Hello everyone, my name is Yasmin and I am currently working as an Associate Technical Designer at Creative Assembly with their console team. I work with the team behind Alien Isolation and Halo Wars 2 on an unannounced new IP.
A tech designer bridges the gap between programming and design. We communicate across many different disciplines to ensure that designers’ visions are fulfilled within an understandable and easy to manage technical structure that is also built with performance in mind. A lot of my job is about communicating with others, finding out where the problems might lay within the project or questioning when people struggle and then finding a technical solution or compromise for it.
I love the multiple hats I get to wear as a Tech Designer at Creative Assembly. I try to keep up to date on the technical side of the project to be able to communicate this to other designers and artists which means I’m constantly asking questions and learning new things in my day to day job. There is never a dull day !
Growing up, I always had a love for books, poetry and theatre but quickly established a curiosity for programming throughout my education which opened many doors for me to express my creativity with. Video games allow people to explore stories and experiences in a much more intimate way than other passive mediums such as books or films (although I do love these as well) and it is this technological freedom that drew me to work in the industry itself ! As well as a personal love for playing video games of course!
Eventually I did decide to take the leap and attend Farnham UCA university where I graduated from a Computer Game Arts BA (Hons) course.
In University, I was able to design a game based around my own insecurities called Perfection. This horror game focused on atmosphere while also tracking the players playstyle, giving them a small variation of endings and jump scares. But it also led the player to become invested in the narrative because it was based around a universal insecurity of wanting to be someone subjectively better than themselves. After releasing the game on itch.io I was surprised to see so many people download and resonate with the game, with it being played by large YouTubers such as Jacksepticeye and Markiplier and being described by Kotaku (a video game website/blog) as ‘A Horror Game that’s also a Personality Quiz’. Nothing pleased me more than the conversations that came from those who completed the game and spoke about their experiences with wanting to be seen as ‘perfect’ and realizing that, just like in the game, you can never be perfect.
I felt I had shared something important with others on a whole new level.
I believe that my exploration period before going to university helped me tremendously with building up my programming skills as well as my experience within a professional workplace. I doubt I would have my job now if I had not worked as a web developer in my early career and shown that I could adapt to multiple technical practices by making technical art pieces and videos in my spare time.
I have also attended Hackathons in the past which helped open my eyes to new ways of thinking, both technically and artistically. However, the most difficult aspects for me are still the more advanced skills of programming and mathematics. I am self-taught in coding so definitely still have a long way to go when learning about best practices and methods for this.
I would have liked to have studied programming or computer sciences in an educational environment but when I was in school there were no classes which taught this. I am so happy to see that children are now given the opportunity to learn this at such a young age. It will be a tremendous help to any technical role if they start to learn and have fun with coding and engineering at an early age.When I was still in college, I was questioned by one of my teachers about why I wanted to study Game Design as a unit as it was a ‘boys course’.
I was the only girl of that course and I had good marks. That helped me to prove to myself and that teacher that there is no “Boys Course” !
There have been other instances of being questioned along my journey but as long as you check in with yourself often and remind yourself of your own reasons for wanting to work in the industry then you’ll learn that those who say such things aren’t worth listening to. Luckily, it’s a minority of people who think this way and since I’ve started working in the Game Industry I’ve felt nothing but welcome.
Around 20% of my colleagues identify as female which is in line with the rest of the industry. However, Creative Assembly does recognize the need to improve this and reduce the barriers that many women experience in the industry. Because of this, Creative Assembly focuses heavily on both targeted education outreach and internal career development. Over the last few years, there have been more women than ever joining CA (as with the games industry as a whole) – it is slow progress, but things are improving!
It is understandable that you might still be wary when thinking about entering a male dominated industry. This is perfectly normal. Reach out to females who are in the industry already, some may be unable to respond but don’t be deterred, it can really help to get an insider perspective if you’re able to. Seek out and lift up other females who are also interested in the same field as you, attend game jams and hackathons or find discord servers to join. Being around others who reflect ourselves within the industry can be very empowering!
As video games have become more inclusive of all genders it has opened the doors to many new types of games, portraying a wider variety of protagonists, focusing on diverse narratives and topics as well as expanding to unique genres. Like any medium, the more diverse and well cultured a team is, the more understanding they will have when it comes to representing not only women but also other genders and cultures as well. There are many stories to tell, worlds to explore and mechanics to learn that can resonate with any single one of us.
Outside of work I run a YouTube channel : YagmanX. l which is used as a personal creative outlet where I have spent several years maintaining an online community built around content I create upon storytelling, game development, reviews and live streaming gameplay. Through this, I hope to inspire others to chase their dreams and give them a dose of positive energy. I also love to play guitar, write songs, short stories and sing!
Written by Hélène G.