We asked Interactive Media student Jade about their degree, gaining work placement experience and the day-to-day life of a games designer.
Why did you decide to do a placement?
Working in the games industry has always been what I wanted to do and through the course I’m studying at university, I discovered my love for games design. To get into a games design career, I knew that I would need some experience in the industry. One of the best ways to do that is through doing a placement, which was perfectly timed on my course as they had just introduced a sandwich year course that I could transfer to.
The Interactive Media course allowed me to create some gaming prototypes that I’m really proud of. But I needed a way to understand how I could bring my work up to an industry standard and gain more knowledge of the industry itself and the work that goes into shipping a game.
How did you find the opportunity?
I was looking for a paid, game design placement role but it was very difficult to find any viable options. I started to look at specific game studios websites to see if they had any positions that would work for me. After a few weeks of searching, I found that the Criterion Games studio was looking for five interns to join the team in different positions (audio, art, games design, producer and software engineer) and I applied for the games design role straight away.
What’s your typical day?
This is very dependent on which team you are working in but at the start of the day we all gather for a quick meeting to see an overview of the project, what we need to do as a studio for the day and generally kick off the day. Then we break off into our teams for ‘Dailies’ where we tell the rest of the team what we are working on for the day and say if we have any concerns or ‘blockers’ (issues that are blocking us from our work). After that, we work on our individually assigned tasks. I’m currently part of the level design team so my day normally involves completing gameplay or cover passes on an area or dressing certain buildings to tell a story of those who used to live there (environmental storytelling).
What did you get out of it?
I’m developing so many more skills than I thought I would in such a short time. I knew that I would learn and develop my technical skills but I have learnt so much more than that. Communicating in a team is extremely important. Throughout this placement, I’ve learned how to work in a team and communicate my thoughts effectively. I’ve also learnt how to present work that might not be fully finished but feel confident in the ideas that I’ve wanted to get across and take the feedback I received to work on improving my work. Furthermore, I’ve developed my knowledge on game design both in general terms of what goes into making a game and the specific practices that go into designing fun and interesting worlds.
How has it influenced your future career options?
Working at Criterion for the past couple of months has definitely solidified that this is a career that I would like to pursue after university and, if possible, at this studio. Everyone here is so welcoming and supportive which is really encouraging for someone just starting out in the industry. Through trying out different roles around the studio in the future, I hope to solidify my confidence that level design is the role I want to pursue, or find out what other roles fit me better.