Every month, we pick the brain of an up-and-coming talent. This month’s Rising Star is Laura de Castro, junior programmer at Hutch Games, who tells us about having to leave Spain to break into the games industry and how you shouldn’t compare yourself to other developers
How did you break into games?
When I was younger I was amazed by all kinds of media, so I wanted to do everything! I wanted to write books, draw comics, make movies and, of course, I also wanted to make video games.
I finally decided to go for video games, but this was more difficult than I thought. There weren’t many options in Spain to study video games at the time, so I decided to study Computer Science and work hard to learn how to make games in my spare time. After finishing my Computer Science BA, I was still hungry to learn more, so I decided to do an MA in Video Games Programming.
Spain’s games industry is still growing, so sometimes it takes years to get your first games job there – so I was very lucky to get a job in a small studio a few days after I finished my MA.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
It made me really proud when Hutch received this year’s Great Places to Work Award. I was able to attend the ceremony, and it was very emotional for all of us there! For me, it’s really important to be proud of the games we develop, but also of how we do it. Knowing that I got a job in a company that not only takes care of the games it creates, but also of its employees, makes me feel really proud.
What’s was your biggest challenge to date?
I think the hardest point on my journey was to realise that Spain wasn’t good for me and that I needed to leave. As I said, there’s not a strong industry there yet, so there are not many opportunities. I knew getting a job here in London wasn’t going to be easy, the industry here is quite competitive, but I decided to give it a go – and here I am now!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Working with my team. I learn a lot from them, and not only about programming but also about design, art, UX… I don’t think I could do that alone. I also love to see how the games that we develop constantly evolve. Day by day you may not see lots of change, but if you look back, even just only one month ago, you can see the huge improvements made and that makes you feel really proud.
What’s your big ambition in games?
This is a tough one, as I feel I’m still starting in this industry, but I really would like to have my own studio in the future, probably in Spain.
I think Hutch continues to be a really good place for me, as it teaches me how you can do your best work and have a healthy work environment at the same time. For me, this experience has been quite different to the ones I had in Spain, so one day I’d like to take all I learnt, and all I still have to learn, and create a great place to work there.
What advice would you give to someone trying to get into games development?
I know sometimes this industry is a little bit discouraging. It’s really competitive and it can be difficult to break into it, so just keep calm, keep working and eventually you’ll get there.
In the process, try to not compare yourself to others. Nowadays with social media it is so easy to meet other developers and see all the amazing things they’re doing while you are just trying to start something, but everyone has its own pace, and it’s really important to understand that.