Today we’d like to introduce you to Christopher Cross.
Christopher, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
This is the extremely short story version. I’ve been a game designer of 25+ years so how I got here could be super long.
When I was starting out in the early 90’s that there were no schools for making games. It wasn’t even an industry that I considered a valid choice to pursue.
I was floundering at UCLA but it was the friends I met there that pushed me in the right direction. I was playing a ton of games at the time and really just trying to figure out how to play better. Since that was my hobby I talked about the game a ton with my friends. Five friends in four weeks stopped me in the middle of conversations and told me “You should figure out how to make games. You’re clearly passionate about it.”
So, that’s what I did.
I picked several LA-based companies that I wanted to work for. Put together a really thin resume and applied for a tester job (QA-Quality Assurance). I didn’t even check if they were hiring. I just knew that if I was going to get a job in games I should just get started.
My intention was to test for six months and figure out what I could take in school to really get a great job in video games. A year later it became clear to me that my best move was to just stay in games and learn by experience.
Has it been a smooth road?
It’s been struggles the whole way! I didn’t know anything or anybody. Every few years all my contacts move around and new programs come out. Technology changes. People and companies change. The one constant is that I have to keep learning to stay on top of the game.
That’s part of what makes working in games fun (and tiring) for me. It’s always evolving and I better keep up or the industry will leave me behind.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
I’m an independent contractor and work with a lot of companies. Generally, other companies leverage my experience and expertise in game design to help them with their products.
I’m qualified to do this because I’ve been a successful Developer (Medal of Honor – Lead Designer and Design Director, Homefront and more), a Publisher side Creative Director, an Entrepreneur with my own mobile company, and an advisor for startups.
But the most important skills that I bring to the table are communication and empathy. I can explain almost any technical idea to non-technical people. This starts with being able to see things from their point of view then communicating using language that connects them to the idea.
Communication and Empathy are the cornerstones to great digital or even physical design and are especially useful in video game design.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The two advances I’m most interested in over the next five years are Augmented Reality and streaming technologies/platforms. One mixes digital design into the real world and the other puts the nail in the coffin of what we think of as “product”. Together they will change the way we interact with everything and unlock what I’m excited for in 10 years:
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