About Sadia Bashir

Forbes 30 Under 30 in Enterprise Technology

Sadia Bashir's Profile: 

Twitter @sadia_bashir1
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/sadia-bashir/
PixelArt Games Academy: www.pixelartga.com
PGA Facebook: www.facebook.com/PixelartGamesAcademy/
PGA Twitter: @PixelartGA

Sadia Bashir is the founder of PixelArt Games Academy (PGA), which is Pakistan’s first game development academy. PGA's mission is to provide education for Game development, Art & Animation, and foster the game industry in Pakistan.
Sadia was born in December 1988, in the Punjab town of Faisalabad.  She comes from a humble family, and her first exposure to gaming came at an early age while at her friend’s house through the iconic Mario Brothers series. For most people playing a game is just a hobby, but in Sadia, it ignited a passion for computer science and graphics, which transformed her life and later that of others.
In eighth grade, Sadia who studied at an underfunded and low-quality urban government school decided that she wanted to pursue an education in computers & arts. The medium of instruction at her school was in the national language of Urdu and furthermore, the school had no Computer Lab or Art program. At first, Sadia asked her principal for the opportunity to study these courses but she was denied. The principal pushed her to study what every other girl studied, subjects like Home Economics and Biology, she further threatened that if Sadia did not want to study these subjects she could leave the school.  It was at that moment that Sadia asked for a school leaving certificate.
 In her family, resources were tight and a girl's education was not the priority. Sadia realized that to study at a private school, one in which the language of instruction was English, and where there were a computer lab and an arts program, she needed to fund her own education. Teenage Sadia then started giving home tuitions and stitching clothes. With the money she earned and the consent of her parents, Sadia then joined what was her dream school. It was only later that she found out that someone from her background would not be so easily accepted in this new and challenging environment.
While most students played in the yard during the break or sat chatting in the cafeteria, Sadia found herself isolated. She decided to spend her time at the library delving further into her passions of computing, graphics, and art. She believed that to change the world, she had to start by changing herself, and her resolve to make something of her life grew strong. Sadia wanted to pave the way for the other girls of her family and became a role model for girls and women everywhere.
Her persistence paid off, and by the time she was ready for University she got multiple offers for scholarships to continue further study. Despite getting free tuition, Sadia had to continue working to fund her other expenses, but eventually, she became the very first female graduate of her family. She earned her Masters in Computer Science from COMSATS University, and she paved the way, now every girl in her family is sent to school.
When Sadia graduated from University, much to her disappointment she was unable to find any Game Studio in Pakistan where she could pursue a career. Even today Game Development in Pakistan is still in its very early years. After working as a programmer for a few years Sadia finally found an opportunity to work on games, a mentor of hers agreed to fund her and a colleague to make games, and they started out working from a small poorly lit basement. That first break coupled with the birth of the games industry in Pakistan led to more jobs, and Sadia decided to restrain herself as a 3D modeler, environmental artist, and finally team lead. She worked on many titles and outsource work, such as Entwined: Strings of Deception, Tales of Sorrow: Strawsbrough Town, Westbound: Pioneers of Adventure and more.

After seven years of working in the industry, Sadia becomes disappointed with the lack of innovation and learning in the local market, she saw studios cloning games, making inferior products, stifling creativity, and failing. It was then that Sadia decided that she needed to build the Video Game community of Pakistan. She needed to bring developers together and create an environment of shared learning, creativity, and cooperation. She started organizing meetups, game jams, and conferences. She began connecting the local community with international developers and also organizing workshops and information sessions at Universities around the country. Seeing the positive turnouts at these events led Sadia (with the help of WECREATE Pakistan) to found PixelArt Games Academy, a business centred around providing a space for developers to learn. PGA's big success at events such as Worldwide Impact Jam, Global Game Jam, and the Games Emerge Conference turned industry heads worldwide.
Game developers like Ken Levine (founder of Ghost story games, creative director Bioshock), Rami Ismail (co-founder Vlambeer), Brie Code (founder Tru Luv Media), and Jonathon Chey (co-founder of former Irrational Games) joined her advisory board and began to mentor and help Pakistani game developers and students.
 Sadia has been an inspirational role model in Pakistan,  her story via a video on the Express Tribune went viral and she became a hero to hundreds of thousands of Pakistani's. She has also received "Women Can Do" Award from US Embassy for the recognition of successful women entrepreneurs of Pakistan. She has been featured by the US embassy on international women’s day at Washington DC. Sadia has also been awarded by “women can do” award by US embassy Pakistan. She has been given multiple scholarships by the international game industry to represent Pakistani game developer’s community on events like, Game Developers Conference San Francisco, Global Game Jam Community, Train Jam, World Wide Impact Jam; She was also the first speaker from Pakistan to speak at Game Developer’s Conference, 2017 in San Francisco.

Sadia is providing fully/partially funded scholarships to women to promote technical/creative skills of video games among women. Her talent hunt program helps talented individuals to get placed in appropriate studios.  

She has recently graduated from US-Techwomen 2017 program and where she worked with Unity  Technologies and visited other organizations like Autodesk, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Salesforce, google launchpad, Symantec for the learning session in Silicon Valley for one month. During her program, she, along with her team, won funding for their project STEM for Change to empower public school girls through hands-on STEM camps in Pakistan.

