By: Brett Prank, DePaul University computer game design major ‘19
I had the privilege of interviewing the DePaul University Fundamentals of Game Design Professor JJ Bakken, and ask him a few questions about the gaming industry. Not only does JJ teach at DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media, but he is also a producer for the gaming company, Wargaming.net, which is known for the popular “World of Tanks” games.
Brett: What got you interested in game design?
JJ: I’ve been playing video games for basically my whole life. I’ve always been interested in tinkering with and creating things, so when it came time to start thinking about what to do in the future, I thought, ‘Video games are real neat, I bet I could make those!’
Brett: What is your position at Wargaming and what are your goals?
JJ: I’m a producer. The Production department is the one that’s traditionally given the responsibility of being the glue that combines engineering, art, design, and QA. Our goals include managing the project, creating schedules, prioritizing work, etc. I personally run all our localization for World of Tanks. The game is translated into twelve different languages and I manage this process making sure that all new English text is translated on time and implemented into the game correctly. I also schedule all our Tank Production work, which means I make sure all the new tanks get made and put into the game on time. Finally, I also work with our external partners like Sony to ensure each new version of the game arrives safely and securely on the PlayStation 4.
Brett: On average, how much work is required of you in a single day?
JJ: I work a standard day; the great thing about Wargaming is we strive to have a good work-life balance. The goal is to make sure the game is running on time, and nobody has to work crazy long hours.
Brett: What has been your favorite moment working at Wargaming?
JJ: It may be cheesy, but February 12, 2014. This was the day that World of Tanks launched on the Xbox 360. I started my career in mobile games, but this was my first time shipping a console game. It felt great to see the game servers go live and people start playing the game. The reaction was positive! So many new people got to enjoy the game and we received some really great feedback.
Brett: What has been your least favorite moment working at Wargaming?
JJ: I don’t have a specific “least favorite” anything about Wargaming, but it’s always tough when some aspects of a project change unexpectedly or don’t finish on time. This is always a reality of making games, as it’s a complicated process! Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, but it’s important to be flexible and have some plans in mind for when these things happen.
Brett: Is there anything you’d like to share with people trying to start a career in the gaming industry?
JJ: The best part about making games is that everybody can start doing it immediately. You don’t have to wait to finish a degree or get a job; the resources exist out there to start right now. There are tons of information and tools that exist for free on the Internet for people to make their own games. Even more basic than that, people can create board or card games in their living rooms tonight. As far as getting into the industry is concerned, the best advice I’d give is to be passionate. If you want to make games and that’s your passion, you need to work hard at it, spend those nights and weekends creating games, reading about design, art, or engineering, whatever your goal is. The key to success is just putting in the time to really understand and grow your skills.
Are you interested in connecting with a professional in the gaming industry? One way to get insider perspectives on an industry that interests you is by searching for a DePaul ASK mentor on Handshake! ASK mentors are here to provide information about what it’s like to work in the role or industry that excites you.