Joyce Weisbecker

Joyce Weisbecker is a video game developer that launched games on the RCA back in the late 70s. She is believed to be one of the first indie game developers ever. Although most of her creations were released on the old RCA studio II (a little known gaming console), they still were considered successful. She is not only a legendary woman game developer but a pioneer in the gaming industry.

Joyce’s decision to work on the RCA platform was influenced by her father, Joseph Weisbecker who was an ingenious engineer that built RCA computers. Joseph’s brilliance helped introduce computers and consoles to RCA that they had never experienced before. Because of this Joyce and her sister were encouraged to spend time on computers. Eventually, her dad taught them how to program, and with this knowledge and passion, she eventually made games on the RCA studio II platform. 

She started her career with two demonstration projects for the RCA COSMAC VIP. She made two games titled Snake Race and Jackpot, and they were integrated into the old COSMAC manual as type-in programs in CHIP-8 source codes. Although she worked with RCA she was always an independent contractor and never actually an employee of the company.

In 1976, she launched her first commercial game TV Schoolhouse I which was a quiz game that was designed for the RCA II. She began the project and concluded it in a week and sold it for $250. It was her first commercial game to make headway, and it was soon followed by Speedway and Tag in October. Despite her great skill and experience, she was greatly limited by the 64 by 32-pixel display of the console. 

RCA’s console was geared more towards education than other computerized gaming systems at the time which was part of the reason the console wasn’t as popular at the time and halted production in 1978, but her indie game development career did not entirely end with the console. Before the death of Studio II, she already programmed three more games for the COSMAC VIP in 1977. They were named Slide, Sum Fun, and Sequence Shoot.

Joyce Weisbecker video game developer

After the production of those three games for the COSMAC, she decided to focus on her studies and graduated with degrees for computer science and actuarial science at Rider University. Weisbecker never quite returned to the video game scene. Instead, she returned to school and got degrees in electrical engineering and computer science in 1998. After her career in the gaming industry, she worked as an actuary and then as a radar signal processing engineer.

There are several reasons why Joyce quit her indie game developing venture in college. A lot of it had to do with personal reasons, but some of it had to do with the lack of opportunities and a relatively non-existent demand for the kind of services she was providing. All in all, Joyce Weisbecker is a brilliant engineer who forged a path for not only women in the gaming field but for indie developers everywhere and has succeeded in leaving her mark on the industry.

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