Nobody ever said getting your foot in the door of the games industry was easy. As a graduate designer, it can feel like an uphill struggle — everyone wants you to have experience, but nobody seems willing to give you your first break.

The good news is, that’s not entirely true. Game studios do want to help foster new talent, but in order to get that sought-after interview, you need to make the absolute best first impression you can. In many industries this would come down to a well-presented CV, but for design roles it’s portfolio that takes precedent.


Photograph of two children playing on mobile devices
Photograph of two children playing on mobile devices
Photo by McKaela Taylor on Unsplash

Building digital products for kids isn’t like any other design job. You have to throw out your assumptions, forget about your own mental models, and redefine your ideas of usability. Just as designing for them is a special skill, so too is user testing with them. Difficult sessions can be frustrating, but when you see a child respond to your app or game with joy and laughter, it’s a great reminder of how rewarding this work can be.

Having worked as a UX and game designer on a range of educational apps and games over the last ten years, including…

I did a lot of thinking in 2019 about hobbies, side projects and what motivates me. Well, to be precise, I thought a lot about what demotivates me. For the last decade I’ve had an incessant inner voice telling me what I “should” be doing with my spare time, and guilt tripping me about not doing it. As someone who considers myself self-motivated, it’s been a source of frustration.

How would I deal with it? I’d double down on getting organised, writing goals and generally trying to brute force myself into “productive” time.

What did that achieve? Completely undermining my…

There’s a time around New Year, after Christmas festivities/hangovers subside, when taking a moment to step back and reflect seems like the thing to do. Last year was the first time I considered recording my thoughts for future reference and decided to write a personal retrospective and plan. Something to draw a line under the year, lay the foundation for the next, and generally figure out what the hell I was aiming for.

I gave it a go, and a year on it seems like as good a time as any to share my experience and thoughts on the process…

How do you deal with your own insecurity at work?

I don’t really — at least, not well. It’s not easy to do and in fact, it’s not even easy to talk about. Which is unfortunate given that every (decent) person I know feels insecure about at least some aspect of their job. In creative industries, imposter syndrome just seems to be part of the package. Until recently I saw it as just another thing to learn to deal with. Like having difficult conversations, or public speaking, I just needed to get over it.

Well, now I’m not so sure…

Here’s a question: when did you last use user feedback to iterate on your design three times in a single day?

It’s understandable if you haven’t. User testing is kind of a pain. Recruiting people, finding a location, writing notes, sharing learnings — it’s a time sink. No matter how important we tell ourselves it is, it’s easy for it to get postponed, or even abandoned, when time’s tight.

Enter remote video testing, the most indispensable design tool I’ve come to rely on for UX and game design. In my last three jobs, remote testing has been a crucial —…

If you’re a designer in a team, chances are you’ve gotten good at giving reasons behind your design decisions. You have to. It’s how we protect our work from committee design, opinionated stakeholders, and other wayward influences. We constantly justify our designs because if we don’t, we can be sure they won’t be coherent by the time they’re shipped.

This is nothing bad in itself — it’s an important skill. But what if this mindset is also working against us?

Because the other thing we need to be good at is collaboration. And when you get too deep into reasoning…

Kate Killick

BAFTA-winning freelance designer currently available for hire. Writing about games + UX + self improvement.

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