The People Of EA

Tom

Senior Game Designer, Firemonkeys Studios
Melbourne
Who I Am
I’m a 33-year-old boy who still loves heavy metal and video games. The only things I love more are my partner and two kids, but only just.
 
When I first realized there were other people in the world who were into gaming, I was amazed (“I’m not the only one?!”). When I realized that there are people out there who actually get to make games, and get paid for it, my mind was blown.
 
My father was a programmer, starting in the 70s, and for a long time I just assumed I would follow in his footsteps. I started studying software engineering and soon realized my heart wasn’t in it, so I set my sights on game design instead.
 
After a few years of travel, writing and indie game development, I landed a job in QA (Quality Assurance) at a small games studio. Making it into the industry was like entering a magical land where everyone is a massive gamer geek. I was home!
 
I started to learn about the games industry and how the different disciplines cooperate (or not), and I realized how complex development actually is. Seeing behind the curtain was exciting, but also sobering. Before too long a position opened up in the design department, and I started down the path that led me here. And I still love it ☺
 
What I Do
As a Game Designer, I have a few different roles on the team. First and foremost, I represent the player’s interests. Many voices contribute to the decision-making on a project – some argue for the technical aspects, others for the aesthetics, and others still for the schedule and the budget – but Game Designers should always be fighting for the quality of the player’s experience.
 
Designers also act as “vision holders”, ensuring that the team is working towards a clear goal, and that the game as a whole is cohesive.
 
As a lead, I have a sizeable say in the project’s long-term direction. I also do a bunch of mentoring and helping people to achieve their career goals. It always gives me a thrill when one of the designers on my team has a great idea, creates some sweet content, or comes up with a clever solution to a problem. Makes me proud!
 
What is My Day Like?
As a lead, the vast majority of my time is spent consulting with various members of the team, reading emails, and attending meetings. Occasionally I get time to write up the design for a feature, or to think about the long-term future of the game – I really savour those moments ☺
 
It sounds unglamorous to put it like that, but because the people I work with are awesome and talented, and because I’m very passionate about the game, it’s all good stuff.
 
Where Am I Going?
To me, game design is the perfect blend of creativity, people, and technology – I wouldn’t want to do anything else. There’s a constant stream of opportunities to pursue and interesting problems to solve, and the pace of change ensures that it’s never boring.
 
I’ve been working on Real Racing 3 for over three years, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of change in the game, its players, and the team who makes it. I’m very excited to see what the future holds.
 
Personally, I want to get better at long-term strategic thinking, prototyping, and communicating my designs visually. There are so many facets to game design that there’s always more to learn. I’m beginning to think I’ve barely scraped the surface…