Gamers as Creators

Gamers as Creators
We Don't Need No Education

Tracey John | 21 Jun 2011 08:28
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After showing some levels to co-founders Evans, Mark Healey and Kareem Ettouney, Ettouney brought the rest of the company in to see Beech's demonstration. When Beech was done playing, the room was silent.


"I was looking at the TV, still sweating and still nervous," Beech remembered. "Then I slowly turned around, and there were a couple of people who had their mouths open. Someone started clapping slowly, and then everyone got up. I was freaking out."

So why the standing ovation? Beech had basically showed off things the developers hadn't seen done before in the game, as well as other design elements they'd already been working on to implement in LittleBigPlanet 2 - everything from using direct control for level design to creating cinematics with special effects. It was all made within the limitations of the game, and some parts even exploited the game's bugs in creative ways.

All this from a guy who'd never used e-mail before. While Beech didn't even know it was an interview, Media Molecule offered him a job, one they created just for him, right on the spot - an "insta-hire," as Evans puts it.

"It was possibly the best moment of my entire life," Beech explained. "The 'interview,' as it were, lasted three hours. From not having any experience to be working at one of the best game companies in the world, it was such a quantum leap for me. It absolutely blew my mind."

Beech wasn't the first gamer turned game developer at Media Molecule; the company had hired several LittleBigPlanet community members to become community managers. However, he just might be the first stonemason turned game designer at the studio. While he never completed a formal education - suffering from severe migraines, he dropped out of school at age 16 - Beech used his training as a builder to help him to create innovative LittleBigPlanet levels. And it's clear from speaking with him and looking at his work that - degree or not - he's no dummy.

"Physics is one thing I can't get enough of, and LittleBigPlanet, being a physics-based game, made sense to me," Beech said. "When I was builder, I learned a lot about fulcrum points and just the physics of how buildings work. 'How am I going to get this big lump of steel up there?' So when I got to play LittleBigPlanet, I knew how to make things work. The tools in the game allowed me to try things with my mind, and I didn't have to lift a ton of steel. I could just draw it in the game."

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