Lately, our game development studio class has been working towards our second task. Our teachers have been pressing us to know for certain where we specifically want to take our careers. I want to be a Creative Director/Lead Designer, and I thought I should share with you why.

As I’ve grown, games have become the purest form of escapism that I know. Forgetting real life is one thing, but the true power that games have is their ability to bring a player into a world, to enable them to experience something that they’ve never experienced before. The Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises let players authentically express their sexuality when they couldn’t safely or comfortably do so in the real world. It’s one thing to see yourself in a game, but another to BE yourself in a game. Games like Gone Home and Dys4ia have opened the door to new and unknown pathways simply by putting me at the heart of them. The escapism from reality is where games shine, and enabling players to learn or express ideas as they play give games their influence.

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Mass Effect 3 – One of few games that as a gay man, allowed me to express my sexuality as a badass soldier in a wondrous sci-fi world.

The heart of my creative direction stems from asking myself what I want my games to say to their players. I want my games to express ideas and to challenge perspectives, and I want to utilise the interactive nature of games to enable self-expression, self-reflection, and influence substantial change for the greater good. I want to build positive role models for all players, no matter their heritage. In my career, I want to create games that inspire the community, and games that grow the community as a force for good. I think games can make the world a better place, and I want to be a part of that.

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Bioshock – an excellent example of beautiful direction by Ken Levine. Story, game-play, art, and music are all married together unforgettably

I am passionate about all aspects of game development – audio, art, gameplay, and story, and I believe that all of them have such a strong ability to bring a game to life. Just like how a movie’s costume, set, lighting, audio, dialogue, camera angling and screenplay all work for a single creative vision, I believe that strong creative direction will make a game’s experience meaningful and cohesive.

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Dys4ia, a game which eloquently marries its mechanics with its story; mechanics as metaphor

Career journeys are never straight forward, and Creative Directors are senior enough that I’ll need over a decade of experience working towards my dream. In the meantime, I need to develop a robust game design and team management skill sets. Through working in design disciplines, I will build my portfolio developing a variety of exciting games, in addition to working amongst a diverse range of people. The second facet of this career path is to grow as a project manager or producer. By managing larger and larger teams of people, I’ll learn from my mistakes and acquire the best practices for agile and fruitful project managers & producers. Proving myself as a designer, director and manager will enable me to take on significant responsibilities and stretch my skill sets even further into creating larger games with bigger teams.

Concerning design, by starting small in a narrower discipline – such as encounter or level design – I can hone my design skills for moment-t0-moment gameplay. In furthering my career, I can move into broader and broader design aspects, into gameplay and fully fledged game design. The key of this journey is to learn as much in every discipline as possible, which will inform my design experience further down the road. To build to my end goal, I need to be able to articulate my design and vision for teams of people; a skill I will build upon through time and practice. In the end, I want to be able to use audio and art to inform my designs and to apply my creative vision to the team – a skill which will come through practice.

At this stage in my career, I can start by participating in game jams and making projects in my own time. I’ve participated in two Make a Thing game jams so far and plan on attending more in addition to the Global Game Jam in January 2017. Working in small teams and independently on small projects will put into perspective the various aspects of building a game from start to finish, especially under the pressure of limited time. Continuing to work in game jams while my skills develop in my degree will allow me to apply my growing knowledge to small-scale projects with the goal of accelerating my ability to iterate and refine a game and its systems. By engrossing myself in all aspects of game development, I can learn as much as I can, and be a better developer. Knowledge is key, and taking advantage of the range of tools available to developers will let me make better games, more easily.

 

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