Have you ever read those comments where people say that video games are just waste of time for children, plus they are highly addictive? What if you won’t simply play those games, but also start to create new ones which would become time-tested hits? Today video games are a billion-dollar industry involving best programmers, writers and artists of our time. That’s why factors that could stop the financial growth of the video games industry do not yet exist. And here you may start to think:” So, how do I market my skills and join this industry?” We thought who better to ask than the guys from the WorldSkills, because they promote young people highly skilled in trade professions. Mike Spence, Chief Expert for “3D Digital Games Art”, shared his thoughts on this matter, told us how he promoted this skill to the WorldSkills vocational skills competition and told where and how young people can learn to make video games.
The first question is about you. Why did you decide to join WorldSkills and why did you choose “3D Digital Games Art”?
I started the competition as a National Competition in the UK 10 years ago and it was a response to the government report on trying to improve the way how education, industry and government work together. The competition was a try to make the games industry stronger, but also change the way we educate and train people to go into that industry as well. The competition grew from there. So, I wrote the WorldSkills standard specification for this skill four or five years ago. And that’s where we started with the first competition in Abu Dhabi, which was a demonstration. Now what we have is the full skill, we’re growing very, very fast. This has become the fastest growing competition in the history of WorldSkills. It was about wanting to make sure that my industry, the 3D digital games industry, is vibrant, the games development industry was vibrant and what we had a pathway for young people and young talents from around the world to enter into that industry. And the WorldSkills is a great way of being able to showcase what young people from around the world can do.
So, the international competition is two years old, is that correct?
The competition, I suppose, is two years young from the point when we did our first demonstration skill in Abu Dhabi. But we started doing preparation skills within EuroSkills in 2016. Also, we did a few test competitions before. And, of course, we’ve been running the national version of this competition for many years now.
Where can learn this? Should I go to college or university? Or can I do it myself?
Where are a lot of different roads into the games industry and there are a lot of types of jobs as well. This particular competition focuses on 3D artists. And if you want to be a 3D artist, it’s a good idea to learn how to draw and paint while you at school, to be able to visually understand the space around you. The best way of doing that is by learning to look at objects and people, environments and things around you and to be able to emulate them through traditional drawing skills. And then you can learn the digital art skills. Also, here are lots of college and university courses and also online resources that you can use to be able to train yourself in software that the games industry uses.
What is a successful career in 3D digital game art? Is it a job at ‘id Software’, ‘Rockstar Games’ or my own project?
You’re quite right, actually. There are lots of different types of the video games companies of different sizes. There are famous big video games companies, of course. Working in this kind of companies can be a really good opportunity to work with people of the very experienced level. There you make a smaller contribution to the games, but you are able to learn more in very specialized areas. Or you can work in a smaller video games company and be more of a generalist, who’s able to work on lots of different aspects of 3D design, the role is quite broad. We demonstrate in this competition lots of different aspects of being a 3D artist. For example, being a concept artist is coming up with ideas, being able to paint. Another is something very technical: being able to set certain settings and things like that, to be able to render and make objects, environments and characters very believable and photorealistic. There are animators, people who make characters come to life. Here are lots of different areas to explore. And college courses or online courses are a really good way to learn about these options.
Do you play video games?
Of course. I try to research as many games of different genres as I possibly can.
What is your favorite game?
Well, I have a six year old daughter and I like play ‘Minecraft’ with her very much.
Interviewed by Timur Galiev
Photo: Igor Galiev