How did you start at London Studio?
As an Internal QA Tester on SingStar and SingStar: Ultimate Party for PS3 and PS4. I then gradually worked my way into my current role as a Designer by being persistently pestering people for design work.
What does your role entail?
The New Entertainment team is a small group which means my role changes as the title we are working on develops. At the moment my work falls under three categories: tools design, gameplay design and narrative design. Being able to work across a broad range of areas has been very rewarding and has really allowed me to flex my design skills.
What do you find most exciting about your work here?
Being part of a small team means you need to be flexible while also keeping the quality of your work to a high standard. I find working across a multitude of disciplines oddly freeing. If I am stuck on something I find switching to something else frees up some head space to tackle the problem from a new perspective when I return to it. It also means I have left my mark on multiple areas of the title I am working on which is really cool.
What has your career path looked like over the years?
I’ve always loved creating stories. From writing fan fiction, theatre pieces, short films, and (very badly) drawing my own comic books, to running my own Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. If there is a story to be told and a creative way to do it, I am there!
My first brushes with game design were coming up with my own rules for Warhammer 40,000 because 11 year old me didn’t have the time to read the game’s 300+ page rule book in 1998. Then making mods for the original Neverwinter Nights on PC in my teens to play with friends. The mod tools were really robust and I loved tinkering with all the variables to make the adventures I was coming up with as entertaining as possible. At the time it never occurred to me that it could be a job and I decided to turn my love for story into a film and TV career instead. After a few years of studying I found that while I have a great passion for those mediums, working in them wasn’t the right fit for me. So I did some soul searching and with a little nudge from my wife, remembered I love games more than anything and that I should make that my career instead.
I went back to university, did a game design and development course, and then tried to get a job anywhere that would take me. I ended up at First Party QA in Liverpool as a functional tester on Killzone: Shadow Fall for the launch of the PS4 which was a really exciting time to join the industry. Then after a brief stint testing the PS4 version of Beyond: Two Souls, I got the Internal QA role in the SingStar team for the 2014 release of SingStar on PS3 and PS4. While singing very badly to test various SingStar updates and releases over the years, I kept asking the designers if I could do some work for them. I did little bits here and there but when we started working on new projects I got to step up and show I could do the job full time.
I finally moved into a design role in the New Entertainment team a couple of years ago and it has been amazing! Weirdly things have come full circle for me because we are working in the interactive live action space. I get to combine my film and TV knowledge with my love for making games to help create something new and exciting.
What is it like to work in the heart of central London?
I grew up in a small town in Lancashire and only had my group of friends and siblings to share my hobbies with. Thankfully there is always something geeky happening somewhere in London. If you have a hobby there will be a sizeable scene for it no matter how niche it is.
I’ve been able to indulge in my love for things like Warhammer by joining The London Warhammer Gaming Guild. (Age of Sigmar and Blood Bowl are my GW games of choice for those wanting to know!) Spending far too much money on comic books and manga in stores like Gosh! Comics and Forbidden Planet. Buying new board games from Orcs Nest and Darksphere. Going to events like MCM Comic Con, Hyper Japan and EGX Rezzed.
There is so much to enjoy and get involved with. There are also a lot of game development talks and meet ups that happen throughout the year that have been invaluable in broadening my game design knowledge.
If you could describe London Studio in a few words, what would they be?
A place where everyone is as passionate about games as I am.