She has also represented Pakistan at Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India 2017 and received a recognition certificate from Ambassador David Hale from US Embassy Islamabad. Sadia has been listed as Forbes 30 Under 30 in Enterorise Technology in Asia.

Many renowned news agencies such as Voice of America, Al-Jazeera, BBC, Glixel, IGN and New York Times etc. have interviewed Sadia for both print and digital multimedia. Below is a list of publications where she has already been featured and be on the lookout as this list is growing.

History of Talks/Seminars and Training:

  1. The process of Making Video Games, Where to start. American University, Washington DC.
  2. Indie Soapbox: Game Developers Confrence 2017, San Francisco.
  3. Animation and Games, University of Gujrat, Mandibahalwdin.
  4. Art Appreciation Seminar at Foundation University Islamabad.
  5. Games Industry: how to start a career in Game Development. NUST, EME, Islamabad.
  6. The Potential of Video Games in Pakistan. Speaker TEDx Zabist, Karachi.
  7. How to start with Game Industry, Panel Speaker at Games Emerge Conference, Islamabad
  8. Game Development Process for Indies, Speaker at Games Emerge Conference, Islamabad.
  9. US Embassy, Supply Chain Diversity initiative, US Embassy Islamabad
  10. Game Design Workshop, Games Emerge Conference, Islamabad.


Masters of Science in Computer Science
Majors (Artificial Intelligence, Software Engineering, Production processes for Video Games)
Dissertation titled "Contemporary practices of Video Game Development in Industry"

Bachelors of Science in Computer Science
Final Project: A New Life: an FPS game for Cancer Patients in Unreal Engine
Professional Experience:

PixelArt Games Academy

We provide a collaborative learning experience in game design & production, game programming, digital art & animation.

Digital skills are the future of today’s world, and we are in a dire need of adding skill sets and welcoming bigger tech industries in Pakistan. The game industry is rapidly growing, it's bringing newer technologies like robotics, VR & mixed reality into education, medicine, architecture, automotive and more. It can play an important role in promoting our culture, art and creative ideas on a global scale. As much as we can get benefitted economically benefitted by progressing in this industry, the growth of our industry in Pakistan has halted by the lack of innovation and knowledge for creating engaging interactive content.
PGA with its training spaces, external programs, and game lab, is bridging the gap between academia and the industry, we conduct training, courses, workshops, seminars, and conferences, all across Pakistan. The academy is building the right environment for innovators by providing collaborative learning experiences which not only teach technical skills and also offer the 21st-century skills like communication, leadership, public speaking and ability to build complete products independently with diverse teams. Our scope includes community development, R&D for new technologies, talent development, local industry collaboration, international industry exposure & visibility. We also host monthly game developer’s meet-up for community development.
Research & development of new methods and implementation will play an important role in the growth of the domestic game industry. Many international organizations are already working on a cross-industry implementation of video games in education, defence, medicines, and awareness of social issues. PGA features a yearly conference, the Games Emerge conference, the only conference in Pakistan which focuses on the development of the game industry. This conference brings together speakers from around the world to teach and train with latest tools, technologies, methodologies, and design techniques which are common in other parts of the world. PGA also organizes a yearly Impact Jam, a hackathon to make games on social issues. While the local market lags behind at the sound and up-to-date knowledge of new technologies, PGA with its collaboration with international partners and organizations provides training with a carefully designed curriculum which will help us to prepare our talent for the future.

PGA is currently the only player focused on the teaching of game development as a speciality. Even if there is a new entrant in the future, our advantage is in having experienced industry professionals as trainers, & most importantly bringing in international mentors for all subjects/fields.
PGA has been organizing community development events that engage the local creative community, besides building a huge goodwill in the community, it helps us to identify, our problem areas, which needs to address, opportunities of growth, and this is invaluable to future planning. Our Industry collaboration makes sure that our well-trained students will be able to find sound careers in this field.
PGA has eight advisory board and more than 15 mentors around the world, these are experienced and successful game developers & industry leaders. PGA’s advisory board not only provides guidance and exposure to the international industry but also provides visibility to Pakistani game developers on a global level. Our advisory board & mentors help us to maintain our standards according to the industry needs, they also mentor our student directly via skype & help them with their ideas & projects.
PGA is providing training, but also making our talent self-sufficient, they can work in this industry as an entrepreneur, remotely, freelance, or as an independent developer. This is especially beneficial to women who already benefit from our women based scholarships. By providing everyone a collaborative learning experience based on equality, which teaches digital skills & also soft skills such as, communication, team building, leadership development, project, community & team management, we can help a lot of Pakistani men & women regardless of social circumstances and boundaries.
Our programs also address the significant gender gap in the game industry by maintaining 33% ratio of females. they’re empowered to build their games, & develop confidence working industry and help us prepare talents for this emerging industry in Pakistan. 

Learn more about PGA www.pixelartga.com

Games Emerge Conference (GEC):

Pakistan's only games conference held annually to bring together all game developers, artist and creative individual under one roof.

STEM for Change

STEM for Change is an impact and outreach community that endeavors to address Pakistan’s severe gender disparity in STEM careers and leadership. It aims to achieve more women representation in STEM fields through hands-on workshops, mentorship programs, projects and competitions for school girls through collaborative and volunteer efforts of STEM professionals. These efforts will result in establishing a support network of women in STEM in Pakistan.
STEM for Change is funded by US. State Department during Techwomen Impact Design Program at Silicon Valley.


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