“I mostly played Animal Crossing and The Sims to relax before going to sleep. I never thought I would be a designer in the gaming industry.” – Janus
Janus shared her experience of getting into the game design field, talked about the differences and struggles of being a designer in gaming industry and gave some advice for people who want to enter!
Hi Janus, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a senior experience designer at Electronic Arts (EA)*. In addition to my day job, I am also a design instructor and a content creator.
My goal is to create bite-sized UX design content and tech career advice to help underrepresented groups land tech jobs in the industry.
*all the views in the interview are of my own.
Can you tell us a bit more about your current role? What are the main things you’re working on daily?
Sure, my day-to-day work involves a variety of tasks, such as working closely with product managers to tackle product and design challenges, identifying product opportunities, collaborating with researchers to conduct user research, monitoring product metrics, designing low-to-high fidelity prototypes, and mentoring new designers.
Are you a gamer yourself? Was your initial goal to break into the gaming industry or did it just happen naturally?
I was not a core gamer before entering the gaming industry. I mostly played Animal Crossing and The Sims to relax before going to sleep. I never thought I would be a designer in the gaming industry.
One day, my current manager approached me on LinkedIn and told me that they were looking for a senior designer to join their growing team. As a big fan of The Sims, I knew it was an opportunity that I could not miss, so I went through the interview process and got the job.
In what aspects is game UX design different from designing for websites or apps, for example?
Game UX design differs from designing for websites or apps in several aspects.
One key difference is the user interface. Game interfaces are different from websites or apps interfaces, however, the key principles for interface design are similar when designing for websites and apps.
Additionally, the development cycles for games are often much longer than those for websites or apps, with yearly releases as opposed to the more flexible agile approach.
Usability testing also presents unique challenges in the game design field, as most existing usability testing tools are geared towards websites and apps. When it comes to analytical tools, there are limited existing tools for games, compared to the many existing tools that are easier to use for website and app design.
Janus on her online product design class.
How did you handle the process of adapting to those differences?
When I first started working for EA, I was very curious and open to learning how to adjust to the differences between UX design for games and other sorts of design. I asked a lot of questions, played a lot of games, and researched online to gain a better understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities.
In addition, I took on tasks that would help me get up to speed quickly and gain hands-on experience. My colleagues at EA were also a valuable resource, as they were willing to share their knowledge and tips with me, which helped me to quickly understand the nuances of UX design in games.
I also sought to learn from others outside of the company by attending UX conferences and networking events. This helped me to gain a broader perspective on the industry and stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices in UX design.
What would your advice be for someone who wants to enter the gaming industry as a UX designer?
My advice for someone who wants to enter the gaming industry as a UX designer would be:
- Learn about the fundamentals of user experience design, such as research, design, and testing
- Play a lot of games and become familiar with a variety of genres, platforms, and mechanics
- Become familiar with software and tools used by game designers, such as Adobe Creative Suite, Figma, and Unity
- Connect with industry professionals and build relationships
- Keep up with the latest trends and best practices in the gaming industry
What do you think is the future of game UX? What do you think will change? Are there any upcoming trends you notice?
The rising use of virtual and augmented reality is one of the most significant trends. We should expect to see more games that employ VR and AR technologies as these immersive technologies advance, allowing game developers to build more compelling and interactive user experiences.
A second trend is the increasing focus on player engagement and retention. In the era of free-to-play and live service games, it has become increasingly important to keep players engaged and returning to the game. I anticipate seeing more games that include elements of sociability, customisation, and advancement.
Accessibility is another significant trend. The number of games with features like control remapping, configurable difficulty levels, text-to-speech, and color blindness support is expected to increase.
You have so many projects you’re working on and you still manage to create content for your IG blog, that’s impressive! How and when did you start it and do you feel it had an impact on your career?
Thank you 🙂
I started creating content online roughly a year ago. As a design mentor and instructor, I noticed many new designers asking similar questions. To save time and help more people, I decided to start creating content to answer those questions. It gives me a lot of joy to watch others enjoy and learn from my stuff.
Through content creation, I have been able to improve my own design skills, meet a lot of like-minded designers from all around the world, and even gain job and interview opportunities.
Follow Janus on Instagram.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the UX/tech industry?
Being a woman in the UX/tech industry allows me to bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. I can make an impact and shape its future. Additionally, I was honored to be a mentor for other women and girls who are interested in pursuing careers in the field.
What is your message to other people in the UX industry?
Designing user experiences can be challenging, but it can also be extremely rewarding. It is critical to continue pushing limits, detaching instances, taking risks, and being willing to try new things.