Hi Alister, care to share a little bit about yourself?
Heyoo! I am originally from Vancouver, Canada, but spent my high school years in Hong Kong. I moved to San Francisco for college to study Graphic Design and Animation and have never left. I am also a dancer on a competitive Bay Area hip hop team and I take care of my little IG celebrity yorkie.
Can you tell us what you do as an Experience Designer at Electronic Arts?
I am an Experience Designer at Electronic Arts specifically on The Sims 4 team. As an Experience Designer in games, I am typically the bridge that connects the game designer and other stakeholders to the player. I use my design skills and understanding of game mechanics to create innovative and immersive experiences for players. This can range from improving inventory management systems to creating tools for building houses. What I love best about my job is that I can play games for research!
How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
I knew I always wanted to be in the entertainment industry but I didn’t know if it was possible. College only trained me in print and publication design so I didn’t know how to translate my design skills to the entertainment industry. I remember going to a portfolio review session in front of a panel and was told I was never going to find a job with my skillset. I left hurt but was able to use that as motivation to get better. I took on four internships at the same time and was able to get the skills I needed to land my first job as a UI/UX Designer in games and have never left the industry.
What made you interested in game design?
I have a huge passion for games. Video games, board games, card games, all games! I grew up playing them and still play to this day so I knew I wanted to contribute to the games industry somehow. I wanted my career to combine my passion for design and love for games. I still have to pinch myself because I still cannot believe I was able to achieve my dream job.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
My best advice for people trying into get into game UI/UX is first, make sure you have a solid foundation in design thinking. Once you feel confident in your design skillset, try applying the same design process to games. Take a feature from your favorite game and create a case study around it! This will not only help you learn about basic game mechanics and systems but also broaden up your design skillset. Hard work really pays off and shows in your portfolio.
Be proactive and connect with other designers who are already in the industry! Just reach out.
3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field
1. Be self-aware.
You need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll need to know where you’ve been to understand where you want to go.
2. Be empathetic.
Once you understand how to apply empathy into your craft, you’ll start translating it into the way you work and see the world.
3. Enjoy yourself and have fun!
Being a designer is hard work. Don’t forget to celebrate and enjoy all the wins and losses during the whole process.
Most difficult thing about your job?
As designers in games, I feel that we have a social responsibility to design an experience that is inclusive and diverse. Many of our game experiences currently portray a much simpler world into which many people do not feel invited. As shapers of popular culture, we have to ensure that our experiences are inclusive to ALL gamers. What's difficult about it is that we are designing experiences based on how we perceive the world. We have our own inherent biases. We're not experts, yet, but we care and want to learn.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
I am so proud of you. *cries* You were able to withstand all the negativity and people saying no to you. Look at you now!
Best advice you've received/heard?
1. You need to give yourself a break.- Why do ideas always come when you are showering or really not at work? You need to let yourself hear your ideas.
2. Talent is earned. - There is no secret. Hard work is everything.
3. People’s opinion of you shouldn’t affect the opinion you have of yourself. - Don’t let other people’s opinion change your opinion of your self worth. If you have a goal, chase after it.
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn more about Experience Design?
Don’t forget to use your super power to stand out of the crowd. I was able to use my storytelling and animation skills from animation background to stand out as a designer.
Once you have learned everything you can, focus on your own strengths and use it to stand out.