News

Jobs in Games: King's Ben Hollis on how to get a job as a Lead Game Designer

Jobs in Games: King's Ben Hollis on how to get a job as a Lead 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 Ben Hollis, Lead Game Designer at King's London studio.

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

I'm principal game designer at King, currently leading the design on our first live multiplayer game - Shuffle Cats.

We've just launched worldwide, so aside from keeping an eye on the balancing and player feedback, I'm also working with the team on designing new features to keep the game fresh.

As a team, we have lots of great ideas. It's my role to ensure that they're in-keeping with the core design pillars of Shuffle Cats, and also addressing things that our players will genuinely care about.

How did you progress into this role?

For several years I worked on console games, but after a while I developed an interest in designing for mobile.

It was hard to get the experience but I managed to get a couple of years working on educational games for mobile, which opened the door for me at King.

After some time on Farm Heroes and Pepper Panic I was given an opportunity to lead the design on what has become Shuffle Cats.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

Not really, no! Things move so fast in this industry, it's hard to predict what's around the corner, let alone a couple of years away.

Building a live multiplayer game for King was an opportunity I jumped at.
Ben Hollis

Having said that, I've always had a personal passion for multiplayer, and so having the chance to build a live multiplayer game for King was an opportunity I jumped at!

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

I got a BA in music production, and was intending to use that as a route into music for games.

It landed me a role at Zoe Mode as a junior designer working on a rhythm action game. From there, I decided that I was enjoying game design so much that I'd stick with that.

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

Hmmm, that you don't wear suits to interviews in the games industry! Smart casual is probably better.

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

Make games, attend game jams, build your contacts, attend shows and conferences, try and obtain some work experience.

King's London studio

Eventually, a door will open. bOnce it does you'll need to show passion, enthusiasm, and have the ability to get along with people.

As a designer, you need to communicate effectively with every different personality on your team. You need to be good at taking feedback and open to others' ideas.

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.

Comments

No comments
View options
  • Order by latest to oldest
  • Order by oldest to latest
  • Show all replies