Melissa Larsson, alumna, BA (Hons) Game CulturesA keen fan of video games from an early age, Melissa has found that studying the gaming industry at LSBU has helped her follow the perfect career path
A keen video gamer, Melissa Larsson took a keen interest in art, sound and technology from an early age. It’s a combination of interests that unsurprisingly led her to the BA (Hons) Game Cultures (now BA (Hons) Game Design and Development) at LSBU, an opportunity that she describes as: “the perfect course to discover what part of the video games industry I’d be best suited to, as well as getting a degree.”
Friendly and enthusiastic staff
After an enjoyable Open Day, where Melissa recalls the lecturers being friendly and enthusiastic, Melissa enrolled on the course and hasn’t looked back since. “The lecturers spend a lot of time with the students on the course, which really helps,” she says.
In many universities, the relationship between a student and a lecturer is almost non-existent. That’s not the case at LSBU – you get so much guidance.
In particular, Melissa found the placement opportunities available through LSBU to be particularly useful – especially given that, although she knew she wanted to work in the games industry, she had not decided on a specific career prior to joining us on the course.
“Siobhan Thomas helped us get plenty of experience,” she says. “I volunteered two years running for Bethesda at Eurogamer Expo, and I also playtested games for Bossa Studios and Roll 7. We also did work for charities such as Lifelites, and a games jam for Buzzfeed UK.”
Making a game
The experience of taking part in games jams is another positive that Melissa will take away from the course. “It was probably the highlight for me,” she explains. “Making a game as part of a group under a strict time limit is so intense, and so fun.”
Forging a career
Melissa now works as a Marketing and Commercial Assistant at Reef Entertainment, a publisher that also distributes NIS America and Idea Factory games in Europe. “I’m very passionate about the games we distribute,” she says. “I’ve always been a fan of the games we publish, so working closely with titles I love is very exciting!”
Melissa’s day-to-day responsibilities are varied, raging from PR – including social media activity – to ensuring Reef’s games are stocked and distributed by a variety of online retailers. She also writes marketing plans, considers innovative ways to promote Reef’s titles, works at conventions, gets involved with playtesting, and works closely with the media to secure coverage of new releases.
“I’ve never had a full-time, permanent job in this industry before,” she says, “so I’m still learning. I know I’m still inexperienced, but I’m making sure I learn fast and be the best I can at this stage.”
My degree helps me though – I can understand the industry from a number of different angles – and even though my current role is mainly focused on marketing, it is good to have an understanding of what goes on elsewhere.
Coupled with the experience she took from her degree, Melissa believes that dedication is the key to success in the industry. “You need passion,” she says. “You’re not going to be good at a job like this unless you love what you do.”
Looking to the future
Melissa certainly loves what she does, and she intends to stay in the industry as her career develops. “I’m not one for thinking about the future too much,” she admits, “but I like to believe I’ll still be working in games in the future – ideally in a higher role. If I get there, one thing is for sure – my degree from LSBU will have helped me get there.”
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