s start from the beginning. She was born in and spent her early years in, East LA. She fondly remembers the block parties and the local gang members who were kind and her friends. She also remembers her dad’s Nintendo. “I wasn’t allowed to play it,” she giggled, “My Dad was afraid I would break it.”
But her parents wanted to raise her in a safer environment. So they packed up and moved to a suburban area of Seattle, Washington, when Rocha was in 4th grade. “I moved to an area that was very white. Kids, were not necessarily mean, but I was asked, ‘are you, Mexican’?”
In middle school, she discovered the PlayStation 1 and had a group of friends with similar interests. They all had a similar affinity for Sailor Moon. She would play and watch Sailor Moon with her new friends.
In 2008, she started her college career at The Art Institute of Seattle. During her college years, she was able to combine her two loves — traditional art and media art. Like most students, she had to attend school and work part-time to pay the bills. She was in charge of paying her way through college. Because the recession was in full swing when she graduated, her career as a Q&A tester got off to a rocky start. “My first Q&A testing [job] was bullpen style. You would be playing games and figuring out what was wrong with the equipment or the games. The product I was testing was XBOX 1,” Rocha stated.
The job was good, while it lasted. Unfortunately, it was perdiem, meaning that they would call testers only as they needed them. “They just stopped calling. So I went back to Starbucks and was a security guard while looking for other Q&A testing jobs,” she explained.
In 2015, she finally got that “golden ticket” position from Compucon, who was looking to hire a diverse group of Q&A Testers.
Throughout all her positions she has noticed the pink elephant in the room. She was usually one of the few girls and one of the few Latinas. “I went to an HOLA event. It’s the organization that Microsoft has started. It was great meeting other Latinos in the tech industry. But a part of me was sad because the room wasn’t even full. There were only 35 people,” stated Rocha.
Rocha continues to network. This is where her YouTube channel, LatinaGeek comes into play. “I didn’t start my Youtube channel as a career, but for a place for young Latinas who like anime to have a place to chat and play,” Rocha said.
Rocha’s YouTube channel is a commentary on numerous games. Our conversation moved back to the stigma of games.
I asked her how she felt about parents being worried that games will ruin their kids’ lives.
“You have to be a parent and moderate what your kid is playing. But know that games can help your child decompress. That there is nothing inherently wrong with your child if they enjoy playing,” Rocha explained.
When Rabecca Rocha isn’t kicking ass at a networking event, or creating venues for young Latinas to play games, she cheers. Yup, she is part of CHEER Seattle, which is an organization that encourages high school students to be open-minded and include all students regardless of sexual orientation.
Oh, Becca, you are “I.N.S.P.I.R.I.N.G.”