Whose Dream Job?

So there I am, sat in the audience of a talent show, hosted by the school that my Mum works at, where she proudly introduces me to a friend, who we shall call Rose1. As is common when small talk is made by people who simply can’t be bothered, Rose almost immediately asks me what I do for a living. “I’m a Junior Games Designer,” I reply. “Computer games,” my Mum helpfully adds.

“Oh, computer games? Do you design the graphics?” Rose enquires.

“No,” I politely laugh, bearing in mind that not everyone is as savvy when it comes to videogames as they are with film, for instance. “I design the game itself, well, parts of it.”

“Oh – you’re a programmer!”

“No,” I repeat, knowing where this is going, awaiting the standard third response that follows in this sequence. “I design the game; I create the user’s experience, decide what the game’s rules will be, how the game feels to play and try to make it as fun as I can.”

Rose considers this for a second before exclaiming “Wow! You must have every ten year-old’s dream job!” A guffaw accompanies her words as I smile politely, trying to un-grit my teeth.

Rose always struggled when she encountered gamers who were not 10 years old.

What I want to do is point out to her the almost universal appeal videogames as a whole now have, explain that the target audience for games consoles and devices is ever-expanding, that console manufacturers spend millions on developing technology to appeal to more gamers every day. I want to tell Rose that to think of game design as something that only a ten year-old would aspire to do not only offends me, but is incredibly far from the truth.

Last October I had the good fortune to attend the Eurogamer Expo at Earls Court in London. As well as helping out the Ready Uppers covering the event and rocking with the Ready Up house band, I was also there in a professional capacity on behalf of Relentless Software, manning our stand and giving a number of talks to aspiring game designers on how I got into the industry, giving advice on how to do the same, looking at showreels and portfolios and answering any questions that came up along the way2.

Day 1: Relentless Software t-shirt, one-to-one talks.

It was an amazing experience and as daunting as it was humbling, sitting down and talking to people who were literally desperate to do my job and tell them the steps I took to get there, even bearing in mind that mine is only a junior role. The people I met were a varied bunch; some had been trying to break into the industry for years, others were considering their next move after years at uni, one in particular constantly entered game design contests to prove his worth. These are people who work hard and try hard all the time, in their own time, for little or no immediate reward; I was (and am) in utter awe of them.

I’ve always known that I’m incredibly fortunate to do my job; to work in an industry you have loved for as long as you can remember is a great privilege in itself. Combining that with being able to have an influence on the direction of games that people actually buy, play and share with their friends and family is another thing altogether, and is something I’m incredibly grateful and proud to be a part of.

Day 2: Ready Up t-shirt, group talks (eagle-eyed readers might spot the one and only MarkBOSS, and the kids with the broken Xbox in the lower left)
Day 2: Ready Up t-shirt, group talks. Eagle-eyed readers might spot the force that is MarkBOSS.

However, the key part of this tale is that among the people who patiently sat through my talks were people who were thinking about which GCSE options to take, people currently deciding which university course would best suit them, people working in the games industry already but looking to move into a more creative role, people looking for a career change after years of doing something they didn’t necessarily have a passion for; in other words, people of all ages and backgrounds – not just a handful of excitable ten year-olds. Although, during one of my talks a mother brought along two young children who probably were around ten and easily responsible for the funniest question I had about getting into games design: “Can you fix a broken Xbox?” 3

So, back at the school’s talent show, after Rose considered her words and proclaimed “Wow! You must have every 10 year-old’s dream job!”, instead of being a berk and being actually offended by Rose’s implication that games are something interesting to only ten year-olds, I instead replied “And then some!”, before chatting with Rose and her husband about the breadth of games these days, even going so far as to recommend a few titles they might’ve been interested in; after all, my talks on getting into games aren’t always about employment.


1__That’s right folks, if I disagree with them, they get a renamed as a Street Fighter character.
2__If there’s enough interest I’ll happily post a version of the talk I gave as a future blog – make yourself heard in the comments below.
3__They’re the gents in the lower left of the group photos. I’m still not sure if they meant me personally.





4 responses to “Whose Dream Job?”

  1. Mark P avatar

    I’d be up for reading that talk.

    Also I spotted Mark Boss first, so my vote counts as a hundred!

  2. Dean avatar

    Great blog. Its difficult to counter that old fashioned mindset without being antagonistic, but its important. Slowly slowly we’ll win them over. I’d also love to read your advice about getting into games design, although i’ve largely given up on that plan.

  3. Lauren avatar

    Lol, oh yeah tis Mark!

    I can imagine it was hard work to get where you are now Giles. Its so difficult to get a job you truly enjoy. Well done sir!
    Grinds my gears when people say what Rose said. As Dean said, well win them over. The Geek shall inherit the Earth. Nice work as always Giles!

  4. Giles avatar

    P.S. — It’s ok for people to call games development a ‘dream job’… just please don’t specify that it’s a ten year-old’s dream job — it is, undoubtedly, but it is also a bit more than that. ^_^

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