The Sumo Digital Placement Scheme - MCV

The Sumo Digital Placement Scheme

In this series of articles from Sumo Digital, the UK studio opens its doors to show us what they do and how you can get involved.
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This month we speak to Sumo Digital's studio head and co-founder, Darren Mills, about the company's placement scheme, along with some of its current placements.

Darren Mills, Studio Head and Co-Founder

What is Sumo Digital’s placement scheme?

Our undergraduate placement scheme is an amazing opportunity that we offer to students studying programming, art or game design courses that are in their sandwich year at university. All of our placements are paid positions and usually run from September to September, although we do have some flexibility, and are available at both our Sheffield and Nottingham studios. The closing date for this year’s applications is Friday 26th January 2018 with interviews being held in Feb/March 2018. 

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What do placement students do at Sumo?

Our placement students gain valuable experience by working in a fast paced, professional environment on real AAA projects, preparing them for a career in the games industry. Combined with theory learned on their courses, this scheme gives them a much better understanding of the game development lifecycle, while providing insight into working with professional tools as part of a team. This hands-on experience gives them an advantage when applying for their first job.

The students that we accept are all considered as highly valued and respected members of the team. As such, they are expected to make a real impact on the projects they’re working on. These include major AAA franchises such as LittleBigPlanet, Hitman, Forza Motorsport and Crackdown!

Why is the placement scheme so important?

For Sumo, it gives us the opportunity to help shape the next generation of game development talent. This strengthens our ties with universities across the UK, while injecting a fresh set of ideas and enthusiasm into our studios.

We are continuously striving to work more closely with universities to build stronger relationships, ensuring students know about the opportunities available at Sumo and careers in video games. We actively promote our placement scheme to careers departments, attend university events, and sponsor competitions such as Brains Eden and Search for a Star/Rising Star. Promoting collaboration between universities and the games industry has proved to be an incredibly successful investment for us.

In the past, careers in video games have often been overlooked by the education system, this means that as an industry it is vital that we continue to engage more with schools and young people to actively promote the fantastic opportunities available within the games industry.

Words from some of our current placements

Simon Pardon, Placement Artist

What have you done in your placement?

For the last 3 months, I’ve been working at Sumo as an environment artist one of our AAA titles. I’ve been working on textures in the game and have also had the opportunity to create buildings and optimize existing assets. I’m treated like any other employee and feel like I have played an integral part in developing the game’s environments.

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How have you enjoyed it and what have you learned?

Getting to work on such big games with such a large team is very exciting and motivating. Everyone is happy to help me with any problems or answer questions whenever needed. Working with other environment artists and their existing work has allowed me to quickly learn from them and increase my own knowledge. The people I work with all have a lot of experience so getting feedback from them has been hugely beneficial. 

Do you believe schemes like this help you and your fellow graduates?

I believe doing a placement year is the best way for a student to develop themselves. Not only do you get to develop your skillset in the work field, you also get to develop yourself within a professional team and learn how to think in a more practical way. I now have a better idea of what working in the games industry is really like and positively changed my perspective.

Emma Lintvelt, Placement Game Designer

What have you done in your placement?

I’m a game design student and after my initial introduction to the project I’d be working on, I was given a specific feature that the team asked me to re-design. Once that feature was ready for implementation, I was then given the opportunity to work alongside the UI team to oversee and support the final implementation.

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How have you enjoyed it and what have you learned?

It’s been great! I’ve been working closely with industry professionals who have been amazingly helpful and have been teaching me their best practices and workflows. Through working with them I’ve learnt to look at different design perspectives and revisit a lot of the things I was taught in school; improving and reiterating. It’s extremely rewarding that when you do your best and deliver good work, you are rewarded for it with more responsibility.

Do you believe schemes like this help you and your fellow graduates?

Absolutely! I’m grateful that my school prepared me for the industry by being project based, but this internship is that crucial final step. I was anxious that my first industry job could end up being somewhat overwhelming, but I have no reason to fear it anymore. It’s not as scary as it sounds and I’ve learnt so much more than I ever anticipated. Besides, a successful placement is the best way to kick-start your career.

Daniel Budworth-Mead, Placement Programmer

What have you done in your placement?

I’m a programmer on a currently unannounced project. I think I’ve been extremely lucky to get this placement as I can work on such a wide variety of aspects and topics of programming. Whilst at Sumo I have been asked to work on gameplay code, audio code, and even some low-level console optimisations from time to time.

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How have you enjoyed it and what have you learned?

I have learned an incredible amount since starting here earlier this year. I’ve improved my programming ability tenfold, learned to communicate my ideas and work better with colleagues, and I now know a whole lot more about how the industry works. I am really enjoying my time here; Sumo Nottingham has been a great start to my (hopefully) future career!

Sumo have been amazing, with the summer day out in Sheffield, the milestone reward events, and the Christmas Party! It’s a really friendly work environment and I hope to come back and continue working here after I finish my Computer Games Programming degree at the University of Gloucestershire.

Do you believe schemes like this help you and your fellow graduates?

Definitely! This placement has basically kick-started my career in the games industry.

With the knowledge I have gained I should be able to go back and ace my degree at University.

Just being in the workplace, programming and working for eight hours a day makes such an incredible difference. The stuff I have been working on here and learning is way beyond what I was doing at University. My degree should be a breeze now thanks to Sumo!

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