A look into the gaming industry with Media Molecule.

Written by: Mica on August 11, 2020

Over the past 6 weeks we have worked alongside award winning games studio, Media Molecule, to host a 6 week gaming programme for 10 young people.

The students attended one live session a week on discord, where they learnt various principles of game creation, from level design to marketing!

Programme timetable.

 

The mentors that made it happen. 

One thing that always excites us about working with gaming studios like Media Molecule, is the wide variety of job roles you often get under one roof. From level designers to technicians – there is simply something for everyone. We found that this added value to the programme, as we were able to connect the students to an array of mentors to work with, who not only had different occupations, but totally different skills, passions and experiences.

Not only did having amazing mentors make the learning experience more dynamic, but it also demonstrated that gaming isn’t ‘a one size fits’ all industry.

We caught up with some of the mentors that made it happen below – we think you’ll be as impressed as we are!

Catherine has been working as a games designer for over a decade and was the lead tutor for this programme, guiding InnovateHer’s through their game making journey…

A bit about the role

“As a designer my role can involve planning out designs on paper, creating levels, scoping out ideas, taking work from other disciplines and implementing them, creating logic systems or many more things! A designer’s role can really vary day to day”

A day in the life

“I’ll have a stand up in the morning with my team where we go over what we’re going to work on during that day. And then delve into doing work, it could be a mixture of things I’m working on that day, I might have a meeting or two pop up, or it could be a quiet day where I get the chance to do lots of work. One thing that is a definite though is that I will start each day with picking up my Dualshock 4 controller and jumping into Dreams and talking with my team on Slack”

How did you get into gaming?

“I dreamed of working at Media Molecule back when I graduated from uni over 11 years ago! I feel I was at the right place and at the right time when I enquired about if there were any roles at Media Molecule when I was leaving my previous studio. As a designer I have 11 years of experience behind me from three other studios, with all the games I’ve worked hard on and that experience I’ve gained it can help you show the kind of work you can create and what you’re like on a team”

 

Lisa Devon is a sound designer and music maker from San Francisco, California. She hosted our “audio and sound affects” demo which was super inspiring…

A bit about the role

“The sound design role involves manipulating audio in many ways: recording, editing, layering, processing, and mixing. Once the sounds are imported into the game, the sound designer hooks them into the gameplay logic and sometimes makes their own interactive system. In the case of Dreams, music is composed using the tools inside the game engine. The sound designer works with other members of the content team to realise a project’s vision”

A day in the life

“In the morning I catch up with my team and discuss the tasks of the day. If I’m working on sound design, I’ll open up my editor and browse for sound effects from our library. If I can’t find what I need, I’ll record something using a microphone and whatever objects I can get my hands on (and probably my voice too!). I layer sound effects, chop them up, add effects and check my work against the animations from the game. If I like what I hear, I’ll import the audio and test it in the level. Often the first version doesn’t fit perfectly, so I’ll go back to steps 1-3 until I’m happy with the final result. If I’m working on music, I usually start without thinking too much! If I overanalyse, I end up getting too focused on detail and losing the big picture. While keeping the creative brief loosely in mind, I drag in a few instruments from our collection and just start writing and performing with them. It’s a very stream of consciousness experience for a couple of hours. I usually take a longer break and come back to it, and that’s when I begin to add details and mix. At this stage I might assess how the song makes me feel, if it fits with the team’s creative vision and if I need to do any additional planning. If, for example, there are multiple states in a game (like exploration, tension, and combat) I’ll need to think about what could work for these states. If I’m happy with a demo version, I’ll share it with my team to get initial feedback. The key with music is to really take lots of breaks and come back to it with fresh ears and perspective!”

How did you get into gaming?

“I was finishing my degree at university when I stumbled upon the job offer on Media Molecule’s website while browsing for openings. I submitted an application, took the sound design test, and had a couple of interviews. The rest is history!”

 

Emei is an illustrator and comic book artist from Sweden. Not only has she released two graphic novels she has worked on all kinds of comics and illustration commissions, as well as worked a little bit in animation. Emei showed us how to make the atmosphere come alive within our games…

A bit about the role

“As a narrative artist I focus both on the art aspect and the story aspect of a game. I consult and write story where it’s needed and mainly concept and develop the art (specifically environments and backgrounds) that you see when you play a game. Coming up with an environment has its foundation in “worldbuiling” which is linked with the story of a space, all of which I find extremely interesting”

A day in the life

“The first hour or so is catching up on mails and messages from the day before & planning out the things I want done that day. Then it could either be concept & development in Photoshop or using pen and paper/or just jumping straight into Dreams and start building things. We generally have smaller team meetings before lunch to catch up on what everyone is doing & get information from the producers. After lunch I just keep working on whatever the tasks I’ve set for myself or in case something important comes up that needs my attention ASAP I work on that. Before heading off for the day I would send whatever I finished for the day to my lead for feedback & have a general chat so I know what to focus on the next day and then head off. And I generally make sure to take a break halfway through the morning and afternoon, my brain becomes completely useless otherwise”

How did you get into gaming?

