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If you are artistic and gifted in computer rendering, you may be a great fit for a career in graphic design. In this interview, a designer for video games shares how rewarding it is to know that gamers across the globe are enjoying and appreciating his work on some of the top video games.

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: I am a the senior graphic designer of a prestigious video game corporation. I have around six years of experience on-and-off the field, and it's really been a fun ride for as long as I can remember. Describing myself in 3 adjectives is a bit tricky, but I'd say: motivated, driven, and inspired.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: I am a man of Taiwanese descent. It's neither hurt nor helped me, it has just been something that people recognize and typically respect. I've experienced a very small amount of discrimination, and I feel the best way to deal with it is to let those discriminating know that it is completely unacceptable, and that you will seek legal recourse if necessary.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: I design textures, polygons, and map environments for some of your favorite video games. It's not quite the fairy tale that most people imagine it would be, because it's typically very grueling work. Sometimes I have to work 15 hours a day just to meet deadlines. The pay off to it all is when the game goes into beta, and you can see people commenting on the work you've labored so hard on. That is why I really take pride in my job, because of the joy it gives people.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: I'd probably rate it at a 7. I'd like to be working at a larger studio with more benefits, but for what it is right now, I think I could call it my 'dream job'. I get to be paid for what I love doing the most: artwork. Even if I hated the pay or the benefits, I'd still love the fact that I'm making money doing something I'm passionate about.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: It moves my heart greatly. I enjoy reading message boards where people comment on the game and mention little bits that I may have drawn or suggested to upper management. It gives you a certain satisfaction that's difficult to articulate, it's just magical. As far as finding my sweet spot in life, I'm 100% sure that this is what I want to be doing for as long as I can. Even if I don't end up working as a graphic designer until I die, I'll always pine for it.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I was always interested in video gaming, but the main catalyst for me actually joining this career path was reading interviews from other people in the industry. It made me think, if they can do it, maybe I can as well. Thankfully, it seems that I've made the right decision.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: I learned, very frankly, how to take orders. Though the company is pretty open minded, upper management really doesn't like it when lowly programmers attempt to pitch unwanted ideas. Though it can be very humbling, you have to realize that you're there to do a job, and that you're all a part of an art collaboration; no one can be above anyone as far as creative development goes.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: For me, it was definitely learning how to network. With all the friends and colleagues I've made in the past 5 or so years, if I get laid off I can just call up Jerry for a job next week. I've always believed that it's not what you know, but who you know.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: While it may not be the strangest, it was certainly the most humbling. I'd been working on a pretty important indie game for around 6 months, and then as soon as we got into the alpha stage all the investors pulled out of the project. It was soul crushing, but it taught me a good lesson about how fickle jobs like these are.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: I get up and go to work because I know I'm making people happy. I know the maps that I make, people will eventually memorize and bury deep into their psyche. I know the character models I make might make people smile when they play the game, or when they see my textures they might appreciate how much effort went into it. I was incredibly proud when I was new in the industry, and one of my goofy looking characters was absolutely adored by upper management. Having someone that high up in a corporation recognize you for your artistic merit is a feeling I never want to go away.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: None, really. I enjoy work too much to ever consider quitting.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: It's very stressful, but at the same time, the reward is so great that it seems almost selfish to complain about it. My work life balance is fine, as I have a very understanding wife who understands what a difficult position I hold.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: I make around $80,000 a year, after taxes. I feel like I'm paid too much honestly, because sometimes work can be so darn fun :).

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: I have about 3 months of vacation time saved up, so me and the family are heading to Bermuda once this game I'm working on goes into alpha testing. For me, 3 months is plenty. It's been a while since I've been with the kids together for that long.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: Though it may be prudent to obtain a degree in graphic design, the way I did it was simple: have an amazing portfolio. Artwork, sculptures, anything that people can quickly glance over and discern whether or not you're talented. That goes much farther in my mind than any degree.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: Good luck! It's very competitive, and only very talented illustrators tend to make it far in the industry. Not to discourage anyone, but it's simply the truth.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: The same exact thing I'm doing right now. I love being the man behind the scenes slightly brightening other peoples days.