Senior Designer, Outplay Entertainment
When I graduated in 2004, I was fortunate to find immediate work as a pixel artist with a small mobile games company, spawned from our Dare to be Digital team the previous summer. Whilst the company was short lived, this was the first stepping-stone into further ventures with other Abertay graduates. Over two years I was able to build up a varied portfolio of work in game art and design.
My first employment was with TPLD where I worked initially as an artist and gained additional design responsibility over my time there. I created “serious games” for schools and companies to educate and train students and employees.It required a great deal of creativity to expose the fun element of the game and engage players in the driest of subjects.
Next came my first official design position at Proper Games where I gained experience in both console development and the then emerging smart phone games market.
I have worked at Outplay since 2012, initially as a content designer for BAFTA nominated and App Store “Editor’s Choice” Monster Legacy, and then as lead designer on Mystery Match which continues to grow and be successful.
I am now a senior designer at Outplay. My job includes a huge variety of tasks, collaborating with and supporting all disciplines: concepting and pitching, UI design, level design, creative writing, world building, art and audio briefs, game economy, live operations, analytics, team management and mentoring, and much more.
I love working in such a creative industry. I'll always want to be in the thick of designing, problem solving, learning, creating worlds and providing engaging experiences for players. Working on products that are commercially successful and critically acclaimed is incredibly satisfying. Especially when you hear a player’s positive reactions or, on occasion, that your game has helped someone through a tough time. I hope this long continues.
I was studying for my GCSEs in 1997 when my graphic design teacher showed me a newspaper article titled “Course for people who are good at games”. It announced the new Computer Games Technology course at Abertay - the first of its kind in the UK. It was then that I realised there was a route to achieving my lifelong dream of becoming a game developer. I visited Abertay to learn more and discovered that a sister course, Computer Arts, was in the works and should start by the time I'd finished my A-levels. Abertay was the only university I applied to, much to the frustration of my teachers, but I was determined that this was the only course for me… and I was right.
It allowed me to experiment and be creative with digital and traditional media, collaborate with other students, build my self-confidence and provided the key opportunity of the Dare to be Digital competition which started my career.
The games industry continuously and rapidly evolves and Abertay and its courses have also grown and changed over the last 20 years.
Abertay is ideally situated in a city with a great number of game developers and therefore job opportunities for its graduates.
If I could offer my younger self advice, I would say making industry contacts is important. The more people you know, get along with and can make a lasting impression on, the more opportunities may be presented to you. Seek out events and competitions that allow you to meet or, even better, work with others. Some future work will come about because someone thought of you.
When I was about seven years old, my older cousin programmed a breakout style game on my Amstrad CPC6128.
It was incredibly basic, displayed four colours and had a square “ball” - I don't think it had a name but it really highlighted to me at a young age that making games was a thing I could maybe do one day.