Post news RSS My Experience as an Indie Game Studio Intern

My name is Nicole, and I am an intern at Mega Cat Studios. The main purpose of this article is not to brag about said internship (although I could, and do, fairly regularly), but to educate others on what an internship in the indie gaming industry could look like. Not only that, but a REMOTE, paid internship: an employment trend that I feel will be utilized far more often in the future. So, in the words and accent of Mario, “Let’s-a go!”

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A (Wo)Man on a Mission

WOMAN MISSION GIF

When I found this internship opportunity, it was classified as one focused on creative writing and creating dialogue. I thought, “Hell yeah, I can do that. Creative writing is my bread and butter.” So I applied, had a Skype interview, and wrote up some sample articles. I guess all went well because I checked my e-mail one morning and there it was- an invitation to join the Mega Cat Slack Channel. It was a pretty big moment for me.

I now think of the Slack Channel as a big watering hole, and all the people on it are animals from The Lion King. I check it multiple times throughout the day because there’s a pretty constant stream of communication going on at all times there- different team members sending progress shots of whatever they happen to be working on at the time. It’s especially handy because a lot of members are in different time zones, some even in different countries, so you can always check what time it is over by them before you send them a message.

The Slack Channel gave me my first introductions to the people I’d be working with, and I lucked out in that they all happen to be extremely kind and helpful individuals. I’m no stranger to games or gaming, but if there was a term or a concept I didn’t understand in an article I was working on, any and every one I’d ask for help would take the time to explain things to me, whether it was in their wheelhouse or not.

Case in point: Frank Tyler. Technically speaking, Frank’s job is in graphics, but that hasn’t stopped me from asking him millions of questions while writing my articles about things he doesn’t know and isn’t required to know. I’m pretty sure I’ve had to pick everyone’s brains at least once for different articles, but by far and large I’ve had to pick Frank’s the most. Bless his sweet soul.

I also took full advantage of the accessibility to everyone and learned a little bit about what everyone does. For me, I was genuinely interested, but just as a rule of thumb it’s always cool to check out all the different veins of an industry you’re interested in. I watched Hari and Frank designing pixel art on their Twitch streams, I asked Mitch about how he bottles all the emotions of music into an 8-bit format, I asked Andrew how many artistic mediums he tried before he found his groove in retro game graphics, and I had Zack explain to me the finer aspects of RPG’s. You might learn that there’s even more stuff that you love about a particular industry or you might even learn that there’s a branch of it that you didn’t know existed and think you could be good at, so you might want to try!

I… Can Be In The Scuba Squad?

scuba steve

But I digress; back to the story. I was chugging along, just writing my articles. The articles are about homebrew, indie gaming- the trends, the history; and also about any and all things retro-gaming related. I actually learned quite a bit writing the articles; one time I looked up “homebrew” on Reddit and it brought me to a community of coffee enthusiasts. One day, James, the founder of Mega Cat, told me that if I was interested in more creative work, I could contribute to some design docs. Design docs- as in THE DOCUMENTS FOR DESIGNING A VIDEOGAME.

In my head I was instantly Kevin McAllister when he first realizes that his family left for France without him and he has the whole house to himself. ME? Design a VIDEO GAME? Did they realize I was but a baby in this world!? I’m good at making up stories, as most creative writers are, but there are so many more pieces that go into a good game than just a good story! But James said he believed in my creativity, and I knew if I got overwhelmed I could bother Frank, so that was a big HELL YEAH for me!

That pretty much leads up to now. Zack, a proper writer at Mega Cat (as opposed to an intern writer) has helped me loads so far when I had no idea what I was doing, which has happened a couple of times. And I’m so excited about the ideas I’ve been able to come up with for a game that could conceivably be played by real people one day! For college students considering internships, I want to leave off with this list of things they should be prepared for, should they decide to intern for Mega Cat or a similar type of company. Be prepared to:

  1. Instantly feel like part of the team. There isn’t any uncomfortable hierarchy feeling, and James is totally not scary to talk to. The last thing I think I saw from him in the Slack Chat had something to do with “sexy mayo.” Make some friends!
  2. Work independently. This sounds like a “duh” point, being as the internship is remote, but you really need to be able to schedule your time wisely and not rely on other people to tell you when things are due and in what order. You have to use your own judgment a lot, and possibly also Frank’s if he has time to proofread something for you. But mostly your own.
  3. Be exposed to new experiences. Like DESIGNING A GAME! HAVE I SAID THAT IN ALL CAPS ENOUGH!? You may go into an internship knowing what your strengths are, and then get the opportunity to find out that you have even more talent muscles that you never got to flex before!
  4. Feel valued. Besides being accepted so easily into the fold, your skillset is too. The freedom that comes with remote working also comes with a trust of sorts. These people believe in me enough to let me go at it on whatever topics I want, trusting that I can make a sensible piece out of it. That’s a really nice feeling. And then to offer you even more creative opportunities? bananas
  5. Have fun! Because how can you produce something fun, whether it’s an article or a game, if you’re not having fun yourself!
  6. Get paid! I cannot tell you how many internships I’ve seen that are unpaid. I’m not knocking them – I’m just saying that given the choice, I like to pay for my gaming habits in good old American dollars. Thanks, Mega Cat.

Last Lap

mario kart

Thus ends my tale of Mega Cat Intern-dom. I’m having fun, I’m working hard, and I get little sneak peeks of things like big fluffy chicken suits that recently had to be animated for Viking Democracy that I can’t wait to see in action! It’s a pretty sweet deal!

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