The games industry plays host to an excellent cast of colourful and diverse individuals, from artists and coders to narrative designers and studio heads.
The skills to pull off these roles, however, are complex and differing. With each position requiring mastery in its field.
As such, seeing a game come together is a beautiful thing akin to a puzzle as an overall picture becomes whole. Of course, seeing that puzzle come together also takes a steady and guiding hand from senior members of companies.
To highlight some of the brilliant work that goes on behind the screen, and help others who may be keen to dive in, PocketGamer.biz has decided to reach out to the individuals who make up the games industry with our Jobs in Games series.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?
Wesley Clarke: My role at Voodoo is technical lead at our new Berlin studio. My mission is to help build the studio and engage with potential hires, set our technical strategy, evaluate new technologies for use in our games, mentoring and of course making new games.
Finishing projects should be your goal, as finishing projects will garner you a great deal of respect when applying for a job and in the games development community.Wesley Clarke
How did you first get into games and how did you progress into the role?
If we’re going all the way back, I first got into games after my parents brought a SEGA SC-3000 home. It was an obscure computer in the Australian market with a whopping 32k of memory. Later, it was replaced with a C64 on which I wrote my first game at eight years of age. It was text adventure in C64 Basic.
My path was pretty much set at that point and I always wanted to work in games. I would later work for Kixeye in Brisbane, release several independent games and eventually ended up at Voodoo Berlin.
Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?
Yes, pretty much from the moment I got my hands on a computer.
What did you study (if anything) to get your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?
I studied Software Engineering at the Queensland University of Technology. A degree is helpful, but what is more important is showing you want to create games.
This involves sitting down and doing exactly that, learning whatever you can as enthusiastically as you can. You really need to develop a habit and desire to learn and adapt.
From there create a portfolio. When you’re first starting out finishing projects should be your goal, as finishing projects will garner you a great deal of respect when applying for a job and in the games development community at large.
What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?
Finding a new mechanic, or a twist on a new mechanic that actually works. That eureka moment when all the little pieces come together to find a core gameplay that just works.
Do you think there are any misconceptions, public or professional, surrounding your area of expertise?
From the publics’ point of view that games are, well, all fun and games. And that’s certainly true to a point. But it is actually very analytical and, of course, a lot of work.
Find a studio or company full of people smarter than you, where you feel comfortable, and convince them to hire you.Wesley Clarke
When you’re trying to find a core gameplay that works, you have to step outside yourself and think about the game from the player's point of view.
You also have to ask a lot of people to play your game and it can be painful to watch them struggle with it but in the end, it is very rewarding. And no, it is nothing like Swordfish.
Voodoo recently revealed that the company had racked up two billion mobile game downloads, what is the culture like for working for a firm with that boasts these numbers?
It’s a lot of fun! If you are the type of person who is driven to excel and always be learning about games and the market then Voodoo is a great place to work.
There are a lot of talented people here and that’s important, as surrounding yourself with people smarter than you is one of the best ways to improve.
At the end of the day we’re focused on the games and finding new, unique gameplays that work.
What was it about Voodoo that inspired you to join and continue to work there?
Clearly, Voodoo has had a lot of success in the hyper-casual space and this is very inspiring and made me realise that I have a lot to learn about this market segment.
I knew before joining that I was going to be able to focus on the rapid production of new games and it would give me a chance to “get back to my roots” so to speak. It’s just about making good games.
Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?
Find a studio or company full of people smarter than you, where you feel comfortable, and convince them to hire you and then do your best to learn as much as possible from them.
What other advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?
Be very self-directed and don’t wait around for someone to tell you what to do. Start making games now and building your portfolio. Look for ideas everywhere, as some of the most mundane things can be a fun, satisfying game. Stop reading this article and start making a game!
Learn more about hyper-casual on the Instant Games & Hyper-casual track at Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle, which takes place on May 13th and 14th.