Beyond Expectations with Blizzard
Blizzard Entertainment panelists share advice on getting hired and review portfolios
(L–R) Scott Campbell, Lead Recruiter at Blizzard Entertainment; Tad Leckman, Senior Training Manager for Cinematics at Blizzard Entertainment; Dr. Elisa Stephens, Academy of Art University President; Peter Lee, Senior Concept Artist at Blizzard Entertainment; Eric Browning, Academy alumnus and Lead Prop Artist at Blizzard Entertainment. Photo by Bob Toy.
On Thursday, Nov. 20, the video game giant Blizzard Entertainment visited Academy of Art University’s Morgan Auditorium to share with students how to maximize their chances of getting hired. Senior Concept Artist Peter Lee was joined by the Senior Training Manager for Cinematics Tad Leckman, Lead Recruiter Scott Campbell and Lead Prop Artist and Academy alumnus Eric Browning.
The panel opened with highlights from this year’s Blizzard Student Art Contest, an annual competition that entered its third year last fall. Since 2011, Blizzard has asked students to submit their designs for new three-dimensional environment pieces for their immensely popular multiplayer online role-playing game, World of Warcraft. To be considered for the 2015 competition, students are asked to submit their designs online by January 15.
Academy students have taken home prizes since the contest’s inception, but this year Academy students were awarded seven of the top 12 rankings in categories including Environment and Character Art.
The panel showcased the innovative submissions of Academy students, including M.F.A. student Jongmo Nam, whose Prophet Moth warrior won 2014’s runner up for Character Art. His design was inspired by a butterfly decoration.
“It was [a] beautiful color, and the shape of its body interested me, so I started sketching it as a character concept,” he said.
After blowing Blizzard away with his designs, Nam accepted a full-time position as a 3-D artist starting in January.
Recruiter Scott Campbell walked the students through Blizzard’s hiring process, stressing the importance of qualities like passion and imagination when it comes to inventing otherworldly characters and environments. With dozens of open positions for every role from concept artist to animator to software engineer, Blizzard is the perfect fit for Academy students used to thinking outside the box.
(L–R) Back row: Scott Berkenkotter, Academy School of Game Design faculty; Tad Leckman, Senior Training Manager for Cinematics at Blizzard Entertainment; Eric Browning, Academy alumnus and Lead Prop Artist Blizzard Entertainment; Scott Campbell, Lead Recruiter at Blizzard Entertainment. (L–R) Front row: Stefanie Stowers, Academy School of Game Design administrator; David Goodwine, Academy School of Game Design department Director; Jamin Shoulet, Academy School of Game Design faculty; Peter Lee, Senior Concept Artist at Blizzard Entertainment. Photo by Bob Toy.
Blizzard Entertainment panelists and Academy students. Photo by Bob Toy.
The panel shared their own experiences getting hired and explained what kinds of projects stand out most in a portfolio or on a reel. When it comes to Blizzard, potential employees should demonstrate an attention to detail that goes beyond the expected, and incorporate elements like backstory and light design to round out the visuals of their compositions.
Prior to that evening’s panel, the Blizzard staff spent the day on campus at the Academy, meeting with the School of Game Design’s instructors and students. According to the Academy’s Director of Industry and Career Development Paula Criss, Blizzard reviewed 37 portfolios from prospective employees and students from the Schools of Animation, Visual Development and Game Design.
Blizzard Entertainment was founded in 1991 by three UCLA graduates before being acquired after just three short years for $6.75 million. Since then, the game developer has become one of the largest in the world, creating the Warcraft, Diablo and StarCraft game series and grossing over $10 billion as of 2012. World of Warcraft alone has more than 10 million subscribers and currently holds the Guinness World Record for most popular MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), so it’s no wonder Blizzard’s looking to harvest the best creative talent out there.
“Thursday night’s presentation gave AAU students an inside peek into the career opportunities at Blizzard and how to best prepare their work for the 2015 Student Art Contest and Summer Internships,” Criss said. “Blizzard hung out afterwards to offer quick comments on portfolios and reels, making the evening educational as well as professionally enriching.”