This is Part Two of our interview with Tim S. Davis. To hear about how Tim got started in the gaming industry and some of his biggest challenges, read Part One here.
At Borderless Translations, we’re always keen to learn from fellow creators, such as Timothy Staton-Davis, a technical game designer, producer, and leader with expertise in understanding people, guiding teams through development, and bringing people together to create great interactive experiences. Tim has a passion for video games and creating new, unique, and fun experiences that aim to impact players while telling diverse stories, and told us all about networking, organizational hacks, and advice for those getting into the gaming industry.
How do you network or find clients, or how did you land your current gig?
These days, I refer to networking more as building relationships. My mindset was wrong when I first entered the industry and I really didn’t know what it meant to build support circles to navigate this space.
I got the opportunity to work on God of War Ragnarok because of my efforts to build relationships, make myself easily accessible, and my work easily viewable.
I had initially met recruiters from Santa Monica Studios at GDC back in 2017-2018. I didn’t meet their criteria for what they were looking for at the time, but we had good conversations. Fast forward to 2019, I learned about some new openings at the studio, applied, and made contact with that recruiter again. I had also been getting new experience under my belt with my current project. Eventually, we started the interview process and here we are. I’ve been working at Santa Monica Studios for 2 years as a Contractor Encounter Designer.
I continue to be grateful to be working on projects I enjoy with good-hearted, passionate, and talented people.
Tell me about your experience working with localization services and teams. What have been some pros and cons of these experiences?
I haven’t had much experience working with localization teams yet. The most has been working alongside narrative designers and writers who had to send the text to localization teams.
As a video game player, have you noticed times when the localization was not good?
Definitely. It’s particularly obvious when the grammar is bad or when the context of the writing is not translated properly based upon the language and culture.
Do you have any productivity or organizational hacks you’d like to share?
I use task management software to help organize what I’m doing every week and to keep up with the various projects that I have going on. I found doing this to be useful in my personal life as well as with each of my projects.
Any words of advice for those looking to break into the gaming industry?
As many people say, when it comes to work opportunities, it’s about who you know.
Know what you care about and are willing to compromise on. Focus your energy on one major skill area and improve from there.
Lastly, make games! Make games, build a portfolio, collaborate with others. Don’t wait for opportunity to come to you, do the work when you feel inspired and the opportunities will show themselves in time.
Got anything you would like to share?
Some friends and I run a collective called the Melanated Game Kitchen. It’s a collective of game creators – artists, designers, programmers, writers, musicians – focused on the creation and curation of unique interactive experiences for the culture, revolving around the African Diaspora, while learning and growing in our craft.
We provide a space for creators of all experience levels – new game developers to industry veterans. With an emphasis on the pooling of skills and resources, and the sharing of knowledge, members learn professional development practices while creating unique game experiences. We host a game jam every quarter and the theme of each jam is something that is relevant to members of the African Diaspora.
If you resonate with this and are looking for a group to create with and offer mutual support, find us on itch.io & Discord to join our collective.
We are also looking for Skill Experts (provide light skill expertise during the jams) and Event hosts. Please reach out to me if you’re interested. It will not take much of your time.
Find Tim S. Davis online:
*Interview has been edited for clarity.