Thinking “Out of the Box” – Suzanne Meiler
February 18th, 2010

January 28, 2010 – Raleigh – Suzanne Meiler, guest speaker and former Alumni of Living Arts College, presented an “Out of Box” discussion on how to make it as a professional in the game industry. Meiler comes from an extensive background in environmental modeling having over 10 years experience in the game industry working for conglomerates such as Random Games, Red Storm Entertainment, Destineer/Atomic Games and most recently with Vaco as a Director of Design and Gaming recruiting top industry professionals. She has focused on managing a large team, hiring, scheduling, performing art critiques, and producing documentation.

“Don’t be a Jack of all trades and master of none.” – Suzanne Meiler

Working in either motion pictures or the game industry requires practice by exploring your art skills, whether it is traditional painting, life or architectural drawing. Whatever it takes to improve your skill set to be prepared in your field, just do it! Focus on one specific genre and explore texture, lighting and prop layouts. What is most important is that you stand out and have the work to prove it! Think out of the box by making your own iPhone application or work with other students to design a game.

“Don’t burn bridges.” – Suzanne Meiler

Wherever you work, keep good ties with former supervisors and colleagues. Forming working relationships can help build your experience in the workplace and open up other opportunities down the road.

When developing your portfolio what message are you sending to potential employers?

Below is Suzanne’s Checklist on Portfolio Basics

  1. If you are an environment artist, have examples on your website. A CD/DVD is nice, but having a website is more important.
  2. Make sure when building your website you have a clean header, it is easy on the eye and your work speaks for itself.
  3. Attach your demo reel on your website link, NOT your blog.
  4. Create a menu that is easy to navigate.
  5. Present a variety of skills with a focus.
  6. Design your website using media other than Flash. Industry professionals can view websites on their iPhone and it will not upload if the website is designed in Flash.
  7. Separate your personal blog from your professional website.

Networking can increase your chances of finding a job by joining organizations such as IFFA, Game Initiative, GDC and E3. Facebook, LinkedIn and other industry related social media websites have also had a great impact in the digital media world.

“Preparing a resume, building a portfolio and networking are top priorities to land a job in the industry.” says Meiler. Writing a resume is not always easy, so take a step back and think about what you want, do research on potential employers and write a resume that sells.

When applying for jobs, send an email or apply online, create a cover letter which is brief and to the point, research information about the company and read the job postings carefully. Write a list of questions an employer would ask and be prepared to ask questions regarding the position. And last but not least, follow up with the employer with a thank you letter.

“Suzanne was spot on. She cares about this industry and she cares about our students. Suzanne said exactly what the students needed to hear. It showed through her presentation. She illustrated her points accurately and eloquently using her experience in the industry and her position now as a recruiter. “ – Kwame Hawkins

Meiler provided students a glimpse of what to expect in the world of animation in the game industry and ended the discussion with questions from the students. She is most notable for the environment designs on AAA titles such as the Ghost Recon series, Rainbow Six, and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2. At Atomic she worked on the highly anticipated and controversial game Six Days in Fallujah.

Debra A Hooper
Vice President/Director
School of Communication Arts
@ Digital Circus