Making games and a little bit of tea

Story: Eevi Korhonen
About half a year ago, I wrote about starting my practical training at a game company called DenkiThat post was mainly about Dundee and my initial impressions about both the town and the company. Now that I've finished my practical training, I can write more about the actual work and the lessons I learned.

When I started as a Development Assistant, I wasn't quite sure what I would end up doing. Well, I kept the office running, organised events, chipped in and gave feedback on design ideas and researched what we professionals would call 'a whole bunch of stuff'. I did QA, wrote an FAQ and raised my word IQ. I made marketing plans, banners, stickers, postcards and not as much tea and coffee as I expected. I also produced quite a few videos, but unfortunately none of them are publicly available. But hey, that crash course in video production and editing course proved useful after all!

And what did I learn while doing all that? First of all, I learned about how a game company is run. Working in such a small company, I had an excellent chance for me to observe all the different people involved in making games and how they worked together. I also got a small peek at the multitude of cogs in the machine that outputs and promotes games (and a game development company is just one of these cogs), and how the other cogs don't always work the way you'd expect them to.

On a more personal level, I learned a very good way to measure the quality of my work: if I'm happy with it, it's likely that others are happy with it. However, being known for having very high standards, I also had to learn to adjust them according to the time and resources available, especially when the task is to produce just a draft or a prototype version. The value of quick prototyping and iteration doesn't apply just to the development part of games – it can (and should) be applied to blog posts, marketing plans, videos etc. Producing something quick that can be used to start a discussion and refined according to the feedback is much more useful than slaving away for weeks to make something that looks awesome but misses the mark completely.

Towards the end I worked more and more on marketing stuff and learned that marketing's not so bad after all. In fact, it's quite crucial and more game developers (and game students) should pay attention to it. This video, filmed at an IGDA Scotland meeting just a few days before my departure from Scotland, explains more about in a humorous (and somewhat R-rated) fashion. And don't worry, the Scottish accents in this video are fairly mild and unlikely to cause any permanent damage to your eardrums.

Finally, remembering how I actually got this amazing chance to begin with, I've come to value networking even more than I did before. I probably wouldn't have ended up at Denki without a brilliant recommendation from a friend in Edinburgh, whom I met during the Engage Learning Summer School. So a tip to all those of you who want to work in this industry: you really need to get yourself out there and meet some game developers (*cough* via Score *cough*). Most of them are nice and really cool people who like to talk about games, so there's no reason to be afraid of them.

That's just a fraction of all the things I learned, but there's just no way to explain the whole experience in a single blog post. What I'm most pleased about my practical training is that I got to see the release of our long-awaited game, Quarrel (which is bit like a mix of Risk and Scrabble). By the way, last I heard Sweden was ahead of us in downloads - just sayin'...

So that's it for my Denki lessons – now it's onto new adventures! Or I'm already well into one, as I'm writing this from Berlin. My significant other has landed a job here, and I'm in the process of looking for one. It looks like we're staying here for a while, so you'll have to do without me for a while (again). However, it's no excuse to slack off, so keep Score running and make games!

Eevi is student of our international Degree Programme in Media
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