Four years at Wylkomm and a big milestone in my life.
I did it: I passed my Bachelor of Science in Games Programming! Although I have been part of the Wylkomm team for more than four years, it is only now, after my successful graduation, that I get to briefly introduce myself and tell you about my rocky but successful path from a hobby gamer to a game programmer. Yes, it’s true, being a communications assistant and programming games don’t have anything directly to do with each other. But there are parallels and – who would have thought it – they even complement each other.
Like my Wylkomm colleagues, my heart is multicultural: I am half Spanish and half Dominican, but I was born and raised in Switzerland. I saw the light of day 27 years ago and in ultra-short form, these are my passions, talents and weaknesses
Turning my passion into my profession
I love to work creatively. For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed tinkering, painting, and experimenting. Consequently, I became interested in graphics and design at an early age and decided to gain a professional foothold in this field when I was still at school.
After graduating from high school, time came to apply for the various courses at a university of applied sciences. I discovered that in addition to graphic design, there was also a degree program in game design. At that time, the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) was the only public university of applied sciences with this course.
Now video games have always been my great passion – earlier as a passionate gamer. Later, when I became more thematically involved with games, I always found it amazing how complex content can be conveyed through play.
With this passion for gaming and the fascinating world behind the scenes of computer games, a new professional perspective opened up for me with the Game Design degree program. I now had the opportunity to apply for two of my interests. I would have been overjoyed with both courses, but with Game Design a dream would come true: After all, who wouldn’t want to turn their hobby into a profession?
But after the euphoria reality kicked in. Unfortunately, the first application attempt didn’t work out with any of the degree programs. Now it was getting tight, because in Switzerland you only have two attempts per degree program at a university of applied sciences. So I only had one attempt left for Game Design to realise my dream. Accordingly, I was completely devastated. But it also awakened my fighting spirit and made me all the more ambitious to give even more at the last attempt.
Not getting discouraged requires an iron will and creativity
So I started thinking about what I would do if it didn’t work out the second time. Compared to others, I had no apprenticeship or anything similiar to rely on. I started to look for jobs in this industry and think about how to expand my game design portfolio with new content. Now that I was on my own, I looked for short courses that would be suitable for my portfolio.
Seek and ye shall find – two wonderful opportunities presented themselves. I found a private school that runs both such short courses as well as a Game Arts degree program. At the same time, the communications agency Wylkomm was founded and I got the chance to join directly as a communications assistant.
With a great job and a new portfolio, I ventured into my last attempts at Graphic Design and Game Design at the ZHdK. But again I was bitterly disappointed because it didn’t work out for either one of the courses. But since I now knew that there was another possibility to study Game Design and Game Art, the disappointment didn’t last long. At that point, it became clear to me that I would continue to pursue my dream and not give up. In the end, I even decided to study Games Programming at the SAE Institute Zurich – for the simple reason that programming is a very valuable and promising skill that would certainly take me just as far, if not even further.
After three and a half years, I have now completed my Bachelor’s Degree program. My bachelor project was about creating a weather package for the game engine Unity, which controls the gameplay and is responsible for the visual representation of the gameplay. The goal was to offer a cheaper alternative to the big weather packages. It should be quick and easy to implement in other projects but still act dynamically as in nature.
And what do games programming and communication projects have in common?
Programming a game is a complex project that requires not only programming but also creativity as well as coordination and harmonisation of different work steps. The player is usually not aware of this. The weather in video games, for example, which changes during the course of the game, is often taken for granted. However, the effort behind it is not obvious.
It is the same with communication projects. Take, for example, the implementation of an image brochure for a client. A layout must be created according to the client’s design specifications (colours, font, graphic elements, imagery, format, material and much more), the texts must be written and the printing must be coordinated with the print shop.
Whether it’s about games programming or communication projects, both require you to iterate through the different phases of a work process again and again to reach the full potential.
The biggest challenge with my bachelor’s project was to implement a complex topic in a short time. And it’s the same with most communication projects. The client is often not aware of how much preliminary work a communication project entails. That’s why the briefing often comes relatively close to the deadline.
My project experience at Wylkomm helped me a lot during my bachelor thesis. But also in my daily work at Wylkomm I use my technical knowledge to give communication projects a modern and contemporary polish.
Where is the journey heading?
Now, with my education in Games Programming, I am a big step closer to my goal of working in the video game industry and I can continue to work in the field of design through my job at Wylkomm. I’m not sure yet where exactly I will enter the video game industry but I’m looking forward to a new challenging chapter in my life and more exciting projects at Wylkomm!