Interview

Jobs in Games: Big Huge Games' Brad Fisher on how to get a job as a Game Designer

Jobs in Games: Big Huge Games' Brad Fisher on how to get a job as a Game Designer

It takes a great number of individuals working together in various disciplines to make any commercial enterprise function.

The mobile games industry is certainly no exception, offering dynamic and diverse roles to thousands the world over.

As such, PocketGamer.biz has decided to celebrate this with a regular series of interviews where each week we chat to a mobile games industry professional from a different field - be it game design, art, or PR - to learn about how they bagged that job in games.

Obviously every career path is different, but the goal is to give a picture of the sorts of skills, qualifications and ambition one might need to find themselves in such a role - and how we can all learn from it.

This time, the spotlight is on Brad Fisher, Game Designer at DomiNations developer Big Huge Games.

PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a little about your current role and what it entails.

As a Game Designer at Big Huge Games, I spend a good portion of my time doing one of three things: writing specs, implementing new features, or playing the game.

Most of my time is spent documenting how new features will work by providing UI mockups, game rule breakdowns, and other important details that get used by Art and Engineering to implement those features.

Occasionally, I’ll get to write some of the code for the features as well.

I met my current boss while I was going back to school for a game design degree.
Brad Fisher

I also spend a good portion of my time reviewing/playing with existing features to determine what changes, balance or otherwise, could be made to improve the overall experience.

How did you first get into this job? (If senior, how did you progress into this role?)

I met my current boss while I was going back to school for a game design degree.

He was teaching one of my design classes and I took that opportunity to network with him and learn more about his experiences.

Those conversations led to me doing some QA testing and design work on a couple of his side projects.

He then recommended me for an open Associate Game Designer position at Big Huge Games.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

It wasn’t until about half way through college that I realised I wanted to work on games.

My first degree was in business. However, after my summer business internship, I quickly knew that I wanted to be in a more creative role.

I started doing a lot of research on the gaming industry and saw that it was a great opportunity to work on solving highly-technical and creative problems.

That’s when I decided that I was going to get a second degree, specifically in game design.

What did you study (if anything) to get your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?

My first Bachelor’s degree was in business, so that gave me a great foundation for understanding the nuts-and-bolts of how a game development studio functions and makes a profit.

I went back to school specifically for a game design degree since I knew it would give me both the skills and the portfolio to get me in the door.

I would definitely recommend entry-level programming courses for anyone looking to be a game designer. Being able to write your own code to prototype your ideas is extremely critical to rapidly iterating on those ideas and improving them.

Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?

One thing that took me by surprise when I first started was how hard it was to choose to stop working.

I enjoyed what I was doing so much that I would often go home from a full day and continue tinkering away on ideas.
Brad Fisher

I enjoyed what I was doing so much that I would often go home from a full day and continue tinkering away on ideas that excited me for another couple of hours.

I still have that same passion, but I’ve learned to step away at 5pm so that I can come back with a fresh perspective the next day.

What other advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?

I think one of the best ways that you can prepare yourself for a game design role is to read as many design books, blogs and resources as you can (in addition to playing as many different types of board and video games).

Although games are a relatively young medium, there is already a vast amount of knowledge on what does and doesn’t work for certain genres, platforms or business models.

You never know when you might run into a problem that someone already solved in a different game and you can look at that as a starting point for how to solve your own problem.


Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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