Yasiman Ahsani is a recent SVAD alumna who now works for a well-known game developing company, Epic Games. She received a B.A. in Digital Media with a specialization in Game Design and a minor in Film in May 2017. We sat down with Yasiman to talk about life after graduation in the game design world.
Q: Tell me about your new job with Epic Games.
A: Epic Games is a video game development company based in North Carolina. They’ve developed games like Gears of War, Fortnite, Paragon and Unreal Tournament.
My role is to help the Unreal Engine team with production and act as a producer for the networking team that helps with games like Paragon and Fortnite. While that’s my biggest responsibility, I fill in the gaps for the producers who need an extra hand at managing the teams, or hunting down bug fixes, making sure deadlines will be met.
I’m really lucky and happy about getting the job, and it’s a great stepping stone for my future goal of becoming an executive producer.
Q: What did you like about the Digital Media program?
A: My favorite thing about the SVAD Digital Media program was the Game Design staff. Gideon Shbeeb, Anne Sullivan and Peter Smith were some of the best professors I’ve ever had in my entire life, and it really shows that they care. They would go out of their way to make sure we had access to every resource possible, and would even take the time to help us out outside of classes.
I recommend students visit their office hours and learn how knowledgeable they are. You can’t just walk in and say, “get me an internship,” but you can walk in and say “hey, can you look over my portfolio and give me some feedback?”
Actually take their critiques and put them into play. You want to show you care and that you’re passionate. Exposing yourself that way makes them more likely to recommend you or offer help in regards to the future.
Q: Were there any particular classes that helped you achieve this goal? If so, how?
A: Our game design workshop class put us in a setting that really challenged us to do our best. It was the reason we pushed ourselves to green-light our game on Steam, and get some recognition based on the feedback our professor – and other staff members – would give us. It was like working in a little indie studio where we had to work hard to publish our own game.
The knowledge I gained from that class and that experience got me to where I am now!
Q: Were you involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?
A: I was the president of GameDEV Knights, which is a game development club at UCF. There was a very select few of us that were like, “we will die for games!” so that’s how the club started. Clubs are great because it brings together like-minded people and helps you network at the same time. Most people in the club went off to do great things, and I believe that’s because clubs usually motivate its members to do the best they can in their field.
Q: Have you overcome any challenges during your time at UCF?
A: The gaming community is definitely a “boys club,” but that just pushed me to work hard, be dedicated and prove that I’m good at what I do.
Also, I used to lug my 60 pound computer into class to work on my projects … so that was a literal, physical challenge.
Q: Do you have any advice for Digital Media students?
A: You should be very good at one thing, and learn to be recognized as that person that’s good at that skill, so people ask to work with you, but it’s also important to be nice to everyone. You never know! That person you were mean to in class might be the next technical director at some big studio in a few years, so it’s best to leave a good impression on everyone.
By networking positively like this, people will know you as the talented person that’s also super nice, therefore probably easy to work with, therefore will refer you to other studios when it’s time to apply for jobs.
So yeah, get really good at one thing (don’t suck!), and build your portfolio around it, and be nice to everyone. Make sure to stay involved with the community as well, because it teaches you things like networking, organizing events and learning to communicate in different ways.
And Google everything!
The Digital Media B.A. – Game Design focuses on integrating the multiple domains of art, storytelling, and technology. Find out more about the SVAD program and its requirements here.
Follow along with Yasiman’s work at yasiman.me.