Game Changer Files: Matt Laurence ’07MS, Engagement Director at Avalanche Studios
December 7, 2023
1. Status: Where are you currently working and what projects are you currently working on (if you can share)?
ML: I am currently working at Avalanche Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, on Contraband, a co-op action game.
2. Noob: Tell us what you did before your time at FIEA. What inspired you to attend FIEA?
ML: Before FIEA, I was focused on a career in Psychology. I’d always loved games growing up, but back then, the only programs for getting into the industry focused on art or programming, and I was terrible at both (still am, in fact). I got my bachelor’s in psychology from New College of Florida and was preparing to apply for master’s programs when my mom forwarded an email about FIEA. At the time, the program was brand-new—the first cohort hadn’t even graduated yet—but most importantly, it had a Production track in addition to the standard Art and Programming ones! This was something I could actually do! I applied to get in, was admitted to the second cohort, and joined for the first (and only) Spring start. That one email changed the course of my entire life. Thanks, Mom!
3. PvE: How did FIEA prepare you for the industry?
ML: It taught me how to work with a multidisciplinary team to make games, full stop. Granted, this is listed front and center as one of FIEA’s core components, but for someone who hasn’t worked in games before, it’s really hard to appreciate just how ridiculously useful that experience can be. Students come out of FIEA ready to make games for major studios thanks to this approach, and I wouldn’t have had this career without it.
4. PvP: Please share any advice you have for current FIEAns as they enter the game development industry.
ML: Train a secondary skill or specialization. It can be hard to land a job as a basic Game Designer, but position yourself as a Technical, Systems, or Economy Designer, for example, and the doors will really start opening up.
5. AFK: Do you have any recent, interesting personal successes, new hobbies, family updates or activities you would like to share?
ML: I recently collaborated on a game design book with FIEA’s very own Rick Hall. It’s called Cause and Effect Game Design, and it was a blast to write.