Arran Topalian

How important was Abertay in helping you pursue your career?

Game Design and Production Management played a vital role in opening the door to the games industry, which can sometimes be the hardest part! The course provided me with a better understanding of what it means to be a game designer, how they fit within a team and the ways to approach design challenge.

Most importantly, and largely thanks to Abertay's superb industry connections, I was put forward by course tutors for my first-ever industry position as a part-time QA tester. This led to other related jobs through recommendation. So thanks to Abertay, by my second year I was already accruing real work experience, which is hugely important in the games industry and especially important for aspiring game designers.


Tell us about your internship with Microsoft

A course tutor forwarded me an email one day regarding applications for the Microsoft Internship programme. Their email included one sentence – 'If you think you're good enough, apply!' I definitely think my previous industry experience, through Abertay, really helped me stand out from the crowd.

Two months and several interviews later, I was lucky enough to secure a year-long internship at Microsoft's first-party studio Rare Ltd. During my time there, I was mostly involved in their upcoming AAA title 'Sea of Thieves', and was able to witness first-hand the design, production and art processes behind such a huge project spearheaded by nothing less than industry elites.

Not only was I able to watch and learn, but also accrue hands-on game design experience across UI, engagement, progression and play-testing, so I was never made to feel like 'the intern' whatsoever.

Besides the design discussions, weekly ice-cream trucks, outdoor barbecues, meeting industry legends, fawning over Rare memorabilia and attending external workshops, I also just-so-happened to meet my wife there! None of which I would have ever experienced had I not decided to study Game Design and Production Management at Abertay.


What does your current job involve?

Following a second internship at Microsoft Research Cambridge, I secured a full-time game designer position in London at start-up indie company Twimler Ltd. The small team size ensures everyone is entrusted with a broad range of tasks they can take full ownership of whilst avoiding any unnecessary bureaucracy when it comes to decision-making.

We've recently announced Twimler's first sequel, Fruit Bump 2, which has involved a high volume of level design work, defining enemies or obstacles the player will face, how they will function and, importantly, when and in what order the player will encounter them. Other tasks at work include monetization design, copywriting, conceptualisation, QA, UI/UX design and playtesting – lots of playtesting!


Do you have any advice for students coming to Abertay?

Studying hard and showcasing just how passionate you are isn't just great for your degree, but also for drawing the attention of others who may set you on the right path towards your dream career. Heck, you might even get to meet your future spouse along the way, too!