Friday, January 28, 2011

Game Design Student?

How do you end up doing games for a living? For some this might be their biggest dream. For me it was one big coincidence. Unlike some people I know, I haven't been playing games since I was a kid. I didn't grow up with the Nintendo 8-bit. I don't get all nostalgic and dreamy when someone mentions Final Fantasy VII or Monkey Island. Sure, these are great games, but I spent my childhood climbing trees and collecting weird creatures in my basement.

Before I moved to Sweden I lived in the Archipelago of Finland
One Easter I was visiting Oslo, Norway, and my uncle gave me a copy of Halo: Combat Evolved and Red Alert. These two games completely absorbed me for the rest of my stay in Norway, and when I got home to Finland I had to buy Halo. I couldn't get any rest before I knew what happened to Master Chief. A couple of years later, I had started reading the PC Gamer magazine, not only because I was interested in the gaming news and reviews, but because I liked to look at the pictures and dream about what the games would be like. What would it be like designing stuff in the game? What was the story? What monsters would walk the earth in the game world? This was way more interesting to me than playing the actual game. The part I loved was to dream it up, to fantasize and design. The game companies seemed to be hubs of creativity. They had teams of skilled artist, people making up amazing stories and then mixed it all with cool music. Being a creative child, this almost seemed to good to be true. Could you really work with making these immersive products? 

Summer at the Åland Islands is great!

So when it was time for me to go to the University, PC Gamer had an article covering all the computer game educations available in Sweden. Even though I'm from Finland, I googled them up, and finally decided to apply to the University of Skövde (Högskolan i Skövde).

I got in! Then I immediately hit a brick wall. Long story short, the post office lost my confirmation letter to University of Skövde. Suddenly it seemed I had lost my spot at the game design program. This left me with two choices. I could travel to Australia and work for a year (my backup plan), or I could stay and fight for my place at the University. I made non-stop calls for three days in a row. After talking to the post office, the administrators at University of Skövde, the head master and several of teachers, they finally decided I was telling the truth, and so I got in (for real this time)! I was accepted to the computer game development program as an aspiring game designer. What did I know about computers, you ask? Not much at that time. About games? Probably less than you think. I wasn't a gamer. I didn't want to be a consumer of games. I wanted to produce them.
During my time at the University of Sköve me and my friends made a game for the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg, Sweden
 The courses were really hard, I didn't have my own computer and I had moved to a city far, far away from my family. But little by little I started making friends, bought my very first computer and then learned how to upgrade my computer skills. There were like two or three other girls in my class, and about 40 boys. To my surprise eventually I became ”one of the boys”, but that's a topic for a whole different story.

Grown-ups likes trees too!
It might be a big coincidence that I ended up taking computer game development, but there's nothing random about how I was drawn to such a creative industry. By now, I realize how much hard work there's behind a game. It's not just about dreaming or doing all the things you love. Sometimes making games is tough, tiresome work. But the feelings of giving you, the MilMo players, a new update, makes it all worth while! Every time. 


P.S Inside info about MilMo?

Sara is the Community Manager at Junebud. She also works with Quality Assurance (QA) and social media. She's got a bachelor's degree in game design, but likes the social part better than tweaking numbers. She usually spends her time moderating the forum, testing the game and planning new events. 


  1. Amazing Blog Sara! You really made your story come alive and I was really absorbed in it! It seems like an exciting thing to do, weird how things sometimes might seem to go so randomly. But to think that everything is all a coincedance seems so.... I don't know lacking. Ah well :)

  2. Hello Gielo,

    Thank you :) Maybe there is no thing like "random"...?



  3. I have a similar background, now working at game design company. I love the work, I think this is key to making great game. So many competition out there these day.

  4. Hello Jacquelyn,

    Great to hear! I don't believe you HAVE TO be a hardcore, dedicated gamer to become a game producer. Of course it's great to know your way around with the history of video games and what have worked in the past and what have not. And that knowledge is something you could get from playing a lot of games as you grow up. But it's not the only way.

    How did you end up in the game dev industry?



  5. Hey Sara,

    Who knows?
    I do finally know what I'm going to study ^^. I'm going to the Arts Academy to become an arts teacher to teach students to become more creative or help them fidn out how creative they can be ;)! Now only to forge a portfolio xD!