“[My professor] pushed me to get more involved in the industry, and I heeded the advice.”

Rebecca Hallstedt ’17

Artist. Pacemaker. Gamer.

Rebecca Hallstedt discusses her defining moments as a Game Art student.

Rebecca Hallstedt is a recent Game Art alumna from Columbia College Chicago. Right after graduation, Hallstedt got a job at Blizzard Entertainment, where she creates art for the world's most-subscribed MMORPG, World of Warcraft. During her time at Columbia, Hallstedt interned for two Chicago-based video game developers: High Voltage Software and Netherrealm Studios.

How did you land your first internship?

During my junior year, I felt like I needed some direction. I spoke with a faculty member in the Interactive Arts and Media Department, Alex Damarjian, who told me about a company in the suburbs that he once worked at named High Voltage. He urged me to send in my resume and portfolio, saying “Don’t come back until you’ve sent the application.” Alex was joking, of course, because he’d be there if I needed him. But he pushed me to get more involved in the industry, and I heeded the advice. Within 24 hours of sending an email, I had a response from High Voltage, and they wanted to interview me. A few weeks later, I had my first internship.

What did you do at High Voltage?

As a 2D Art Intern, I got to create art for the games Dragon Front and Damaged Core, which was a great learning experience. Both games are developed for virtual reality gameplay, with Dragon Front being a turn-based collectible card game and Damaged Core a first-person shooter game.

As a woman heading into a male-dominated industry, how has Columbia supported you?

Brianna Wu, a video game developer and computer programmer, came to Columbia to speak about being a woman in the game industry. Brianna has been the target of death threats for speaking out against GamerGaters, a collective who claim to want to “protect the gamer identity,” though they are widely known for misogynistic principles. With Brianna being such a controversial figure, I thought it was cool that Columbia invited her to come speak.

Her presentation was “Choose Your Character,” and she spoke about her game studio, Giant Spacekat, while answering all of our questions. She emphasized that women should stick to what they believe and keep fighting for equal opportunity, pay and representation. 

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