Q&A with Tanya
How did you first become interested in a career in gaming?
I’ve always loved games! I was particularly addicted to text-based online games (called MUDs) as a teenager, probably because I was a girl out in the middle of nowhere, literally living off of two dirt roads in the desert, and needed a social life of some kind! After playing these games addictively for years, I started volunteering to make rooms, monsters, and items – essentially being a content designer, though I didn’t know it at the time.
Why did you choose to get your education from the Guildhall?
Its hiring-focused curriculum, based on portfolio-building and veteran developer faculty. I didn’t have any interest in discussing the theories of games. I wanted to learn how to make levels and games so I could get a job at the best possible company.
How did the Guildhall prepare you for your career in gaming?
It set my expectations for the industry, both in terms of what a designer does on a large team and what the overall production cycle of a game looks and feels like. Although I was hired as a junior, I felt confident in stepping into my designer role knowing everything I needed. I was told my ability to work independently was unmatched and was promoted to senior designer after only three years. I attribute my initial successes entirely to the Guildhall’s preparation. Also, the master’s degree helps with getting work visas to work in foreign countries, so it also helped me to live as a designer in Norway and travel Europe.
What impact has the Guildhall had on your life?
It was the only reason I could get that first job at Funcom as a designer, as well as two other offers I declined from top-tier companies. Success at Funcom gave me the confidence to start Kitfox Games, and my level design from the Guildhall is still up on my personal website, five years later. The Guildhall also gave me excellent connections in my network.
What is the greatest piece of advice you've ever been given?
There are two ways to screw up a career: 1) stop trying to improve because you think you’re too good to learn from anyone, 2) stop trying to improve because you think you’re not good enough. Most of us fall into the second category, but identify which one you’re most likely to do, and be on guard at all times. Look up "imposter syndrome."
What advice would you offer for current Guildhall students?
Get as much out of this experience as you can. You can and will learn tons once you’re in the industry, but this, right now, is your best opportunity to glean as much as you can, where your inexperience and ignorance doesn’t count against you for a raise or a promotion. Ask every question. Put your heart and soul into every assignment, because you never know when you’ll end up with a portfolio piece.