Career Paths

04Feb09

On my 10th birthday I received my very first personal computer – the Schneider Euro PC (complete with color monitor and external 20MB HD). Back then I did not have games to play for the system but fiddled around with several graphics tools and DOS itself. Soon my father started buying PC magazines that came with pages of code that needed to be typed in to program a fully functional game. For days and weeks we did that, just to code a then impressive, now rather basic, “Battleships“. Soon more and more games were available for the PC, all very basic but games nonetheless.

I fell in love with them. Was amazed by the manifold ideas the game designers had and even more amazed by the breathtaking visuals (nowadays only breathtaking because of the huge size of pixels). My dream – make games.

Games were made elsewhere, though, and this dream became less and less prominent. Other career  paths were taken, the gaming industry was something I enjoyed passively at home in front of the PC or console.

Until one day, by accident, I stumbled over the job advertisement for a Usability Game Engineer. I had what they were looking for, that is what I told myself when I read the ad. I wrote my resume, contacted the gaming company and waited. Not for long, though, the call came soon and an interview followed. Two days later I was part of the gaming industry. I was a Usability Game Engineer and working in QA.

I loved everything about the job and for the first time everything felt right, not slightly off. I was watching testers play the game, recorded their actions, reactions, what they said, what they did, hunted for bugs and came up with suggestions for improvement. And then the company was closed.

So my dream was granted for a limited time. Better than nothing. So I made my way through other gaming genres, worked for gaming magazines, did the layout, presented the products. Close, but not quite.

Luckily, I did not have to wait for too long for another opportunity. Again, QA. Testing mobile games. A new area, a slightly different task. Simpler, less challenging, definitely not resorting to my brain. Fortunately, an offer came I could not refuse – do you see yourself in game design – you bet I do!

Soon, I received my first projects and was able to finally live my dream – design games. Games others would play and enjoy and hopefully find entertaining and fun. The same feeling as before – everything was just right, not slightly off. I was in my element. Doing the right job. Do what I was meant to do.

Unfortunately, the company delivered deja vu-situations and security left the building – rapidly. Things had changed, though. Vienna offered more than one company that created games. That is when I returned to QA. Less enthusiastic, because I had seen how much fun game design can be, how fulfilling, how perfect for me.

Three weeks later and I can explore a new branch of game design – level design. Today I have learnt how absolutely exciting and fulfilling it is to design a level, to come up with a plan and then to sit down and create everything. Rooms, hallways, levels. I have also learnt to hate carpets and walls but this will pass. A new challenge is awaiting me and I am excited and motivated to gain as much experience and knowledge as possible.

I wonder – where will I end up? What else will I see and learn?

Enough of the fairy tale – how did you end up what you are doing now?

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