Dominic Shaw, office manager at Ukie talks about how a passion for video games turned around his approach to education in his quest to join the games industry
How did you break into games?
I have always been into and played video games, escaping into worlds of fantasy by engagement through game mechanics. Though with this enthusiasm for the medium I didn’t always know a career in games was possible as I wasn’t very ambitious in school. It wasn’t till 2008 where I went into my local Blockbuster and picked up a game I never heard of before called Mass Effect where my quest for a career in video games would begin.
I became so engrossed that I eventually watched a behind the scenes documentary called Sci vs Fi: Mass Effect, where I discovered a job in video games was feasible. I turned around my approach to school, going from E to B grades, extensively researched pathways I could take to get into the industry, which led me to studying game design and development for 5 years through college and university. Once graduated it wouldn’t be for another 4-5 years going between various disciplines like Events, QA and Biz Dev on a roller-coaster that I can honestly say now I feel I’ve claimed a place in this industry.
What has been your proudest achievement so far?
Last year I did some event work for game publisher Modern Wolf, they were so impressed by my efforts alongside a pay bonus they asked me if I wanted to join them for PAX East 2020 with expenses paid for. I thought they were just being nice but I was sent my airport and hotel details, then when February of this year rolled around I travelled with their team to Boston, Massachusetts for a week to work at the event. This was not only an amazing opportunity, it reconfirmed to me that hard work and dedication can pay off – for which I am so appreciative to the Modern Wolf team for.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Unfortunately I’ve worked for companies within the games industry that were, possibly still are, toxic and not very kind. I often questioned my value while working with these companies and from a career perspective I felt clouded in darkness. However I am delighted to say I work in a much more positive environment with amazing people, which is why the work I do through the #RaiseTheGame diversity pledge and as an Autistica Play ambassador is essential to ensure we as an industry become a more inclusive and welcoming place for people to engage and work in.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Aside from not having a hand in game production, I feel my role at Ukie is my dream position because I am given trust to take charge, oversee my workload and get tasks done in my own way; resulting in every day being different. Having these aspects alongside the flexibility for additional work through professional development and to be myself helps me be productive as I am a very hands on and open person who loves organising, needing to be comfortable and have an understanding of what I am doing to flourish.
What’s your biggest ambition in games?
To lead or be part of a team that makes something as amazing as Mass Effect. If I can play a part in the creation of such a game that can entertain and inspire people to make positive change in their lives and take up a career in video games, I would be fulfilled and very likely happily speechless!
What advice would you give to someone looking to get a career in the industry?
Be open to opportunities. Sometimes you must go with the flow, other times you must challenge what is in front of you to gain access to prospects that can change your life. I didn’t plan or set out to be an office manager, the opportunity arose and I went for it. Even without any formal qualifications because of the belief in myself, my transferable skills and knowing I can adapt. You will have dark days but if you make the effort, work hard and are truly passionate – finding a place in this industry is not at all a pipe dream.