Interviewing Simon Andersen - Internship during COVID-19
Let me introduce Simon Andersen! Simon studies Level Design at The Game Assembly Malmö and is currently doing his level design internship remotely at Respawn Entertainment. Simon’s curiosity for level design has led him to explore level design in multiple game genres as well as his level submission for Human: Fall Flat won first prize in a level design competition arranged by Curve Digital and No Brake Games.
Seeing how the pandemic has changed the industry with increased remote connections Simon’s situation shows a great example of the current opportunities in the industry around the globe for up and coming developers.
Simon, please tell us a bit about yourself. What made you choose games as a career and level design as a niche?
Simon: So I think as with most gamedevs, video games have been a passion and a hobby ever since childhood. There was never really a moment when I realized “this is it!”, but in hindsight I really liked to create my own experiences in games that featured a built in level creator such as LittleBigPlanet. At some point in my teenage years I found game- and level design super fascinating, applied to The Game Assembly and here we are!
How did you land an internship position at Respawn Entertainment?
Simon: As part of our program we do get assistance in developing our portfolios to pursue internships. We have a meet-n-greet event where a lot of studios that are looking for interns take a look at our websites and we get to chit chat with them for a while. It’s a great opportunity to network and put yourself out there.
However I was a very special case because I actually posted my portfolio on Twitter where it garnered a lot of attention. The piece in question was inspired by Titanfall 2, and so one industry veteran dropped a comment saying “This is looking great!” followed by “Have you seen this?” and @ing the lead level designer of the Star Wars team at Respawn, Jeff Magers. He contacted me and we took it from there.
Do you think this opportunity would have presented itself if it weren’t for the current (social distancing) state of the world?
Simon: No matter what the situation in the world was, I really wouldn’t be able to be transferred to the US directly from Sweden. There are way too many hurdles to overcome. In that sense, perhaps my timing was very lucky. Though I think the industry is now learning and adapting to employees working from home, no matter where in the world they might live. And so in the future I’m hopeful studios might be more accepting to hiring internationally.
What advice or tips would you give anyone looking for an internship today?
Simon: First and foremost is an eye-catching portfolio. Texts describing in detail all the work you have done can be good because it shows that you’re thorough, but most people will sadly just quickly scroll through your work. Images, gifs and short videos are much more likely to actually be witnessed by whoever stumbled upon your website. Keep it simple, clean, concise and to-the-point. Is your contact info easy to find? And don’t be shy to get out there! Send emails to all kinds of studios, all across the world, even the ones that aren’t looking for your specific type of work. The worst thing that can happen is that they don’t reply. You might just be too good to pass up on, or perhaps your passion for their company is enticing enough for them to want to speak further.
Huge thanks to Simon for sharing parts of his adventure and thoughts with us. For more inspiration you can find Simon’s portfolio here: https://simon-ia.com/