Principal Designer working on SingStar
Location: London Studio
How and when did you join the company?
I joined Sony as a tester in our QA department in October 1996. A mate of mine asked me if I wanted a job testing video games for Sony's new console. At the time I thought it would be a short-lived job as I couldn't imagine the PlayStation would be a success. 13 years later, I'm happy to concede that I may have been wrong.
What does your role involve?
As a designer, I'm tasked with creating new concepts for features and explaining how those features will work so they can be implemented into the game. This involves describing the game rules, screen lay-out, navigation and menu flow. I'm also in charge of a team of designers, so I have to set them work and review what they've done.
What skills did you need to get started in this industry?
To start as a tester I needed enthusiasm, attention to detail and a willingness to work a lot of overtime. Nowadays, if I wanted to start my career as a designer I would need a degree in game design, enthusiasm, attention to detail, problem solving, good communication skills, creativity and a fair amount of diplomacy. Luckily, the industry's attitude to the work / life balance has changed and that means I don't have much overtime any more.
What tips do you have for anyone wanting to enter your area of the business?
Play lots of games and analyse them. Work out where a game works and where it fails and why. If you can break a game down into its' constituent parts and describe how each part works, you'll have an idea of what a designer has to do - they have to describe how each aspect of their design works. Additionally, make sure you understand the appeal of games to different audiences. Many people try to enter the industry to make games that would appeal only to themselves. The designer's role is to represent the needs of the audience and their games should appeal to that audience.
Describe your gaming prowess in three words
... Awesome at games.
What would be your 'desert island' game?
"SingStar" would actually make a great 'desert island' game. I'd get new songs from the SingStore and I'd upload a video to My SingStar Online asking someone to come and rescue me.