Alexis Evans joined NaturalMotion as a UI Artist for the CSR2 Racing Team in August of this year. She is passionate about Art and Design, and loves having the freedom to be creative in her new role! Before joining NM, Alexis studied Visual Communication and Media Design as well as Games Development. Her studies have given her the tools to visually communicate in a universal manner and understand the agile development process of game creation. Once she completes a project, Alexis enjoys taking a step back to see how her work impacts the CSR2 game from a players perspective.
Though she has only been with the company for a few months, Alexis has really felt valued and supported by her team and NaturalMotion!
“Having a company that supports your development and growth is greatly important to me; as humans we always want to better ourselves and NaturalMotion excel at the support they provide”
Read on to learn more about Alexis and her journey with NaturalMotion so far!
What is your role within NM/BA and how did you get here?
I joined NaturalMotion in August this year however I was actually contracted to NaturalMotion for over 2 years prior on the same project so I already feel embedded within the team.I am a Senior UI Artist on CSR2 and most of my time is spent on events and upcoming “bold beats”. I look at the theme/setting and come up with different visual designs, compositions and visualisations of how I want it to look through the various areas of UI within the game. My favourite thing about this job is the freedom to be creative, it’s inspiring to be able to come up with fresh themes or styles on a game that is 4 years old and rivals other AAA console titles.
Tell us a little bit about your background and what you did before joining NM/BA.
My background has always been a roller-coaster of enjoying different aspects of Art and Design, my undergraduate degree was in Visual Communication and Media Design; this exposed me to stripping back core functions of being able to visually communicate in a universal manner, which I feel is a key skill to have as a UI/UX artist as you understand iconology, colour theory and use of visual preconceptions. During this course there was the opportunity to develop my skills as a UI/UX artist by working for set companies to complete a predetermined brief. I then underwent a Masters in Professional Practice of Games Development where I was the core UI artist across several teams. Alongside the Masters I selected a module in HCI (Human Computer Interactions) which allowed me to hone my understanding of an agile development process. Furthermore, whilst on the Masters, through the modules ‘Innovation and Professional Practice’ & ‘Research Methods’, I critically analysed and researched a question exploring how user interfaces have developed through different software platforms and how it may change/keep traits depending on platform. This was done through statistical analysis and usability of a game in how a user’s experience within a game can benefit through the hybridisation of traditional & diegetic interaction. After my masters I secured a Job at Jagex working on Runescape 3, while keeping the traditional pixel style of the franchise, in addition to being part of the mobile development team where I was the sole UI Artist that also gave input to the UX pipeline.
How does it feel when you see your work in a real life setting?
Amazing! When you work on features or events for so long you sometimes forget to step back and see what an impact it makes on the whole game and it’s just crazy! It is so nice to see everything finally come together and all the hard work of the team shine through on the incredible updates that CSR2 keeps throwing out! I think there is an overwhelming sense of achievement for the company seeing the positive response from the community with the content that we create for them.
Why is a culture like this so important to you?
Having a company that supports your development and growth is greatly important to me; as humans we always want to better ourselves and NaturalMotion excel at the support they provide. We have different workshops set up and development plans in place to allow each individual to improve on what is important to each individual. On top of that the team really supports you if you ever have a question or are stuck on a bug. It’s good to know everyone has each other’s back as we all want to do our utmost and make CSR2 the best mobile racing game in the world.
What advice would you give someone trying to break into the industry?
Never give up, sometimes it’s all about being at the right place at the right time with the industry, roles come up, change and it’s always worth networking to find out more about companies you aspire to work at. Through networking you will also get to learn more about the company and get an insight on what it is that they are looking for in new starts. Also the biggest advice in terms of portfolio is to make sure that you can demonstrate the same style as the company you are applying to, this way they can see if you would fit in with their style and show that you have the skillset that they are after.
Tell us about joining WAZ (Women At Zynga) and what the group has brought to you and your career?
The WAZ group is a great support network at NaturalMotion, we have different workshops and activities set up take part in which is a nice break from work through team building and conversations with other women within the company, which is something I wouldn’t normally get the chance to do. Last month I also got the opportunity to speak as a panelist for an IGNIGHT Stem talk for young women looking at Stem courses and how it could lead them into a job within the games industry. It was greatly rewarding being able to share my experiences in the hope that it might inspire others and let them know that it is ok not knowing what your end goal might be but to make the most of the opportunities they have and learn from them to allow them to mold their own future without being scared to ask for help if they need it. I think it’s great that the company supports and encourages us to be a part of WAZ as it allows me to improve my own skills outside of just my discipline and opens opportunities that I wouldn’t normally have known about.
What role have men played in your career or what role do you think they can play in women’s career equality?
My passion for games started when I was very little as I used to play the SNES with my brother and dad so I was always exposed to games and the latest consoles growing up. Back then I wasn’t aware that it would be my career, but I think if it wasn’t for them I would never have gotten into the world of games as much as I have as not many other girls played games around where I grew up and I feel really lucky that I felt included from a young age. Within my career I think I have been quite lucky as all the men who have taught me about the games industry always encouraged my growth and taught me to never give up and don’t let any obstacles stop me, I feels empowering knowing gender was never an issue; it was all down to what I could bring to the table with my skill set.