Amanda Wixted is Responsible for Your iPhone Game Addiction
Like many smart and friendly 28-year-old women, Amanda Wixted likes shopping, music (she’s taking violin lessons) and having dinner with friends. What’s original, and awe-inspiring, about her is that she’s the Technical Lead on the iPhone Team for Zynga. Zynga makes games you must have heard of – Farmville, Mafia Wars, Petville, Live Poker – unless you’ve been living under a rock (or haven’t logged onto Facebook since before September 2007). Amanda leads a team that puts these games on the iPhone.
TechFemme: How did you start your career in technology?
Amanda Wixted: I had an interest in computers as a kid but I started out as a Dance major in college. Then I took a Calculus class, and some of the people in my study group were Computer Science majors who showed me what they were working on. I fell in love with it. I started out at Tulane but transferred to the University of Arizona because they’re better known for Computer Science. I learned Java in college. Once you learn any Object Oriented programming language, others are easy to pick up.
TF: What’s the make-up of the team you lead at Zynga? The male/female ratio?
AW: We actually have 14 programmers in house. The other female programmer is part of an outsource team and doesn’t technically work for Zynga. There are no other females on the Zynga mobile programming team besides me.
TF: What’s it like leading a team of mostly males?
AW: I don’t know any different so it’s hard to say. But I think individual differences outweigh the gender differences.
TF: What’s your favorite part of your job?
AW: Pure coding – animation, etc. I like coding the best.
TF: Do you play any of your own games?
AW: It’s hard to play games you’ve worked on because you spend so much time actually in the game. But I like to play LivePoker sometimes.
TF: How do you like living in the Bay Area?
AW: I love it. I don’t think I’m ever going to leave.
What I like best about Amanda is that she’s passionate about doing her thing. She has plenty to be proud of – Each of the iPhone games Amanda has worked on has been in the Top 10 Free Apps on the App Store and one remains in the Top 10 Free Apps of all time. Millions of people play her games on the iPhone daily. She could justifiably brag about her accomplishments day and night. But instead, she puts that energy into her work, and she’s exceptionally good at her job. You can hear it in her voice – Amanda loves what she does.