Posted 07 September 2022
Interview by Frankie Faccion
Mention Jade Smith

Junior game designer Jade Smith talks level design and bug fixing

Ever wondered what it takes to design video games? With a love for level design – the building of stages, maps and mission scenarios – Jade Smith’s knack for her craft has seen her work on personal projects such as mini-puzzle games, all the way to blockbusters including Battlefield V. Outside the game environment, she’s also had to contend with the imposter syndrome associated with home working and the sheer lack of female representation in the industry. Jade shares with us the importance of hobbies beyond the screen, how running a Dungeons and Dragons game with friends inspires her work, as well as advice and resources for anyone keen to get into video game design.

Jade Smith

Jade Smith

Job Title

Junior Designer, Jumpship



Previous Employment

Game Design Intern, Criterion (2018-2019)

Place of Study

BSc Interactive Media (with placement year), University of York (2016-2020)


Social Media


What I do

How would you describe your job?
Currently I am a Junior Designer working on a game called Somerville. I have a specific interest in Level Design, but my role at [video game studio] Jumpship spans a few different areas of design. From blocking out levels to designing interactions and fixing bugs, no day is really the same.

A lot of my work involves creating an environment to help facilitate the story we want to tell. I lay out a foundation, and other disciplines such as environment art and audio can work with this to bring that setting to life.

Trailer for Somerville, an upcoming game Jade worked on

What kind of skills are needed to do your role? Would you say you need any specific training to do what you do?
There are the technical aspects such as using game engines and basic 3D modelling knowledge, which can help in the early stages of blocking out a level. These don’t necessarily have to be studied at university level – there are a ton of resources online to learn these skills at home.

However, I’d say the most important skills that I use on a day-to-day basis are a lot more interpersonal. My work on a particular level affects a lot of other disciplines, so I need to collaborate with them and help coordinate how their work goes into the level. This is so that the changes don’t impact gameplay negatively, whilst allowing their lovely work to be showcased in the best way. Communication is a skill that I don’t think is highlighted enough outside of the usual technical skills.

A screenshot from Somerville, with a man and his dog looking into a vast landscape

What project are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of one project in particular, called Sketch What You See (below). It’s a small 3D puzzle game that explores what it would be like to alter a space through matching sketches up to a 3D environment. It was my first time using the game engine Unity and putting an idea I had into a playable experience. This was also one of the first projects I made that gave me the confidence to try and work in the games industry.

Footage from the first puzzle in Jade’s demo for Sketch What You See

If you could pick one GIF to describe what it’s like to do your job, what would it be and why?
Bug fixing is a big part of the process closer to the end of a project and if I could sum it up in a nutshell, it would be this GIF (below). A lot of times you’ll fix a bug, and three more will show up – though it’s all part of the process and can actually be satisfying to figure out an especially tricky one! (Or it could also just be that a checkbox is unticked when it shouldn’t be... it’s a roll of the dice whether it’s something simple or complicated)

How I got here

How did you land the job?
I actually found out about this job through a colleague at Criterion, the first studio I was interning at. She had moved to a different studio and they were advertising a design internship which she recommended that I apply for. Though I was nervous and apprehensive at first, I sent in a cover letter and my CV. Two interviews later, I was offered the position; I’m really glad I applied!

As a tip, I’d say stay in contact with those you’ve worked with – whether that be an internship or a previous job. It’s a relatively small industry and you never know what opportunities will arise from it. Even in the initial steps when finding your first job, networking is a very important skill to pick up.

“Stay in contact with those you’ve worked with in an internship or previous job. You never know what opportunities will arise from it.”

What was your journey like when you were first starting out? Did you find your feet quickly?
I’d say it was tricky starting out at first in both my internships, but for different reasons. The Criterion role was in-person alongside being my first job and first time being a part of the industry, so it was a lot to adjust to. But everyone was super welcoming and lovely, so I found my feet pretty quickly once I jumped into it.