“I came to Media Molecule through the internship I did at the end of my Bachelor’s Degree, the three months I spent here during my internship was a blast and it really felt like a fit so I was overjoyed when Mm felt the same and offered me a permanent position”

Charlotte has a huge obsession with video games and tests games for over 40 hours per week through her role at Media Molecule. Charlotte is Cat’s twin and inspired our students during session 5…

A bit about the role

“Testing new features, smoking builds (giving a build a once over in all of the main areas of use) for the development team to use, writing test plans so that we know when we’re testing a feature we’re testing everything it entails, and most importantly, writing up bug reports that get sent to programmers and designers so they know where to fix the issues that we find. Finding a balance between trying to break the game, and making sure that the game does what it’s supposed to”

A day in the life

“My day-to-day involves testing the Dreamiverse; the backbone of the game, that allows you to find new creations, create dreams and collections, as well as customise the creations you’ve made in create mode to make them more visible/alluring to users, it’s the menu system inherent throughout the game”

How did you get into gaming?

“I joined an outsource testing company in 2010, worked on many fantastic games over the course of 8 years, during that time I was embedded at Media Molecule and helped to test LittleBigPlanet 2 and Tearaway, I sought to join Media Molecule after realising that the time I spent on their titles in the Mm studio were some of the best years testing”

I first entered the games industry in 2002, as an Administrative Assistant at Criterion Games, creators of the Burnout franchise. In 2004, EA bought Criterion and I moved on to be an Executive Assistant. I then took a break from games, working at post-production house, The Mill, but returned in 2011 when I started at Media Molecule. As well as looking after the Molecules, I’m a busy mum of two young children

A bit about the role

My role consists of managing external relationships and collaborations with partners in and outside gaming, including educators, developers, music, tv, film and theatre companies.

A day in the life

Every day is different and that’s why I love it SO much. Lots of organising meetings, keeping in contact and building relationships with external contacts and working with awesome partners like Innovate her!!

How did you get into gaming?

I first entered the games industry in 2002, as an Administrative Assistant at Criterion Games, creators of the Burnout franchise. In 2004, EA bought Criterion and I moved on to be an Executive Assistant. I then took a break from games, working at post-production house, The Mill, but returned in 2011 when I started at Media Molecule.

Abbie Heppe is the Communications Head for Mm. She has worked as a writer and editor for gaming magazines and television as Senior Games Content Producer for X-Play on G4TV. Heppe started in game development at Respawn Entertainment building community as well as managing developer side marketing, PR, and licensing.

A bit about the role

My job is really varied – my team may be working on a big project like our community awards show or helping create a plan to showcase VR to our community. Media training, blog writing, event planning – my role involves looking at all the different ways and channels our studio uses to communicate with players and also how we make sure the team is meeting player needs.

A day in the life

There’s rarely an average day. But I generally start with a team meeting so we can go over our tasks and see where help or support or an action is needed. Then throughout the day I may be writing or collaborating with other teams on community issues or needs. My job generally involves a lot of travel as well, though that’s changed quite a bit this year!

How did you get into gaming?

I’ve known people in Media Molecule for years, and I was a bit in the right place at the right time with the right experience when the role opened up. I love being an advocate for players – but I also really enjoy content creation and Dreams unique proposition really lets me experiment in my role!

 

Breathtaking results 

With the help from these inspirational mentors, students were able to showcase their new skills by building virtual worlds and games.

Their imaginations ran wild, taking us on adventures through eery caves and mystical gardens. We even went on a virtual trip to a Grace Hopper themed universe! It was great to see their confidence and enthusiasm growing week by week.

Some of the concepts the students made during the programme.

We’re gutted that the last session of our first Cohort to take part in this programme will take place, but it’s not the end of the story! Soon we will be choosing our favourite three concepts, and the girls who created them will then be invited to visit Media Molecule and connect with the mentors in real life – pretty exciting right?

Looking at the creations above I think you would agree we’ve got a tricky job ahead of us!

And with that we have something special to leave you with. The graduates of our gaming programme have put together a special thank you to Media Molecule, Playstation and everyone who was involved in making this happen! Just keep Dreamin’!

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