independent

Saturday 21 September 2019

James doing what he loves – making computer games

YEARS OF PLAYING GAMES PAY OFF IN STYLE FOR WEXFORD MAN

MARIA PEPPER

WEXFORD man James Rath's parents are beginning to think it was a good idea to buy him all those computer games when he was younger after all.

' They never saw the point of it until now,' said James, who recently got the opportunity to give up the day job and turn his hobby into a full-time career.

The 27-year-old got his break by designing a game level that is due to feature in an upcoming European TV advertising campaign for LittleBigPlanet 2, developed by Media Molecule.

James's impressive skills were spotted by the company and he was approached and asked to officially create levels for the online community to celebrate the launch of the sequel.

His 'Brazilian Carnival' level has been included in an advertisement due to run in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain as well as in Ireland over the next three weeks. Only two other levels were selected for the ad campaign from players worldwide.

James, from Crosstown, is a son of John and Patty Rath, the owners of Shoestyle International in the Bullring, and has been an avid gamer since he was a child. He always leaned towards creative interests and after leaving school, studied graphic design at Limerick Art College, taking a job with a Dublin company after he graduated.

Computer games have always fascinated him and even before the console was created, James was using a Spectrum. He combined his gaming hobby with an interest in art and design and all of these have now collided to provide him with an exciting new career.

It was LittleBigPlanet that got him into game design. 'It's a game like no other,' said James.

When it was first released, the game had a groundbreaking appeal in that it let players play, create and share games online. Not only do gamers play the game, they can also create their own levels, which they then share with the wider gaming community via the Playstation network.

To date, more than three million levels have been created and shared online by more than 4.5 million players. Players can customise levels and also create whole new games.

'It has helped me to turn game design into a full-time career which is fantastic,' said James. 'I'm a big believer in the idea that if you do what you love, you will achieve in that area.'

Since giving up his job in December, the Wexfordman has been doing freelance work for Sony and Media Molecule and has received offers of work from companies around Europe.

Last week he had a key role in the official launch in Dublin of LittleBigPlanet by Sony Computer Entertainment Ireland, teaching workshop participants how to use the design tools.

Media Molecule has also asked him to gather together talented members of the gaming community from around the world, including a music composer, programmers and artists, to create a new game based on Hansel and Gretel to be published on the Playstation network.

An Irish-themed level that James created is called The Last Leprechaun and features a leprechaun defending his pot of gold from evil politicians and bankers. Gaming imitating real life?

What about his parents, who funded his gaming obsession during his childhood and teenage years? It sounds like they're beginning to feel the investment was worth it: ' They're really delighted about it,' said James.

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