My name is Mathieu and I am a Game Economy Designer at Ludia. When I started studying in 2002, there were only a few video game schools in France. Video games have always been my passion, but my studies and background reflected otherwise. I studied communications, video, 3D, coding, design and started my first job as a Web Designer then as an Art Director, mostly focusing on functional design based on UX and UI. I got a Designer Conceptor diploma which is a mix between art, design and user-centricity. In my years before coming to Ludia, I had accumulated experience in communications, art direction, brand image, server management, consulting, competitive analysis, integration, deployment, even server hosting! Not the typical path you see when entering the video game industry…
I am curious and multi-faceted by nature, so in parallel I learnt to develop independently. I built my own Minecraft server 9 years ago with 3 other friends, gaining experience in the server department, community management and communication. (I take this opportunity to thank my community, you guys are the best !). But guess what? That experience,my autonomy and curious personality are what got me a job in video games, not necessarily my background or training.
At that time, I literally forbid myself to apply to any video game companies. I was worried I did not have the right experience, background, or proficiency. But the industry always stayed at the back of my mind.
Let’s go to Montreal!
In 2016 I moved to Montreal as a Freelancer, continuing my work with clients back home and gaining new ones here. But after four years, I was itching to work with a team again. This is when I finally mustered up the courage to apply to a video game company and that’s where I came across Ludia. But how do you find a job within the industry, when you are not an expert in a particular field and more a jack of all trades?
I had already heard from friends about Ludia and applied to three different jobs. When I met the studio for the second time, I was interviewing for my current job, and my two now-colleagues were very interested in my server experience, funnily enough.
They were interested in how I created new economic models, how I managed this experience, what I learned from it including all the things that went wrong. We had a long discussion about autonomy and the importance of being able to take a decision, learning new things and adapting. My interview process and the heartfelt conversations I had was a lot different from what I had seen in other companies.The job description for my current role was quite unclear and was still being shaped, thus they were looking for a curious and adaptable candidate- that’s not something you can read off a CV!
So what do I do exactly now?
You may be thinking it’s difficult to find a multi-faceted job, or that by being a multi-faceted person, you may struggle finding something stimulating and interesting, and that one-tasked jobs are simply not made for you. You may also be thinking that you need to be an expert to find a really cool job. Well, I’m here to tell you that,that’s just not true!
When I joined Ludia 9 months ago, I found exactly what I needed, aligned with my competencies, skills. A Game Economy Designer (or GED), on paper, balances out a game. He/she looks at the gameplay, at how long a character survives, how much damage a weapon can make, how long it takes to get to the next level and the progression pace. The GED will also look at the economy side of the game, its monetization, and making sure that the game remains profitable. It’s like being the guardian of the game’s foundations, like being in the middle of everything, aware of everything that is happening around the game, like a project manager. I love it! I get to interact continuously with all the different roles on the team, understanding what they do, their constraints, finding solutions with them and other team players. I help people with a more detailed-oriented vision get a broader vision about the game. That’s exactly the type of job I needed to keep learning, expanding my multifaceted skills and competencies, sharing my experience and knowledge, and not one day looks like the other. Every day is different.
The video game industry is often perceived to be a certain way. We see the industry like a big unattainable box, in which only elites are accepted. But today, there are so many different ways to get into the industry. There really is a place for everyone. Finding a company that gives you the space, the time to develop yourself, to grow within the company, even to change path is crucial. At Ludia, there are a lot of people that changed paths along their career. I know Level Designers who became Game Designers within 6 months or Quality Assurance Ludians who became Level Designers.
My tips to those wishing to make it into the industry:
If you feel like do not have the skills to enter the video games industry, know that you are your worst enemy. We tend to judge ourselves and our work too harshly, we compare our skills to what seniors do and share on social media. But guess what? Everyone started somewhere and they still having the same questions that you currently have. Keep learning, stay humble, use all the tools available to train yourself. Have faith, start small and see where it gets you!
If you have a job interview soon, prepare yourself. If there is a test: read, find out as much information, and be as prepared as possible.
Always talk about all your experiences during a job interview, even the bad ones. You may think they are worthless or that they will put you under a bad light, but they may be exactly what your future employer needs to hear to hire you. The impostor syndrome exists in everyone. I always thought I wasn’t good enough, especially after being rejected a few times when I started applying. It took me years to realize and accept that it was not the case.
The training or studies you choose do not necessarily reflect what you will do in the future. Be open minded, faithful, patient… it’s by doing little jobs, completing tasks here and there that you’ll really see what you enjoy doing the most.
And don’t forget to love yourself. Life is too short!
Signed by Mathieu Roth aka @dokMixer on Twitter