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How I became a video game designer: Bugi Kaigwa

Welcome to our series "How I became …", where we dig into the stories of accomplished people and influential and find out how they got where they are in their careers. We discover their greatest challenges, their greatest passions and their greatest wisdom – for you.

Note: The interview was slightly modified.

Working in the world of video games is a dream job, and Bugi Kaigwa, a technical artist at Visual Concepts, is living his dream as a video game designer.

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Bugi Kaigwa

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Bugi Kaigwa (Photo: Roger Rigley)

Kaigwa, who works on the development of basketball games NBA 2K very popular, including the game NBA 2K17 this year, discussed with USA TODAY College on slats vanilla, hard work and, of course, video games.

What is your coffee order?

Usually, being from Kenya, I am a tea man – usually just a ginger tea. I also love a vanilla vanilla latte.

What's the coolest thing you've ever done?

My travels in South Africa, my travels in general. Traveling can make you a better person, it can broaden your thinking about so many different things.

Also, working on NBA 2k was one of the coolest things I've done in my entire life. The look on people's faces when you tell them you are working on 2K is the coolest thing.

Who is your mentor?

My parents. I think that they had such an influence in my life and to the person I became. My mother has learned to work hard to achieve what I want, and she has opened so many doors by showing me an example of what hard work can be. My father is an amazing and incredible artist and I respect him. I hope someday to be as good as him.

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Professionally, the dean of our school, Jerome Solomon. I met him when I joined Cogswell, and I knew him. His work in the industry is amazing, and he worked in many studios on which I dreamed of working. Very early on, I developed an admiration for him, and he always guided me a lot, he has always been there for me when I have concerns about the industry or the industry. the question. He has always guided me in the right direction.

What does your career look like, from college to Visual Concepts?

My career is very non-traditional. My first degree is in finance, and that is when I started learning to do computer graphics, and while I was doing that, I was developing skills. By the time I left, I was ready to start freelancing, and I did a lot of graphic and television projects.

My heart, however, was in the animation; I love video games, and I came to California and I registered at Cogswell. I started animation but I ended up following the technical path. I felt like I started my career at Cogswell because I worked on gaming studio projects, I was an elite artist on these projects and I was on projects as a technical director. I really love where I am, but I do not want to be too comfortable, so I hope someday will be able to tell my own stories and guide my own experiences to new audiences.

What does a day of work look like for you?

We work with many different departments! I start my day a little later than most … Not a morning person. I get to work around 10 am, and he usually works on morning and previous day emails, and a lot of fires. It's a bit what the job entails, a lot of different departments and trying to support them. There are always problems, so that's where most of my day is spent. We also do a lot of tools development to help the artists, which is very fun, and the character works in the departments and I finish my day around 7am, 7:30.

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What is the general process behind the design of a video game?

Before joining Visual Concepts, I had no idea how many things everyone was doing. Each artist is like a small wheel in a big wheel. There is a lot to do to put the pipeline together, and then a lot of construction to become a work pipeline where everyone can contribute. Video game development involves bringing together many, many people around a common goal, working little by little.

What is your favorite role in your work?

I would say that my favorite part – which is also the hardest part – is problem solving. Every problem is different, and that's what attracted me to the technical direction, because I have the impression of gravitating around things that you have to use different skills to try to understand.

I really liked maths more than the average student, and that prepares your brain for that kind of work. I appreciate that, and the satisfaction you feel. If I compare myself to only six months ago with now, the way I focus on different issues has really changed. It's like a muscle that is growing.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned professionally?

It is essential that if you want to become great at what you do, you will remain hungry to know and do better. I have never felt good enough, and that sounds negative, but the feeling that you could always do better than what you are doing right now is how you grow up.

What is the best advice you have received?

The best advice I received was from Jerome Solomon. I had come to do animation, and two weeks later I was in a programming class and I approached her to choose her brain. I told him that I was worried because I heard a lot about people who did not get hired in the animation, and that it was really risky. He asked me if I had the impression of having technical experience, and yes, because I liked art and maths. He told me that I should follow the technical path, and I did it. With the number of people in animation, you just had to be better than the best. There are not many people in technology in the industry because it's so rare – not many people like this kind of work.

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How would you describe your work?

Sort of between art and engineering, with one leg in both worlds. It's more specialized and it involves a lot of taking things that artists create and making them usable for animators. It's a bit of an intermediary role. So we take the character models, we put them in skeletons and we build the platforms so that they can be animated, and once they are finished, we help them integrate them into the Thu.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Stay hungry. You must feel the intense driving you need to succeed, and most have it in their hands. I do not know if you can develop it because it takes a lot of hours to succeed in this industry. Do some self-reflection – even if you have a little bit of that disc, you can develop it and direct it in the right direction. Everything revolves around work, everything revolves around the grind.