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Old 08-05-2008, 12:52 PM   #1
Roxanne BP
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Default Game design career tips (Yes! Another life story...)

Hi there!

It’s my first post here. My name is Roxanne, I’m 21 years old, and I am studying in science of communication at University of Montreal, Canada. To be more accurate, I got a minor certificate (one year) in anthropology and I will obtain my major certificate (2 years) in communication in less than a year. It is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. I did my college degree (‘cause in the province of Quebec, Canada, we have a weird education system in which we have only 5 years of high school and in which we have to attend to a sort of pre-university college called CEGEP for two years) in Humanities.

Now, while I’m a girl (and I have truly odd interests for a girl), I played Video Games since childhood. I played before I can recall to Atari and NES, and SNES, and Gameboy. I played Doom on the knees of my Mom… classical background, but that’s kind of special while girls of my age were playing back then with dolls and toy kitchens. Anyways, I’m used to be considered as a freak and most of my friends are of the opposite gender.

Now, after this boring but necessary briefing of my life, I can get to the point. One year ago, I decided, as many of you at some point of your life, to put together my interests and my career aspirations. I want to be Game Designer. It was like a revelation to me. I’m a really passionate person, and what I did just for fun (playing video games, collectible card games, role-playing games – both table-top and live) and the things I studied so far (History, languages, cultures, philosophy) was finally making some sense. I thought: “Wow! That’s a job for me!”

I made some researches and I discovered that my university is offering a graduate program in Game Design. It is not a Master; it is more like some kind of one year certificate but you need a Bachelor’s degree to get in. It seems that Montreal is a growing star in the game industry (so they say here…), and Ubisoft, the big player here, is financing many training programs. They even called it the “Ubisoft Campus”. I don’t know if anyone here has heard of it, because it’s a bilingual (French – English) program, and it is pretty local. I am a French speaker, by the way. I know my English is far to be perfect, but I try to improve it every day.

My question is (finally!): do I have an appropriate background to fit in this kind of job? I know it will be difficult, being a woman in a men universe and to try to prove that I have skills. I am not afraid of challenges, though, and I think I know how it is to work with mostly male colleagues. Do you have any tips or opinion? Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:05 PM   #2
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Sounds like you have a pretty interesting background for game design. If I were you I would ask around about this "Ubisoft Campus" try to ask former students and if you can companies in the area how they feel about it.

On the female side women are getting more and more in gaming. There are a number of women at my studio including one of the lead testers.
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:04 PM   #3
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My question is (finally!): do I have an appropriate background to fit in this kind of job? I know it will be difficult, being a woman in a men universe and to try to prove that I have skills. I am not afraid of challenges, though, and I think I know how it is to work with mostly male colleagues. Do you have any tips or opinion? Thanks in advance.
Absolutely! Your background sounds quite varied so I think you will do fine as a games designer. You have a degree (or a degree equivilent) which will help you alot!

Sounds like you might have alot of fun on this course, but how can it help you specifically? I would investigate this futher. You don't need a game-specific enducation to work in the games industry, but you will need a portfolio when you start looking for jobs. Do they help you develop games to create a portfolio? Are there close ties with industry that you can take advantage of while networking? Is the course content applicible to your interests? Why do this course over a Masters course?

Are you planning to break in as a level designer?
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:03 AM   #4
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Well, I think the program is a good introduction to the game industry for people that already have a solid background. It's a project base program, so you will have to develop a game with other students in other fields of study and you can also ask for a training in a real company at the end of the year.

Here are some details I manage to find on their website:

'' The graduate diploma in game design at the University of Montreal is the first graduate studies program in Canada specialized in game design, and one of the few in North America.

Our stimulating program focus on providing the future game designer with the necessary conceptual and methodological tools needed to efficiently perform in the competitive game industry. Game design has a central, strategic place in the development of video games. Because of the increasing number of games that are produced every year, studios and developers must come with innovative propositions that will catch the mind and hearth of players. The elaboration of ideas and concepts related to gameplays, the fundamental notions of player experiences (and its emotional, cognitive and behavioral components), the underlying narrative aspects, the design methodologies as well as project management are all covered and applied in various projects. The program successfully blends more theoritically and pragmatically approaches in the courses and workshops, bringing students to think, fell and do all things related to game design.

Most courses are given at CampusUbisoft, Montreal's and Canada's unique educational hub that gathers graduate programs in game design (U of Montreal) and game development (U of Sherbrooke), as well as college programs in animation, modelling and level design (Matane College, Dawson College and CEGEP du Vieux-Montréal). Students from all programs participate each year in a campus-wide project that mimics the reality of a game development project, supported by full-fledged industry producers. Our academic curriculum lead students to an apprenticeship in game design with renowned companies such as Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Eidos, A2M, Beenox (Activision) and the likes.

