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Kids Turn Hobbies/Education

Meet Mick West, Video Game Developer

Name: Mick West
Title: Lead Programmer on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 & 2, Co-founder of company
Company: Neversoft
Goal: Creating successful games which people enjoy playing, and of which we can be proud.

The Interview

Tony Hawk Screen Shot from Neversoft KT Q: What exactly do you do at Neversoft?
Mick: I'm the lead programmer, so I write the code that makes the skaters skate around and do all the cool tricks. I also designed some bits of the game. I'm part of a team of about 12 people.

KT Q: What made you decide to go in this line of work?
Mick: When I was young I was always playing computer games, and I just started writing little games for myself. They were not very good at first, but get a lot better with practice. I just think it's a lot of fun, it's great seeing other people playing my games.

KT Q: How old were you when you knew this is what you wanted to do?
Mick: Probably about 14, when I first got a computer.

KT Q: What education or preparations did you take to prepare for this career?
Mick: It's very important to have a good basic education in math and English. I have a degree, which I would certainly recommend doing. You don't need to have a degree in computer science, but any type of education will help a lot.

KT Q: Any advice for kids who want to get in this line of work?
Mick: You have to be hard working! It takes a LOT of work to make a game, and you have to be prepared for that. A great place to start would be in the testing department of a publisher, like Activision. There you will learn a bit about the life cycle of a game, and how much work can be involved.

KT Q: If a kid has an idea for a game where do they start?
Mick: Start small! You are going to have to make the game yourself, as publishers NEVER look at games designs that get sent in to them. The best thing to do is to get a group of friends together, maybe just 2 or 3, and try to make a little bit of the game yourself. Make the smallest one possible, and then you will have something to show people. You might not sell the game, but it will certainly help you get a job (maybe just a summer job, but that's a great start).

KT Q: What made you decide to do the Tony Hawk games? Do you like skateboarding?
Mick: There were just no good Skateboarding games out there, so we though if we did a good game, with the best Skateboarder out there (Tony), then it would be very popular. And we were right!

KT Q: Do you know Tony Hawk?
Mick: I've met Tony a few times, he comes by the office a lot to help us with the game. He gave me cool signed skateboard when we finished THPS1.


KT Q: Any cheat codes you can share?
Mick: I'm afraid all the cheat codes are under lock and key until the game is released. I can tell you though that there will be a lot MORE cheat codes, and hidden secrets, in THPS2, than there was in the first game. And they are a lot more interesting.

Special thanks to Mick West for the interview. Mick also participated in a chat - you can read the transcript here.

For more information on Neversoft games be sure to visit their site.

Screenshots used with permission from Mick West and Neversoft.

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