Welcome to our latest NFTS story, a series of blogs featuring our alumni talking about where they were before they came to the School and where they are now (follow the series by using the #NFTSStories hashtag across Twitter and Instagram). Hannah Burdett just graduated from the NFTS Games Design and Development MA in February and already landed a job in the industry as a Junior Project Manager for a games company called Scary Beasties. Hannah is not alone – a fantastic 90% of this year’s Games Design graduates are already working in the industry!
Tell us about your new role: I recently started a new role as a Junior Project Manager for a games company called Scary Beasties. It's a small team of only 9 people, and we do a mix of commission based work and original IPs. developing mobile apps, web games and lots of augmented reality apps. My job is to help the company and the team keep on top of the workload - we often have a dozen projects going on at any one time! I'm there to make sure work is being prioritised correctly and that no deadlines are forgotten. I also do a lot of liaising with our client base - we have weekly meetings with some clients to keep them updated on progress, and of course a lot of stuff is done via email, so I write quite a lot of emails!
What is a typical day like? One of the things I love about working at Scary Beasties is every day is different! One day I might be testing out a new update for our augmented reality app, Block My World, another I'm in a pitch meeting discussing new ideas for projects. Pretty much every day though involves lots of written work - whether that's sending emails, making spreadsheets, or updating workloads and tasks on Jira. As we do a lot of children's games at the company, I also spend a lot of time researching the brands we're working with, which often means watching a lot of children's television! That's always a fun part of the day.
Can you tell us about any projects you’re working on? I'm doing a lot of work on our new original IP app called Block My World. It's an iOS app that uses ARKit to create virtual planes on top of the real world. You can then select a variety of blocks, like cubes or dominoes, and place them in the AR space to build loads of digital creations. It's really up to your own imagination what you want to create. It's only just been released, so lots more updates still to come, but we were recently featured on the Apple app store which is incredible. The best part is it's free, so please do give it a try! We also do a lot of work with the BBC in particular, and recently won a BAFTA for the Hey Duggee Counting Badge which was a really proud moment for the team.
How has your time on the Games course helped you with your career? The games course at the NFTS is so vital to my success in my job. The course is so practical and so hands on, it makes it so much easier to understand and communicate with all team members, from designers to developers. I've learnt a little bit of almost every aspect of game development, and I think it's crucial for a manager to understand what it is that they're team members do so that they can best help. As well as the practical skills of developing game projects, we were also taught so much about the wider industry. I received so much help when applying for jobs, how to network, and gained a huge list of contacts that will be useful for years to come. I was actually recommended for my current job by a fellow NFTS graduate, so I really wouldn't have got the job if it wasn't for the NFTS!
Why would you recommend the Games Design and Development MA? I couldn't recommend the games course enough to anyone who is serious about a career in the games industry. It really gives you an edge as a graduate - I know some games courses where, by the end, students have produced maybe 1 or 2 finished games. I must've made over a dozen games in my 2 years at the NFTS! I have a huge and varied portfolio, and I had the space to specialise in what I'm really passionate about, which for me is learning games. I really feel that my hard work paid off, and that the skills I've learnt will be invaluable for years to come.
What advice would you give an aspiring NFTS student? My advice to anyone thinking about applying to the NFTS would be to stop hesitating and give it a go! The tutoring the NFTS provides, as well as all the masterclasses and meeting industry professionals just cannot be found elsewhere. I've found the school as a whole, but particularly the games department, to be incredibly supportive. The interview was relaxed and I felt that they were interested in what I was saying. There's a lot of respect at the NFTS for people who work hard - how much effort you put in is up to you, but those who turn up and ask questions and keep learning will find that help is there if they need it. Being a student at the NFTS is a great time to try new things out, so always give it a go! Failure is part of the learning process, and I've learnt just as much from what didn't work as from what did. Perhaps even more!
If you were stranded on a desert island, which film, TV boxset or video game would you take? If I were stranded on a desert island, I think I would want to take an online game so that I could still have some form of human contact! Is that cheating? My favourite online game is Don't Starve Together, and actually is a game about survival so I guess it's quite fitting. If I couldn't take an online game though, I think I'd take Dragon Age: Origins. It's one of the first games I very seriously got into, and though it's quite old now I still adore it.
For more information about the NFTS Games Design and Development MA, please visit www.nfts.co.uk/games