The program is offered in French only; but students can present their work and submit papers in English. ''


I'm working now on my portfolio, 'cause they only accept 15 students a year. I have good grades at school, but I will have to present a solid file to show my skills. I think I will submit some entries for the Game design challenges given here each week. It seems like a good start and they are pretty interesting.

I'm not sure if I prefer level design to content design. I guess I will figure it out eventually, when I will get more familiar with the features of both jobs.

Thanks for your answers; I'm getting more confident in my choice of being a part of this great industry.
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Old 08-07-2008, 05:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roxanne BP View Post
Well, I think the program is a good introduction to the game industry for people that already have a solid background. It's a project base program, so you will have to develop a game with other students in other fields of study and you can also ask for a training in a real company at the end of the year.
The course does sound worthwhile doing. It sounds like you will be developing interpersonal skills with people in different disciplines while doing the major project which is an awesome skill to develop. Furthermore, you will be developing your own portfolio pieces which will be useful when you are applying for jobs.

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Originally Posted by Roxanne BP View Post
I'm working now on my portfolio, 'cause they only accept 15 students a year. I have good grades at school, but I will have to present a solid file to show my skills. I think I will submit some entries for the Game design challenges given here each week. It seems like a good start and they are pretty interesting.
Awesome. Good Luck!

When are you expected to apply for the course? I only ask because I'm developing a racing game on XNA at the moment and need a designer to help develop the lore, racing teams, design racers, tracks, etc.

I've also published a list of previous game design challenges if you would like to tackle some of them!

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I'm not sure if I prefer level design to content design. I guess I will figure it out eventually, when I will get more familiar with the features of both jobs.
I only mentioned level design because it is an entry-level position that some designers are able to break in as.

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Originally Posted by Roxanne BP View Post
Thanks for your answers; I'm getting more confident in my choice of being a part of this great industry.
No problem.
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Last edited by Adrir : 08-07-2008 at 05:11 AM.
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Old 08-07-2008, 06:46 AM   #6
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Awesome. Good Luck!

When are you expected to apply for the course? I only ask because I'm developing a racing game on XNA at the moment and need a designer to help develop the lore, racing teams, design racers, tracks, etc.

I've also published a list of previous game design challenges if you would like to tackle some of them!

I will apply this winter (I guess I have until March), to be able to get in next year.

It could be great to work on a project like yours. I know little of XNA, but I have a book about it somewhere, to know what we can do with it. Is it a PC or an Xbox game? Are you looking for something flashy, like Speed Racer, or something more serious?

We could certainly discuss the matter. It seems like a great opportunity and I’m interested to help you. Send me a PM, if you want.
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Old 08-07-2008, 09:02 AM   #7
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I will apply this winter (I guess I have until March), to be able to get in next year.
Ah, cool. You should be able to build up quite a nice selection of projects and design challenges by then!

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Originally Posted by Roxanne BP View Post
It could be great to work on a project like yours. I know little of XNA, but I have a book about it somewhere, to know what we can do with it. Is it a PC or an Xbox game? Are you looking for something flashy, like Speed Racer, or something more serious?
At the moment we are at the planning and prototyping stages. The concept is futuristic hover-vehicle racing game with an emphasis on drifting. Whether it turns out cartoony or more serious is up to the designers and artists at the moment. I'm doing the majority of the programming in XNA so you proberbly wouldn't need to touch any C#.

The target platform is XBox but I will be porting it when we're finished.
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Old 08-07-2008, 11:11 AM   #8
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The concept is futuristic hover-vehicle racing game with an emphasis on drifting.
You're doing a spiritual successor to Episode I: Racer! Excellent!
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Old 08-24-2008, 05:37 PM   #9
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Or monkeys stepping on rocket banana peels...There I go with the monkeys again!

By the way, if you're looking for more help content-wise (textual or doodle-like) I'm more than happy to lend a hand!

Last edited by Kodiak : 08-24-2008 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 08-24-2008, 10:46 PM   #10
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Or monkeys stepping on rocket banana peels...There I go with the monkeys again!

By the way, if you're looking for more help content-wise (textual or doodle-like) I'm more than happy to lend a hand!
Sure, I'll proberbly drop a few bells when I actually get coding, but the designers want to do a "proper" design at the moment, so I'm just prototyping using cubes.
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