If you or your geeklings harbor dreams of working as a video-game developer, here’s the inside scoop from three producers of The Malgrave Incident, the latest Mystery Case Files game and the series’ first title for the Wii.
Nintendo’s Azusa Tajima and Masa Miyazaki, along with producer Shawn Seavers and the team from Big Fish Games fielded GeekMom’s questions about what it takes to make it in their line of work and what skills aspiring designers and producers should bring to the table.
GeekMom: What kinds of college programs/majors are best for people interested in working in video-game development?
Big Fish Games: In general, choose a particular skill that interests you the most, but be sure to gain as much exposure to the other areas of game development as you can. For example, if you’re studying programming, make sure to take classes in art and design. Try to be well-rounded because everything is connected.
Nintendo: It is hard to say which college programs/majors are best because it takes a variety of people in different professions and skills to develop a video game, but if you like programming and you’re interested in developing a video game, we would recommend trying your best to become an excellent programmer first. On the other hand, we feel that it is also important to expose yourself to various different activities and experiences in your everyday life. Not many people know this, but there is an accredited 4-year college devoted to educating people in video-game development. Students can earn Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees, and there is also a Master’s program in computer science. Kids who are seriously interested in making a career in the video game industry should check out DigiPen Institute of Technology, based a short distance from Nintendo of America’s headquarters in Redmond, WA.
GM: What type of internship or summer job experience would help, given that video-game company internships might be geographically impossible for a lot of kids?
Big Fish Games: This is a tough one due to geographical limitations. If there are simply no game companies nearby, you could consider web development work. This combines planning and technical skills with art and design sensibilities. You could also create several smaller games or concept proofs to show that you have the creativity and the drive to create fun experiences. Creating games in Flash is another way to demonstrate creativity and technical prowess.
GM: Beyond an interest in gaming, what skills/aptitudes make a great video-game developer?
Big Fish Games: The best games are often the simplest ideas. Having an ability to identify the source of something that is “fun” is very important.
Nintendo: We would say that the ability of seeing things from different angles/perspectives is key to a great video-game developer and innovation.
GM: Can you describe the different jobs available at a company like Big Fish? What is the corporate culture like?
Big Fish Games: One look at the careers page on our website and you’ll see that we’re a diverse, customer-orientated company with a lot of different needs. There’s a need for business, production, engineering, accounting, and customer support just to name a few! The culture here is great. There are so many talented people here who value collaboration and open, honest communication. We’ve got a beautiful office located on the shores of Elliott Bay in Seattle. We’ve got teams for soccer, bowling, volleyball, softball… It’s not uncommon to see people playing board games at lunch–or someone zipping by on kick scooter! There’s definitely a culture of fun, and I think it shows in everything we do.