Working in Games - The Experiences of Emily Cheung
At XR Games, we believe our people are our greatest assets. Embracing a diverse workforce and ensuring an open culture is key to what makes our games so great.
Recently, we sat down with Emily Cheung, Senior 3D Artist, to discuss her role at XR Games, her journey in to game development and some important tips and advice for anybody looking to enter the industry.
XR: Hey Emily! So tell me, so have you been playing games since you were a child?
EC: Hi and yes! My older brother has always been super into video games, and then I just have a lot of memories growing up watching him play games, and then me also attempting to play games but failing miserably. I have a lot of memories of just being fascinated by the games that he played, and then I think that kind of carried with me having an interest in lots of kinda nerdy things in general haha!
XR: Would you mind telling me a bit about your role? What does a typical day look like for you?
EC: So I'm in a bit more of a generalist role currently, though it leans more towards being environment focused. I work on things like furniture or objects, basically anything inanimate. I model the objects in a 3D software package and then talk with colleagues or get feedback from leads to ensure it matches the style of the project.
I like stylized work! That’s one of the things I really like about XR Games, we’re quite open to different art styles depending on the project!
XR: Great, and does working in VR change much for you in your role?
EC: Yeah, I would say that you do have a lot more technical limitations when you're working in a VR headset, especially if you're working on the Oculus Quest or any other untethered headsets. You have to think about how you make your textures and models so that it will run smoothly, but you also need to find that balance between it running well and it looking good. It’s an interesting challenge for an artist!
XR: When you were applying for jobs straight out of Uni, how did you find it? Was it how you expected?
EC: It was tricky, I actually ended up just taking a job as a receptionist initially! I only ended up being there for three months, but it was literally at something that was completely unrelated to games.. a wastewater company. So I got the job just for something to do and to pay the bills. Then, like people say, it's easier to get a job once you're already in a job, so I thought I can do this until I find something in Games. Then finding my first job was kind of lucky, one of my friends saw the ad in her uni job posting board for graduates and told me to apply. I actually didn't go to that university so it was a bit cheeky… but it worked out well as I got the job! So to be honest it was a bit of luck that I happened to have a friend who happened to see it!
XR: So it all worked out in the end! Do you have any advice for people trying to get into the industry for the first time?
EC: I would say you do need to be quite active in terms of always looking and applying for open roles and not losing motivation when you get rejections coming through. You have got to try not letting it get you down and push through when you're feeling low and like you aren’t getting anywhere. Also, I would say something that's really useful is that there's loads of online communities like discord groups and things like that, where you can speak to other people who are in the same position or get advice from pros in the industry.
There's also things such as challenges which I would highly recommend doing because it might give you a concept or a prompt that you might not have thought of yourself, which is quite fun. But also you'll get feedback from other people on how you can improve and you’ll learn how to work to a strict deadline, so that gets you used to how things are in the industry. I think to summarise I’d say that being active, talking and getting feedback from other people and also keeping an eye on Twitter/Discord groups are all really helpful.
XR: Great thank you. So what stood out to you about XR Games?
EC: I'd worked on VR before so when I saw XR, I was quite interested in seeing what it was they were working on. I also really liked the style of the games, for example Zombieland Headshot Fever Reloaded was really stylized and colourful and looked really polished. I thought it'd probably be a good place to learn and grow in.
I've only ever worked for really small teams and XR Games has been the biggest team I’ve worked with and it's really Interesting to see lots of different perspectives and people working on different projects as well. Everyone has been super open to collaborate and I really get the feeling that there's no such thing as a stupid question, everyone is in the same team and willing to help. That's what makes it a really nice atmosphere to be around.
XR: That’s really nice to hear, and do you have any idea of where you'd like to go with your career in XR Games?
EC: I think there's a lot more that I can learn currently, as I said before this is the biggest team that I've ever worked with so there's lots of techniques and tips that I can learn from. As long as I keep learning and improving on my skills then I’m happy, who knows what the future holds!