After joining our London studio remotely amid the lockdown, Zainab Khan has been a Junior Game Designer on the CSR2 Racing team since the end of May. With an Undergraduate and Master’s degree in Games Design, she has been able to mix her knowledge with on-the-job practice to create in-game events and generate creative solutions. As well as being an ambitious and hard-working team member, she also got to witness the gender divide in the games industry during her university studies, inspiring her to go further and find herself in a place where she feels her potential is limitless.
Read on to learn more about Zainab’s remarkable journey with us so far.
What is your role within NM/BA?
I’m a Junior Game Designer at NaturalMotion CSR Racing team in London. My role is to help create events for CSR2 as well as coming up with design solutions and ideas. My job also involves documentation and playtesting the work created both individually and as a group. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to NM/BA. My passion for video games has been with me for quite a long time, as I remember Sonic being my first ever game which I played on my SEGA console. The years-long curiosity for gaming has driven me to join this field and led to me completing my undergrad and master’s studies in Games Design. Luckily for me, I got called for an interview at NM just before the lockdown began, and I eventually joined the studio by the end of May, so I haven’t been here for too long.
Since starting with NM/BA, how has your own growth and development progressed?
I’ve been feeling more motivated, focused and ambitious since joining the studio. Although the experience of studying at a university helps, I’m still learning new things every day while here. The onboarding process and what followed it has been so smooth that I didn’t even realise it when I ended up creating my first in-game event, and now I’m slowly making my way to developing more. I’m also learning how to pitch new design ideas to the team while keeping the feasibility in my mind. So yes, the studio and the team are slowly helping me understand my potential.
How would you describe the people within NM/BA?
The team and everyone around here are very friendly, smart and quite humble. They are always available to provide help or guidance when asked. Everyone’s opinion equally matters, and it’s always a top priority for everyone to keep all of our designs player-friendly.
Why is a culture like this so important to you?
The culture at the studio promotes being creative, supportive and keeping things transparent and on track thanks to frequent meetings. This kind of environment is quite important for creating a successful feature or a game, because these factors provide creative freedom to developers. Although I’ve only joined recently, I see this happening on a regular basis.
What would someone be surprised to learn about your company or profession?
Not many are able to properly understand the games industry and the work it involves. The majority see the work done in this area as either “too easy” or “too difficult,” placing their perceptions on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Especially when it comes to game design, a lot of people don’t understand that our job is not simply coding or making art, but creating the very essence of a feature while ensuring it’s logical and balanced out. The actual development can only begin when the blueprint of a game is ready. Game development teams are also very tightly-knit, which basically means that not a single department can function without the other when working on the final product. So yes, it may come as a surprise to many as to how the industry functions.
What are you most proud of working on the game?
I recently created a small event for the game and I’m looking forward to it launching!
What does it mean to you to be a woman in technology and gaming?
During my school years, I wasn’t aware of the fact that certain fields were dominated by a certain gender, nor did I know that the number of women was low in comparison to that of men in some fields. It was only after I started my undergrad studies did I realise that I was the only girl in my year’s batch. I was quite surprised, and also slightly disappointed. There were still a few girls amongst my seniors, but then again the ratio never seemed right. When I started my masters, I was quite happy to see that there were more women involved. NM takes care of this issue quite elegantly, as the studio, and especially my team, comprises a lot of women, and each and every one of us works hard and collaboratively to make CSR2 even better.