BSc Computer & Video Games students Jessica Lea and Stephanie McLean spent their summer on an internship at Big Brand Ideas where they developed a mobile game within a month. Here they talk about their course, experiences and internship:

How has your course helped you with your internship at Big Brand Ideas?

Jess: The course focuses on preparing us for future employment. I’ve learned about workflow practices as well as the use of industry-standard software. What I experienced on the course was definitely applicable to my internship at Big Brand Ideas. Like the course, BBI is full of people from different disciplines working together, which helped greatly at my time here.

Steph: The course taught me a broad selection of creative practices and production methods. It has given me the chance to think openly with my ideas and use appropriate methodologies to help refine the processes required in order to create a video game. I feel like I have a better understanding of bringing my thoughts together from loose drafts to refined, finalised pieces.

Did the University help you get your internship?

Steph: One of our tutors, Juan Hiriart, put me and Jess forward during the beginning of the summer holidays as he used to work with a few of the people at Big Brand Ideas – luckily a meeting was quickly put in place and we pretty much took it from there!

What made you want to design video games?

Steph: I started studying Games Development at college at the Confetti Institute of Creative Technology in Nottingham. Just like many other video game creatives in the making, my passion for games has been around since I was a child and game design started to properly grow from there.

Jess: I have always loved video games, and always played them. My interest in designing video games started because in the last 10 years or so the definition of what a video game actually is and can be has changed dramatically. Gaming has become far more mainstream and the rise of experimental games, made by small studios who explore interesting ways to tell stories and new concepts is what fascinates me most.

Photo of Jess and Steph in the Big Brand Ideas office
Jess and Steph created a platform game as part of their internship with Big Brand Ideas.

Do you believe more women should pursue a career in game design?

Steph: Definitely. I cannot preach this enough. The digital era is booming with so many opportunities, especially in video games. I believe that this area shouldn’t be gender specific because everyone is capable of doing whatever it is they want to pursue if you put your mind to it. I would love to see more women work in this area – don’t let gender put you off because you will always find something good out of something you’re passionate about it!

Jess: 100%. I can understand why some would be averse to taking a video games degree or trying to start a career in the industry, after all, it does feel like a boys’ club sometimes due to the disparity in numbers, but I don’t believe this should deter anyone at all.

What was the most challenging part of your internship?

Steph: The programming has been the most challenging aspect by far. Luckily, the course at University has a programming module which we were required to do during our first year, this definitely gave me a head start with the internship.

Jess: The coding! On the course, I specialise as an artist and project manager, and we both decided we would do the coding with assistance from the development team from BBI. To say this was a steep learning curve would be an understatement! Luckily the development team were always on hand to help us when we struggled, me especially!

What was your feeling when your game was completed?

Jess: It felt amazing. Honestly, to watch people play a game that I had a hand in creating is fantastic, and for them to actually enjoy it too is incredible! Making a game that’s had a proper release has given me so much confidence going into my final year too.

Steph: You really can’t put your finger on it after all that hard work. To finally see the outcome is definitely satisfying. For it to be passed onto social media platforms and published through BBI is something I can say I am proud of.

Screenshot from mobile game
Making and releasing a game has given Jess and Steph excellent experience for their future careers in game design.

Has your internship given you inspiration for future projects?

Jess: Definitely! Working in a professional environment really opens your eyes to what is expected of you. It has given me the experience I need to really push myself and my team for our final year project.

Steph: More than anything. Being able to work with different projects aside from the video games related projects has improved my workflow in terms of multi-tasking, meeting deadlines and being consistent, so I have no doubt that I will be able to channel those skills towards my final year.

Will you be able to use your internship as the first step on the career ladder?

Steph: I’d like to think so! To be able to say that me and Jess managed to design and code a game is a big step forwards. It’s definitely something we can put on our CV and I’m sure we’ll get something positive out of it.

Jess: I certainly hope so! It’s a very competitive field, and most companies require you to have industry experience, so spending the summer at Big Brand Ideas has not only been an amazing learning experience but also valuable for my CV.

What are your plans for future employment?

Steph: My aim is to get back into the freelancing area, or if possible get some part-time work as a Graphic/Games Designer whilst doing my 3rd year. I’ll be aiming to apply for a variety of game studios around the world. I’m hoping something good will happen out of that, whatever that may be!

Jess: Ideally, I’d love to set up my own game development company. However I know I won’t be able to that straight away! I’m just going to try and get as much experience as possible in art, design and project management and see how it goes. At this point I want to keep my options open!