This is the second part of our two-part blog (go here for part 1) where we take a closer look at our beloved industry and the different roles you can play in it. Talking to the people behind the games, we hope to highlight the many possibilities local game development can offer to anyone who’s eager to jump right in.
Again, this list is hardly exhaustive. On top of that, in many smaller game companies roles will blend into each other as there’s simply not enough people to individually cover all areas. More so than other software development, creating video games is a collaborative effort: there’s no job more or less important and collaboration and communication are key to successfully wrap up a project that stands a chance in an extremely competitive market.
The idea for a new game can sprout from many places, but without proper execution and follow-up, the best ideas can become totally worthless. Game designers not only are the primary source of these ideas, but also watch over the game’s assets and documentation so the other people on the team understand what needs to be done. The best game designers not only have exceptional organisational skills and a knack for analytical thinking, they also have a good grasp of the development process and understand like no other what makes the game tick.
Jill Van Parys, co-founder of educational game developer Curious Cats: “After carefully listening and researching what message we want to convey, the best part of my job is figuring out how to reach that goal using games or gamification. To find that fine balance between creating a fun game without losing track of the educational value.” She mentions there’s very little female end bosses in Belgium, which implies she’s often the only woman at the table. “Sometimes you’ll need to push a little bit harder to get your voice heard, but it can also be an advantage as you stand out. It’s a good thing I’m not shy.” According to her, the best way to enter the industry is to believe in yourself, stand up for your ideas, and build a wide network.
Often overlooked or taken for granted, audio is another key discipline in game development. Watching a blockbuster movie with the sound turned down doesn’t produce half the experience it could have been and the same goes for games. Sound engineers are in charge of bringing the game world to life with sound effects. Having to create sounds for which there’s no real-life alternative, they have to get very creative to produce believable results.
Music has the ability to enhance an experience like no other. Coming up with a theme that’s completely in sync with the mood you’re trying to evoke, is a gift reserved for skilled composers. These people are often classically trained, live and breathe notes through their every pore and have a deep understanding of the emotions a game wants to convey.
Storytelling is becoming increasingly important in modern video games and that’s where the narrative designer comes into play. Dagmar Blommaert, co-founder of like Charlie is in charge of designing the story and characters on their upcoming narrative adventure Ghost on the Shore. “I write all the dialogues and work closely with the team on game design and mechanics to make sure they fit the story. I also cast voice-over actors, do voice direction and edit a freelance writer that’s working on lore.” With a background in Germanic languages and screenwriting, she says she dropped in the industry by chance, getting hired as a writer by Die Keure on the Kweetet project. “I had to learn everything on the job and was helped by a team of wonderful colleagues. We still work with these people at like Charlie.”
Creating the best game nobody’s heard about will only make you famous after you’ve starved to death. Marketing has become ever so important, and while there are a lot of specialised companies to help you out, it really pays off to have somebody on the team that knows their 4 C’s.
Sophie Schiaratura, PR Manager at Fishing Cactus, is the shining example that game marketing is a very broad discipline. “I am in charge of public relations, communication, marketing, and community management.” There’s a lot of stuff on her plate, yet she says it doesn’t feel like a job. “It’s all about sharing my passion with people. I have a degree in advertising, and so I can advertise any product. I’ve always loved video games, and have been playing them since I was seven years old. When I saw that Fishing Cactus was hiring a PR manager, I was curious. I thought that maybe, instead of selling random products, I could start to sell things that I love.”
Like we mentioned earlier, this list isn’t exhaustive, so please don’t be offended if your discipline was left out. Through this two-part blog, we hope to have painted a better picture of our industry for aspiring game developers of any race or gender. Once again, in an effort to create an even playing field and put talent first, reach out to us if you want to join the #BelgianGamesIndustry. Please send us your resumes so we can distribute these through our channels. Let’s make our local community more diverse, more creative, and more powerful as a result.