Jumpship was a little different – just before I started, I had been working in a game engine for my final year project at uni, so I had more experience and technical knowledge going into the role. However, because it is a remote position, it came with its own learning steps to adjust to because I'd never worked from home before. In both cases, once I got used to the environment, I think I found my feet pretty quickly.

BFV 01

The map of Halvøy from Battlefield V, a game Jade worked on as an intern at Criterion

Jade smith bfv 01

A scene from Battlefield V

Jadesmith bfv 03

A squad of players in a Schwimmwagen, a vehicle that can traverse through water, in Firestorm

Jade smith bfv 04

The port village Halvdeler from Battlefield V

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
I find that playing other games outside of the typical video games I enjoy can be really inspiring to my work. For example, I run a Dungeons and Dragons game with a few of my friends from university. This gives me an outlet where I get to describe a space and set the scene that doesn’t have to do with my usual blockouts [a rough draft game level built with simple 3D shapes], helping me to gain a new perspective when going back to my work.

In addition, a podcast that inspires me is the Level Design Lobby by Max Pears. The podcast uses games as case studies to discuss particular design mechanics and processes. It’s really useful for both experienced designers and those starting out, as it offers a lot of reading resources in digestible 30-minute snippets. I really enjoy the episodes about specific games I’ve played because it gets me thinking about them in a different way and I get a more in-depth appreciation for them.

Something that I find extremely useful for my work is having hobbies that aren’t directly related to it. For me, that’s pixel art and crocheting (bonus points if your hobby is away from screens!). It’s important to have creative outlets that are just for you. When the majority of your day is spent at a computer, it’s necessary to have breaks away from it.

“It’s important to have creative outlets that are just for you. When the majority of your day is spent at a computer, it’s necessary to have breaks away from it.”

Pixel Art Koi Pond

Jade’s pixel art: A top down view of a koi pond with two koi swimming in it

Pixel Art Gardening Scrapbook

Jade’s pixel art: A scrapbook page of bunny and bear characters she created

Pixel Art Cake

Jade’s pixel art: A slice of strawberry shortcake

What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
Imposter syndrome is a big one for me... especially when working from home, as it can be a lot easier to get into your own head about things and doubt your choices.

For example, it feels a lot less formal to lean across to someone’s computer and quickly ask a question, in comparison sending a message online, which can feel like a way bigger deal than it is. It’s something I definitely had to adjust to and remind myself that I’m on this project for a reason.

I think representation plays a part in the imposter syndrome too – it feels like there aren’t many female game designers to look up to for mentorship and advice. I hope I can be a part of that representation for other young female designers in the future.

“There aren’t many female game designers to look up to for advice. I hope I can be a part of that representation for other young female designers in the future.”

Jade’s home working set up

How important would you say social media and self-promotion are to your work?
I personally don’t use social media much for promoting my own work (but I do have a website for my portfolio, which I highly recommend setting up!). However, I do use it as a source of inspiration. There’s a hashtag that pops up every October called #blocktober which I always find so interesting to follow.

The entries are really diverse – from hobbyists challenging themselves to block out a level in a set amount of time, to developers revealing the blockouts to existing games that you might have played... it’s always really interesting to see!

I do see that there might be an importance for social media in other areas of games though – especially if you are freelance or working on an indie game, having an online presence can really help with getting your work noticed for bigger opportunities.

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be nervous to ask questions, especially starting out – and ask them often!

This took a bit of getting used to for me, especially in a working-from-home setting because it’s very easy to get stuck on a problem since you are on your own. I’ve found that asking someone else for advice, or even just talking it through with someone, can solve problems a lot faster!

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
Create personal work, whether that’s starting something from scratch, or, if you’re doing a degree related to games, building on one of those projects. They can go a long way in making your portfolio stand out. Making these projects small in scope (game jams can be great for this!) can help make it easier for you to finish them.

Also, document your process – sometimes showing how you got to the finished project can be just as important as the project itself.

Interview by Frankie Faccion
Mention Jade Smith