GTA V Game Developer, Matt Freedman; Exclusive Interview for Winner Magazine| BNS News

Matt Freedman has made his mark in the gaming industry with accomplishments such as leading the design team for Grand Theft Auto V, a video game that sold over 155 million copies and generated more than 6 billion dollars in revenue!   Taking a look at his long list of achievements that further include work on popular games like the Fifa Franchise, Red Dead Redemption, and even Furious Seas for VR, we were thrilled to get Matt’s insights on success through this email Q & A with BNS’ Jasmine Kara:

Q & A With Beamdog Design Manager, Matt Freedman

What does your vision for career/entrepreneurial success look like, and why have you chosen this path?

"For career/entrepreneurial success, I'm looking to tackle meaningful problems and to provide new opportunities for both customers and creative talent.

I chose the video game industry because it's such a new frontier. It's a medium we still understand very little about. I'm very interested in 'cracking the code' of video games to help them emerge as the major entertainment, artistic and expressive format of our generation. "

What was the first step you took to make this vision a reality?

"-holding the potential of my industry to the highest standard, possible. (I'm) Approaching this from both a design perspective of being unrelenting, regarding customer experience and a perspective of understanding the historic expressive tradition that games can be a part of."

Which milestones have marked meeting benchmarks towards the fulfillment of this vision/ your goals? 

"Every time someone has a smile on their face when playing something I helped design is an important milestone for me. From a higher level perspective though, I've found when I decide to trust in myself and tackle the biggest challenge possible it has always yielded significant advancements toward my goal (though not always directly). The biggest milestone though was when I left a secure game design role to go independent and had to get something out in a year to the highest quality I could. It was a real trial by fire but I grew monumentally as a designer and as a professional. "

What part of your education or other experiences (e.g. volunteering, competitions, hobbies, routines or other personal initiatives) do you feel were the most helpful in preparing you for success?

"Self study has been key. I try to keep up a pace of reading two books a month and carefully choose my reading material.  It's helped me to understand and appreciate the depth of systems my designs have to interact with, such as human cogitative bias or the business interests of large companies. "

How did you continue on your path to achieving your goals throughout the challenges of covid-related operational restrictions?

"I was fortunate that the video game industry was able to pivot to remote work very effectively.  Since I'm in a senior leadership position, I've very much been focused on the wellbeing of my team during covid, since I know that working remotely is more challenging for some people as opposed to others.  Me helping my team to succeed has been paramount to me being able to successfully achieve my goals."

Which strategies have you found the most effective in growing your audience/ bringing awareness of your service to a larger consumer group (e.g. social media, events, networking, targeting audiences, etc)? 

"I've always found that plain open communication is one of the best techniques regardless of platform. Platform choice really depends on where your target audience hangs out. I've seen marketing teams sweat for weeks over font choice (understandably an important choice) but not get the kind of positive audience reception you get from just being open and accessible.
It helps build your authenticity, creates a connection with your audience and spreads positive word of mouth. I've seen solo developers who take this approach get the kind of exposure that huge publishing houses would kill for. It does have to be done carefully though; if you don't have your customer's best interest in mind or get combative or defensive they'll pick up on that immediately and it can backfire."

Which partnerships, if any, have been the most constructive in bringing your goals closer to becoming a reality?

"Identifying talented people and staying in touch. Even if someone hasn't achieved great success yet, if they seem like they've got a good head on their shoulders, then they're probably heading in the right direction and it's worth touching base every now and again. That is where my most valuable partnerships have come from. "

How do you balance work, passions/hobbies, and relationships?

"My work really overlaps with my passions and hobbies so elements of that balance occur naturally. I do give myself downtime to focus on other activities such as exercise, reading and meditation to help recharge my batteries and improve my focus, though.
Regarding relationships, you always need to socialize and to make time for the special people in your life. It can be important to communicate clearly about what kind of time demands your professional life requires so it doesn't feel like it's just randomly popping up as a priority."

What are your future plans to build on your achievements and fulfill your vision for success/ what developments can your audience or clientele look forward to expecting next?

"I'm working on developing a long-term vision for how we can approach design in video games so that they'll improve as an expressive medium while also helping to optimize user onboarding. It's a big challenge and will require some serious iteration time but some early experiments are already very promising. "

What advice would you like to give readers that hope to achieve success in your field?

"Take the time to make your own game; even if it's bad, you'll learn a lot and it'll be an important first step. It's important to network and remember that soft skills are crucial, now. If you are a technical wunderkind but are difficult to work with, companies will be uncomfortable with hiring you. The opposite holds true as well; if you are a delight to work with but are lacking some technical skills, companies will be more comfortable about adding you to their team since they know you can be trained to overcome technical short comings. "
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