By Harold Goldberg
Call it Rockstar Day. On Monday, the New York Videogame Critics Circle brought Simon Ramsey, Rockstar Games’ Head of Communications, to mentor at the DreamYard Prep School in the Bronx. (The Circle has a history of mentoring students there.)
As many journalists know, Rockstar keeps a very low profile across the board. Yet the people at the company that makes the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption series have known about the Circle’s charitable endeavors since we begin this essential community outreach a few years ago. So after a request they kindly came on board.
Simon shared his own circuitous path into videogames and discussed the many ways kids could find a career making, playing or discussing videogames across all forms of media.
The DreamYard Prep School students in the room were fascinated. A few had thought that the road to working in games was a linear path. But almost like Rockstar’s open world games, they learned the route is not necessarily a straight line.
The class came prepared with incisive questions. One asked about how teams at Rockstar’s far flung studios work together. Another asked, how much would an entry level graphic artist earn? There was a series of detailed questions about AI and non-playable characters as well.
Ramsey said, “It was awesome to see that the kids were interested in so many separate aspects of the industry, whether it was coding, design, animation or games criticism! They truly understood there were multiple pathways into the industry, and not just into the idea of playing games.”
With our mentoring and scholarship programs, it’s the Circle’s mission is to work with the DreamYard students for years, not months. We take on students as interns – not just through high school, but into college and beyond. If they’re still interested in work in the games industry or in games journalism after their time in university, we’ll help them as best we can to get a job in games. It’s the least we can do to give back.
Ultimately, it’s opportunities like these through the Circle and its partners that can give these young adults some of the essential hope they need to pursue work in an industry they love.
Harold Goldberg is an author/journalist who is the Founder of the New York Videogame Critics Circle.