The Video Games Ambassadors network is the UK’s largest in the games industry, supporting educational initiatives and young people across the country with game jams, feedback, workshops, masterclasses, and more. Every month, we celebrate the work of our amazing ambassadors as part of our VGA Spotlight. The VGA is run by Ukie, the trading body for the games industry, and powered by Into Games.
Our ambassador spotlight for this month is Jason Tzaidas. Jason is currently employed as a Senior Gameplay Programmer at Splash Damage where he is also part of the recruiting team for programming. He joined the video games industry in 2014, after graduating from City, University of London where he obtained a Masters degree in Computer Games Technology. Since then, he has worked on a variety of platforms and game genres with his most recently released titles being Outcasters and Gears: Tactics. Here, Jason tells us about his experience being a part of the Video Games Ambassadors network...
What has been your most valuable experience as part of the Video Games Ambassadors and why?
That is a tough one to answer, simply because I cannot name just one! As a VGA you can get involved in various events and each one will reward you in a different way.
My most recent experience was mentoring a team of six students at UKIE’s #RaiseTheGame jam where I helped them channel their creativity by organising and optimising their working processes, as well as taking part in the game’s brainstorming and review sessions. Prior to that, I took part at GamesIndustry.biz Academy Live event where I reviewed personal portfolios and participated in open and roundtable discussions with current or aspiring video games professionals. Throughout the three-day event, I helped people with career planning by answering questions and guiding them through hiring practices, requirements, and expectations regarding the industry.
Being involved in those events made me realise that I wanted to continue sharing my knowledge and experience. Being a VGA helped me achieve that by becoming a mentor for young people, current students, and recent graduates across the UK. My journey so far has taught me that people will seek a helping hand, and that providing one is an act both fulfilling and rewarding.
Why would you recommend the Video Games Ambassadors to other UK games industry professionals?
I’ve met people who are very keen on joining the industry but didn’t know how to do so or had the wrong impression of what working in games is really like. Therefore, I sought ways to provide insights into the industry through a structured scheme.
While people might have different motives for joining, our participation jointly works toward a common goal of helping the industry evolve, and to make it welcoming and accessible to as many people as possible. As industry professionals, we have the experience of being both potential employees and employers. Being a VGA exposes you to a plethora of opportunities and allows you to reach out to a diverse and wide audience, while still having control over which events to attend.
We must not forget that not that long ago we were facing the same difficulties and doubts that graduates and aspiring professionals are today. We had the same questions and sought out guidance that would help us avoid making mistakes along the way. Each one of us has a very different story to tell and can contribute with their own unique experience through their journey. Formative early career experiences seen as ‘common’ or ‘trivial’ by one person can be truly enlightening for somebody else.
If you’re a UK games industry professional keen to share your skills and experience with the next generation of diverse games industry talent - you can sign up in five minutes at gamesambassadors.org.uk and start inspiring young people to pursue a career in games.