“You don’t need a specific skill set to try something new. All you need is the desire and curiosity to learn. You will develop the skills once you start pursuing it,” Sarah D’souza, Senior Game Designer at BYJU’S, says, explaining why nothing should stop you from exploring a new field.
“You don’t have to stop yourself from doing something just because you don’t come from a certain educational background. When I was studying, there wasn’t a specific course to study to become a Game Designer. But I tapped into my curiosity to learn more about games, and that got me here.”
Sarah, who has been a part of BYJU’S Game Pod since 2018, is responsible for creating engaging and effective learning games for children. Her role as a Game Designer comprises everything from ideation, designing the rules of the game to the mechanics and aesthetics of it. She adds, “When I say I’m designing the game, I’m also thinking of the story or the concept behind it. So from ideation to the execution, that is till the final product is out, I’m completely invested in the process. The idea is to encourage children to explore their own learning journeys through games.”
Interestingly, Sarah’s own journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. Coming from a diverse educational background, she has degrees in Literature, Linguistics, and Social Work with specialisation in Play-based Learning. Having also worked as a teacher, Sarah adds that she’s always been interested in exploring more about learning and understanding the science of it.
“I think my education gave me a holistic view of life. When I’m making a game for a child, I’m thinking of the psychology behind it, the behavioural patterns, and the cognitive skills that would be involved. I’m trying to empathise with children and understand what play means for them. The goal is to create an intrinsic motivation in children to keep learning. And if they are enjoying the process, you have hit the jackpot,” quips Sarah.
But creating something impactful, especially for children, is not an easy feat. There are several factors and elements involved. One of which is the level of autonomy that the workplace allows its creators and innovators. And Sarah says that at BYJU’S, there is the freedom to express one’s ideas and also experiment.
“Over time, I have learnt the importance of a free environment. To work in a creative space, one should have the freedom to try out new things because that’s how we all grow. We need a space where there’s open communication, freedom to express, and to grow.”
Once you have this platform and the autonomy to experiment, it’s all about applying your skills to create effective products. Talking of how she experienced a smooth transition when she took up the job, Sarah shares that for her, it was about utilising her skills in a different way.
“I already had the knowledge. And here, I got to apply it in a cool, new format. I just had to get used to the gaming language and understand systems, which I delved into soon after I joined. My teammates made the process easy. Since they understood my skill set, it didn’t feel like a challenge. Rather, it was an enjoyable experience.”
Sarah has a few words of advice for those who aspire to venture into game designing. She asks aspirants to play more games and, while at it, deconstruct and analyse them. “There are a lot of online platforms where you can connect with gamers and developers. Keep an eye out for international game conferences. Network with people, attend the talks and you will learn a lot. There are several short courses and informative videos out there. Make use of all the material available to you.”
The nature of creative jobs such as these demands one to be motivated and inspired. But how does one deliver amidst a raging pandemic? Sarah is happy to share some helpful tips.
“The key is to constantly look for that creative energy,” she says. “With all the technology we have, there are several resources that you can make use of. There will be days where you feel like there’s nothing to look forward to. But having a schedule will help bring in some sort of normalcy. I keep myself creatively engaged because that’s where I get my energy from. I take part in online games, forums and platforms where I can network with educators and gamers. That inspires me to keep going.”
And for those who are still apprehensive about making a career out of something you are not trained for, Sarah shares a key point.
“If you are waiting to have that skill to start something new, you’ll never start. You tap into that curiosity and just follow your instincts. And once you start applying the knowledge you have gained, you will see your skills develop gradually.”
A passionate writer and a compulsive photographer, Fathima is fascinated by people and their stories. Besides her brief stint in advertising, she's worked over four years as an art and culture journalist where she’s written extensively on music, theatre, and films. In love with cameras, colours, and compositions, she likes to watch life one frame at a time and hopes to tell stories the best way she can.
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