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Sega Hardlight’s Billie McMillan: ‘Don’t let never having worked in games before put you off applying’

Every month, we pick the brain of an up-and-coming talent. This month’s Rising Star is Billie McMillan, UX designer at Sega Hardlight. She gives UX advice for aspiring designers and explains why you should always start your design thinking on paper.

How did you break into games?
My pathway into games was the product of being in the right place at the right time. In my previous job as a creative designer, I rebranded Hardlight. The project was an absolute joy to work on and opened up my eyes to the possibility of a career in games. With Hardlight already having seen me in my natural working environment and what I was capable of, when the time was right, I approached them and asked if there was any work going at the studio. The next month I started working at Hardlight.

What is your proudest achievement so far?
When you work on something that you can’t talk about for a long time and finally it is released into the wild, it’s a glorious moment. Seeing YouTube streams of your game pop up instantly, and they’re having a great time, they’re good moments.

What’s been your biggest challenge to date?
In my job I need to consider the player as a community, rather than an individual, and find solutions that work for the whole community. It can take many iterations to get it right.

“Always ask ‘why’ – this will allow you to get to the root cause of the problem.”

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I am passionate about people; understanding how and why we perform certain actions is fascinating. Having a job where I get to combine my passions of human interactions, design, technology and art is wonderful.

What’s your big ambition in games?
Growing up, Theme Hospital was one of my favourite games. Ever since we at Sega have acquired Two Point Studios I am secretly hoping we get to work on a version that I can have in my pocket.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a UX designer career?
Don’t let never having worked in games before put you off applying. As long as you have a good portfolio, can connect well with people and feel you can represent them in your work and have a hunger to learn, then what is stopping you?

I have three pieces of advice. First: always ask ‘why’ – this will allow you to get to the root cause of the problem. You can only solve a problem when you fully understand it. Second, start your design thinking on paper. As soon as you start work on a computer, subconsciously you’ll be blocking off ideas, as it isn’t easy as scribbling with a pen. It is also much easier for others to join in with their ideas on paper. Finally, watch people interacting with your work. You can do this even from those first scribbles.

If there’s a rising star at your company, contact Marie Dealessandri at marie.dealessandri@biz-media.co.uk

About Marie Dealessandri

Marie Dealessandri is MCV’s former senior staff writer. After testing the waters of the film industry in France and being a radio host and reporter in Canada, she settled for the games industry in London in 2015. She can be found (very) occasionally tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate, Hollow Knight and the Dead Cells soundtrack.

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