During my reflective project I engaged with both digital design and interactive entertainment through a series of interviews with professionals working in these industries.
Over the course of 2 months, I arranged and carried out semi-structured interviews with designers and programmers from the creative digital design agency, Less Rain; interaction designers from the digital and interaction design agency, Digit; sound designers from the international computer games developer, Electronic Arts; and award winning music producer and composer, Tom E. Morrison.
These meetings gave me an insight into the industries in which each of the interviewees worked, and their response to the work that I am developing during the course of my MA studies.
I choose this particular group of companies to visit on the basis that they represent some of the best within their respective industries. I also wanted to meet professionals who worked within fields that are relevant to the work that I am doing on my MA. Towards the end of my exploratory project and throughout the duration of my reflective project, I really began to focus my interests on the use of sound within interaction, specifically looking at alternative ways in which sound can be controlled using screen based interactions. In light of this, visiting companies like Digit and Electronic Arts in particular, gave me a chance to understand how the sort of work that I am doing would be approached and developed by a company who special in these form of digital and interaction design.
Less Rain are an award-winning digital design agency who are committed to developing visually and functionally impressive web sites for a range of clients. They also maintain a working practice in which they have the flexibility to carry out self initiated briefs, allowing them to experiment with new technologies and techniques. This has led them to develop innovative multimedia products for clients.
Digit are an award winning digital and interaction design agency whose work spans several mediums including web sites, interactive installations, bespoke applications and digital design. Digit’s ethos for design takes a multi-disciplinary approach with an emphasis on research and development of new technologies and a strong attention detail with regard to the involvement of the user.
Electronic Arts are multi national games development company who currently develop games within a number of franchises including ‘Need for Speed’, ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Sims’ and sports titles including the ‘FIFA’ and ‘NFL’ series. Positioned within the commercial sector, Electronic Arts are very much driven by the international games market, working to strict deadlines in order to meet release dates.
Tom E. Morrison is a music producer and composer who has worked on numerous film projects including ‘Tuxedo’, ‘Johnny English’ and ‘London to Brighton’. He has also mixed and engineered for the electronica act ‘Underworld’. As an independent producer Tom has successfully developed his career by taking on a wide range of briefs including film scores, popular music production and world music compositions.
Meeting with various different companies during my professional practice project was a really enriching experience and I believe that it’s value to my research was extremely significant. I learnt a great deal about the way in which different types of creative professionals work, from those residing in a collaborative studio environment, working with high profile clients, to those working independently under their own discipline to produce work for a range of different clients of varying scale and reputation.
I found tremendous value in visiting several companies who helped me to see what sort of environments creative practitioners are currently working in and the type of work they are producing within the different resources and time scales available.
The key areas in which I feel that I really learnt the most about the digital and interactive design industry are in the working practices employed when approaching a new brief, the emphasis on self development and the idea of staying engaged with new technologies and practices through self initiated projects.
Each of the groups of creative practitioners that I met with, had their own distinct style of approaching a project, all of which I found to be inspiring and somewhat reassuring given my preconceptions that the practice of idea generation might be more limited in a corporate context. In terms of the teams at Less Rain and Digit, their approach to a new brief involved brainstorming sessions in which the entire team would contribute ideas and work to develop one or more proposed solutions. From here, the team would then gradually eliminate ideas and clarify their response in order to begin work on a final product. I noticed that there was a significant reliance on the individual skills and specialisms of each member of the company to influence and progress work through the challenges that arise during development. This allowed each individual to demonstrate and be known for their talents which I thought really contributed to the creativity of the whole team.
Within the digital design companies that I visited, I found that there was a strong emphasis on self development which was encouraged in between projects so that creative practitioners there had a chance to develop their skills and learn new software programmes or technologies. What appealed to me in particular about Less Rain and Digit, was their willingness to experiment with new ideas and evidence of the effectiveness of this activity is reflected in the projects that they develop. I think that this ethos held by a company goes hand in hand with working in a creative environment as the potential for more innovative and exciting work will be more greater if people are encouraged to keep refreshing and improving their skills.
Carrying out interviews as part of my professional practice project helped me to gain a better understanding of how the digital design industry works. I feel meeting many different professionals led me to develop a more comprehensive look at the different situations and cultures in which creative practitioners work.
My visits also allowed me to establish contacts with some of the creative practitioners that I met and I have since been able to receive feedback on my work from those people, especially at Less Rain and Electronic Arts. Their feedback has provided me with relevant and constructive criticism of my work and that has really assisted me in developing work more effectively.