About Me

In Print


 April 6, 2012   |   Megha Pai

In the usually male-dominated world of video game development, Dubai-based game concept artist Sarita Kolhatkar is a bit of a rarity — and she’s aware of it.

Hooked onto gaming since the age of eight, when her parents gifted her a Nintendo for Christmas, Sarita talks about her love for gaming, why it is here to stay and why more and more women should take up the profession.

Take us back to the beginning. What made you pursue gaming?

I was born and raised in Dubai. From a very young age I loved to draw. When I was about eight years old, my parents gifted me a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) for Christmas. And after that, my life changed completely. I would avidly play Mario Brothers, Contra, Donkey Kong etc. I would even draw the characters in my sketchbook! It was around then that I knew I wanted to work in gaming.

Why are there so few female game artists and programmers compared to men?

Video game development is generally considered a typically male domain where men make male-oriented games for male gamers.

Female game developers represent a distinct minority in the industry but encouragingly this now appears to be changing. In 2005, for example, fewer than 10 per cent of gaming jobs were filled by women but the latest research suggests that the number of women working in the games industry has increased to 15 per cent worldwide. The gaming industry is waking up to the need to recruit women in order to get a female perspective in and capture the next generation of female gamers.

What are the skills that are crucial to working in the video game industry?

Creativity, communication, dedication. You need the creativity to have a vision, see what will make a game fun and create a great experience. You need the communication to articulate that vision to other people and get them to do what you think needs to be done. And you need dedication to see your vision through — to work your way through the disappointments and failures.

Where do you get the ideas and inspiration for your designs?

I read a lot of stories and folktales, so I use that as an inspiration for creating my concepts. In addition to the actual work I do for a studio, I need to have my own artwork for my portfolio. I’m always making new artwork and game studios need to see that I’m always inspired, and always updating my portfolio on my website (

Also, a lot of my work is inspired by animals and nature; I think they’re wonderful creatures and I’m just in awe of their beauty and tenderness. Plus, I think animals are a great way to connect with children, whether is trying to get a message across or reading them a story.

What are the good aspects to video games?

I’m from the video game generation and spent most of my early years playing video games. I know people usually jump to the conclusion that “kids are spending too much time playing video games. They should go outside and play. These games are too violent. We need more wholesome entertainment.” But the basic fact is, video games are here to stay. The same generation that grew up with a Nintendo or an Atari is now raising a family, complete with a PlayStation 3, Wii, or the X Box 360 for their own kids.

Take the Wii. That is a perfect example of a game system that makes an effort to produce family games. They have games like
tennis or golf, which allow the gamer to jump around and play with their family members and friends. Also, games like Rockband and Guitar Hero give normal folks like us, the perfect chance to feel like a rockstar!

Video games don’t have to be restricted to one type of person anymore. The gaming platform has expended immensely, allowing all kinds of people to participate and live out their innermost dreams.

And the negatives?

The obvious is the gaming addiction. But then again too much of anything is bad and it applies to everything, not just gaming. When done in moderation it can be great therapy.