If you’ve ever clicked an icon in a video game or you’ve ever marvelled at how easy a game’s home screen is to navigate, you’ve been blessed with the gifts of a UI/UX designer.
No idea what those letters mean? UI stands for User Interface and UX stands for User Experience — so, long story short, they make sure that you as the user can have the best, most productive time playing. Really, they’re all about you — or, U, so to speak.
We had the chance to speak with UI/UX legend and one of Melbourne’s favourite adopted Swedes, Anna Brandberg, about her profession (and why UI/UX designers have some of the most important jobs in games).
“I get to listen to music all day, I get to play games, and I get paid for it. It’s a pretty sweet deal,” she laughed. “As a UX designer, my job is to create a meaningful gaming experience for our player base.”
And it’s those kinds of meaningful gaming experiences that are so valued in the industry. There’s no use having a 10/10 concept for a game with no understanding of how to make it playable and intuitive.
So that’s where people like Anna come in. To illustrate her point, she showed us her process for when she worked on The Sims FreePlay, while working at EA Firemonkeys.
View this post on Instagram
“I would do lots of sketches, and then that would translate into wireframes. Once this is all agreed on, that’s when we then move on to making all the pretty stuff. So this is where we get to make all the pretty little buttons and icons, and all the flourishes.”
It may not seem like a crucial element of the game’s design but trust me, it plays a HUGE part in how accessible and functional the game is. You press those buttons and icons without even thinking — and the fact that you can do that without having to really think about where they are, is a testament to good UI/UX.
And sure, it can be tricky working as a woman in games — Anna doesn’t shy away from mentioning it. But it’s also really important that we continue to change this dynamic by ensuring that women feel they have a space there.
“I’m not gonna lie, it is hard,” she says. “It is challenging. But we’ve created these really supportive spaces as well, and really solid friendships.”
And a lot of these friendships are with people she’s met in her work as a guest lecturer at Billy Blue College of Design.
“It’s been a really good way to get involved with the local community,” she says, “because that’s your future network right there — your classmates are your future peers.”
Her advice? It’s simple.
“Don’t be a jerk! Be nice to everyone all the time, because who knows. That person in your class might be interviewing you for your next job in a couple of years time.”
So what’s next for the incredibly talented Brandberg? She’s headed off to Sweden to join King, one of the world’s biggest mobile gaming companies — and chances are you’re probably pretty familiar with its biggest title.
Yep, Brandberg is off to work as a Senior UX Designer on Candy Crush. The game that literally millions of people have spent literally millions of hours on. Pretty damn impressive, if you ask me.
View this post on Instagram
Wanna hear from her yourself? Check out our interview with her below.Image: Instagram / @annabrandberg