Natassha Roberts: Turning Passion into Profession

We recently caught up with Natassha Roberts (2014) to learn about her career in the video games industry. She shares with us her inspiration behind her career decision, what her job as a games producer involves and the importance of women in the games industry. Read below to find out more. 

What have you been up to since graduating from Santa Maria?

Straight after high school, I studied a double major in Web Communication and Games Art & Design at Murdoch Uni. During my time there, I was lucky to be part of the New Colombo Mobility Grant, working with students in Singapore, helping create assets for a museum. I was even flown over there for 10 days! I had a work placement in their digital team, which led to my first full-time job right after graduation as a project coordinator helping with their content management system migration and other miscellaneous projects.

I left there for a project coordinator role at Bankwest, in the Digital team, working on their websites and helping to create webpages and briefs.

After Bankwest, I was offered my first job in games – a producer role at Virtual Gaming Worlds (VGW). I was supporting a team of 30 on a multi-billion dollar product to release features.

After my time there, an opportunity over east came up that I couldn’t refuse. A producer role to work at the largest Australian video game studio – PlaySide Studios. In a little under two years, I’ve helped release three games! Now, I’m across multiple teams of nearly 40 people, all working on different phases of production.

I recently gave a talk at Games Connect Asia Pacific titled, The Illusion of Almost Done: What You Need to Remember When Shipping a Game.

What inspired you to pursue a career in Game Production?

I’ve always loved video games for as long as I can remember. I have a natural talent for organisation, and love working in teams, so these skills made it seem like the perfect role for me. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else really.

When I was at uni, I realised that where I thrived most was making plans, writing up strategies and executing, all skills that you need to be a producer. I also knew I wasn’t good enough at art or coding (two other paths I tried out when studying), so I decided to play to my strengths.

Can you tell us a bit about what your job as a games producer involves? 

I support teams to help release games on time and of quality by managing timelines and budgets. I also run meetings and help facilitate teams to bring out the best parts of each member. 

A lot of what a producer does can be seen as the ‘glue’ between all disciplines (art, quality assurance, user interface, user experience, design, engineering, audio, etc) to help facilitate communication and ensure dependencies are well managed.

I work closely with leadership as well, as I need to know what is going on in the projects I’m involved with. 

We’ve heard that you are a Women in Games Ambassador, what does this initiative mean to you?

Women and other minority genders are rare in the games industry, and Women in Games (WiG) is helping to bring more minority genders into the industry. A lot of what WiG Ambassadors do is help create new platforms, pathways and synergies, which foster opportunities that empower girls and women in the global gaming sector.

As a minority in Games, it means a lot to me that more women have the opportunity to enter the industry and are supported in their careers.

While you were at the College were there any programs or teachers that had a significant impact on you? If so, how do these still affect you today?

Sensei Choo had the most impact. I always loved going to Japanese class; she was like a mum to us, and I’ll never forget her kindness and generosity. I still remember a lot of the Japanese I learned throughout high school, and she’s the one I thank!

I was also really lucky to do the student exchange in Year 12. We got to travel for a week and live like a Japanese student for another! Living with my host sister and absorbing Japanese culture is something I’ll never forget.

Do you have any advice for current students who are hoping to work in the video games industry?

You can do it! Try out a bunch of things. There are a lot of disciplines you can get into – when I started at uni, I had no idea production was an option until my second or third year. I was lucky I was in a course that allowed me to try many different aspects of games, from design to arts and everything in between, so it’s really worth it!

It’s hard to get into games in Australia as your first job, so I recommend starting off in an adjacent industry, as a lot of the foundations you learn can be applied to any industry. You can also start in quality assurance, learn a lot about game development and get a role in the discipline you want that way (and if you really enjoy quality assurance, then it’s also a great discipline to be in!). 

Don’t get disheartened if you don’t get in right away. The opportunity will arise!

Thank you, Natassha, for sharing with us your fascinating work in an area you are so passionate about. We are sure it will inspire our students to consider a career that aligns with their interests. 

What A Term! So Many Opportunities – Jennifer Oaten

As I look back on the past nine weeks, I am so grateful for who we are as a community and what we have achieved. Through the dedication of our staff and the enthusiasm of our students, we have established new connections, immersed ourselves in opportunities and worked through challenges.

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