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Having initially been tasked with the goal of writing a business plan and a supporting presentation, my mind began to wonder to all sorts of dark places. I am but a humble student of computer games after all. What could I possibly bring to the table for such a project? This was a question I would ask myself for some time.

Just how did this project begin? It all started with a brainstorming session with my teammates Sacha Corcoran and Meghan Halton. From very early on in this process Sacha had mused a few interesting ideas and this laid a solid foundation for what we felt was needed in later ideas. When Meg had suggested her idea of a communal plant growing business, ears perked up. Both Sacha and Meg discussed the intricacies of this idea at a tentative pace. After what we would later agree was a very porductive brainstorming session, Meg instructed us to perform SWOT Analysis on each of our respective ideas. This was all well and good… except that yours truly did not have an idea.

That was, of course, until I had an epiphany at the very early hours of the morning (or the late hours of the night). Tossing and turning, unable to sleep, I would ask myself; “What could Limerick benefit from?”.  Then, as if my life was a cheezy 90’s sitcom, I remembered various conversations I would overhear from family members about where they get various poultry, fish and the like. Thus the idea of CookWest was born. The main idea was to develop a means of letting people know where the good produce is in Limerick through an online recipe learning service.

After using SWOT Analysis to evaluate our ideas we deduced that, although it is a fantastic opportunity, Meg’s idea had a lot of initial costs associated with it. We decided, instead, to run with CookWest. It’s from this point that the idea really stopped being ‘my’ idea. Meg and Sacha were fantastic in terms of realising the motives and benefits of this service. They used their creativity and innovation to enhance what was my original concept and subsequently shaping it into the service we have laid out in this presentation.

Look at me, this humble student of computer games. I know right? Looking back to the beginning, I would not have expected to come out the other end enjoying it as much as I did. I have learned that having teammates who share the same mindset as you, whilst still being unique, is an absolute godsend. Business plans are a great use and the more I fleshed out the idea, the clearer it became.

All in all, this was a learning experience far beyond what I was expecting.

Want more about CookWest and our other ideas? Follow these links;

The titles and SWOT Analysis of each of our idea’s;

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The Job of my Dreams

4th Year poses many challenges in the paths of many students. Exams loom over the not-so-distant horizon while one’s Final Year Project is the monkey on your back while you clamber your way to and from various classes. Perhaps the most difficult challenge students face is to obtain a good night’s sleep. I’m willing to bet most students aren’t getting their recommended dosage. In this magical place, the Land of Nod, there exists a most pleasant experience. You have probably already figured out I am, of course, referring to dreams.

Worry not, my slumber related mumbles will take a nap of their own for now. What I do dream about, however, is what/where/why I want to be down the line. It’s a line that forms the horizon of my life. That line is quickly approaching and the once blurry shapes are becoming clearer. So, if these shapes are possible career paths/choices, what path will I choose? It’s quite simple really… (maybe…)

My dream job isn’t any one position. Instead, what I long for is an experience. I want to work in a games company where the ethos they adhere to aligns with mine. I want to make games that I would want to play. Luckily for me, such companies exist. One such example is Bungie Studios, whose motto, coincidentally, is “We make games we want to play“. They have developed games that both innovate and entertain. These very same games (the most recent releases anyway) are the ones I play on a near daily basis. The ever expanding workforce that drives these studios are passionate, intelligent people who have realised that the more time and effort they invest, the better their games will be. That’s been the way my brain has been working (for the last few years anyway). I find the more I want to see something succeed, the more likely it is I will willingly invest many sleepless nights and crunch periods in order to make sure that something is a success.

Don’t just take my word for it! Bungie often interview employees (ie. the ‘Breaking In’ articles) from all disciplines about how they got their position within the company. The common denominator I see with many of these interviews is some form of degree in Computer Science or similar courses. A degree in  ‘Multimedia and Computer Games Development’ will be mine and I am confident that the broad views of both conventional computing industries and more game-specific ideologies will be adequate of the title  “Similar to Computer Science”!

In particular, I found the interview of Production Engineer, Tim Williams, really interesting. Most notably, his path from testing to his current post. This guy made a living testing games for Microsoft! The naive me of times gone by would have been sold right there but not the current me. After having spent 8 months working for Bank of Ireland Group subsidiary, New Assurance Ireland, as a Software Tester I learned all to well many important things about myself. I actually enjoy testing! At first I was doing relatively simple tests. It was really fun to perform seemingly mundane tasks and see what happened. Before I knew it, I was the one writing my own test plans! I enjoyed adapting to various systems and understanding how they worked primarily by seeing what did and didn’t work. I have no illusions as to how repetitive the testing process can be, especially in games.

So, that almost makes it seem that being a Games Tester may be my dream job. Is it? Maybe it is. I can’t be sure because my interests also branch into many other areas. Writing music, drawing art, developing small indie games and writing interesting gaming scenarios are all areas I’d love to increase my proficiency in too. For this very reason, I’d also relish the idea of working at Limerick’s own Open Emotion Studios. Not only do they follow a similar work ethic to Bungie (check out that bio!) but they also share humble beginnings as independent developers. What can I attribute to both companies? They both have people working for them who I would love to work with. These people are passionate. The passion of the handful of OES guys or the bus loads of Bungie employees can be seen both outside and inside of the work they do. It’s this love for the craft that I wish to immerse myself in. These are people I admire. I simply cannot choose one to list as that wouldn’t be fair on the passion shared by everyone else.

In conclusion: I want to be the sponge that absorbs the atmosphere of a fantastic working environment and, when strung out (like a sponge), exhibits work that reflects the passion that I too share for games.