Welcome to the first in a new ongoing series of profiles of NYU Game Center alumni. Our graduates take varied and interesting routes into professional game-making; in these profiles we find out how those careers got started, and how they’re evolving. You can check out other profiles in the series here.
Career path: MFA (class of 2014) —> Intern at Funtactix —> Technical Designer at Digital Extremes.
How did you get your foot in the door?
I came to the MFA program with the distinct notion that I wanted to leave and move straight into starting a studio, working as an indie or being ready for a job. I’d done some job research before I joined, so I know it would be important to put myself in a good position as early as possible. Also, I’m an international student, so that puts a lot of pressure on you to finalize these decisions earlier before you’re asked to leave the country! That turned out to be a really positive pressure.
I talked with Professor Katherine Isbister early about my intentions, and she helped me figure out how to go about it. The first step was an internship at Funtactix in the summer after the end of first year. I worked there 4 months full time, and then for 2 more months part time after the semester started again. Katherine was a huge help through the whole process – always there to make introductions or give advice.
What are you working on right now?
I’m a technical designer at Digital Extremes. I explain it as being a gameplay programmer with an emphasis on design. You basically have two bosses – the lead designer and the lead programmer – but I get left to my own devices to lead on some interesting systems that no-one else is in a position to take on. I did some work on Warframe and now I’m working on a new project that should be announced sometime in 2016. I’m really happy to have found a place in the games industry where I can use every single skill I have to make an impact on a game project that I’m interested in. The Technical Designer role is a very malleable position depending on the skills you have. Being a developer means that the only limitation is really how fast I can work on something.
How did you get hired at Digital Extremes?
Basically through attending GDC. I had a chance to meet one of the lead designers at a session at the conference, and we stayed in touch on Twitter. I was actually in the middle of an interview process at Riot – a friend in the MFA program had put me in touch with them – but I got in touch with my contact at Digital Extremes and sent over my resume. They came back with a job offer almost immediately and here I am.
Are there things you learned at the Game Center that you use in your current work?
A significant amount! I’d say it took about 6-8 months to mentally unpack all the things I learned in the course. The most important thing is that it teaches you about your own design sensibility – being able to breakdown why you like the things you like to the micro-detail. And lots of practical things – a lot lessons from Eric Zimmerman’s classes : present your work early, daily playtesting and critiquing feedback!
Learn more about where an education from the NYU Game Center can take you! Visit our academics page for coursework and admissions information.