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Games Student Gets Creative in Collaborative, Design-Focused Role as Interface Artist at PlayStation

Zhuo (Aslanta) Chen, Game Design Student

CAMD student Zhuo (Aslanta) Chen, who is studying Game Design with a minor in Graphic and Information Design, is a video game artist and designer – and is always eager to take advantage of meaningful growth and learning opportunities. During her time at Northeastern so far, she has embraced several hands-on learning opportunities to develop her skillset, including working with Paidia Studios  (a games studio formed by Dr. Celia Pearce and MFA student Jeanie Choi) as well as participating in various clubs and student organizations. Aslanta also spent much of last year working for PlayStation in California, where she turned a summer internship (Interface Artist Intern) into a full-time co-op opportunity for the fall (Interface Artist).

We recently caught up with her about this experience, which was overwhelmingly positive. Read more about it below.  

Tell us about what it’s like being an Interface Artist. What did your day-to-day look like?

At PlayStation, I worked as an Interface Artist for the famous baseball series MLB The Show. Every morning, I attended a “scrum meeting” with the front-end team where everyone briefly talked about their plan for the day. After the meeting, I went back to my office and started working on art assets I wanted to work on for the day. I worked mostly with the front-end team and the live team; some of my responsibilities included designing in-game UI and icons, creating art concepts for future titles, and making graphics for Twitch live streams, social media, and the game’s official website, TheShowNation.com. One of the things I loved the most about my job was the freedom I had to create schedules and organize tasks on my own. I didn’t have any one looking over my shoulder, and I was free to utilize range my time however I wanted as long as I could meet all the deadlines.

What was it like working for such a well-known and established brand like PlayStation? 

It was amazing! As a gamer, working at PlayStation was like a dream come true. Besides going to E3, designing for a well-known AAA series, and meeting big names such as Shawn Layden and Shuhei Yoshida, we even got discounts on various PlayStation games and products. It was also cool to be able to volunteer as PlayStation representatives at local events, such as San Diego Pride Fest, GamerCon, and Hashtag Lunchbag. As for company’s culture, I was initially a little worried that a large company like PlayStation would have a very rigid and corporate environment. However, it turned out that working at PlayStation was truly like joining a big family. Everyone in the studio was friendly and welcoming, and I still keep in touch with my co-workers after coming back to Boston.

What were a few highlights from your co-op experience? 

Honestly, there wasn’t any moment that I didn’t enjoy during my time at PlayStation. Some of the projects that I enjoyed the most include creating UI concepts for The Show 19, designing logos for minor league stadiums, and making icons and nameplates for Universal Profile. However, the project that I was the most proud of was The Finest cards in MLB The Show 18. The Finest cards are baseball cards that come out at the end of each baseball season and represent the best players of that year. My partner and I spent a couple of weeks brainstorming and making concepts for the card design, and another week creating the finalized 17 cards with the 17 finest players. The cards were highly acclaimed when they were released, and many players especially loved the card art. Working on this project helped me confirmed my passion in designing and making art for video games, and I’m extremely happy that I chose the right major for it.

Now that you’re back on campus, what are you most looking forward to this year?

This year, I am most looking forward to adapting the skills I’ve learned on co-op to use them for the projects that I’m working on with my friends and professors at Northeastern. After going on co-op, I’ve become more comfortable with Adobe’s creative applications, and my workflow is a lot more effective now, so I’m really excited to test out these skills on my projects. Besides that, I’m also happy to come back to the student organizations on campus, such as Husky Ambassadors and Chinese Students & Scholars Association. It was sad leaving PlayStation, but I’m also excited to learn more at Northeastern so I can be better equipped when I return to work in the future.