Careers

Unusual careers: this woman designs video games for a living

Posted by
Chloe Gray
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Jodie Azhar of Teazlecat Games.

Work/Life is Stylist’s regular column about the professional routines of successful women. Here, video game designer, Jodie Azhar, takes us through her one-day diary, from morning latte to lights-out.

Jodie Azhar, 32, is a technical video game artist. She launched her own company, Teazelcat Games, in 2018. She lives in West Sussex with her partner and cat.

MY ALARM GOES OFF…

At 6.30am. But rather than an alarm clock, it’s my cat crawling on me to get fed.

I HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON…

Never. I get straight up and do a 30-minute Yoga With Adriene video because I like to move before I spend the day sat at my desk. I’ll have breakfast, usually eggs and avocado on rye, and throw on something comfortable.

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MY COMMUTE IS…

The stairs! I work from home most days. Once I shut the door, I’m in work mode for eight hours.

I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR…

As the founder of Teazelcat Games, everything! But right now, I’m focused on directing our debut product: a story-driven game in which you explore a world and characters to uncover different parts of the story. I work on both the technical programming and the artistic design, which is unusual in my industry. This is our first project, so I am the sole full-time developer, but I hire contractors for the areas I’m not so skilled in, such as a music composer to write the soundtrack.

I GOT THE JOB…

After studying computer visualisation and animation at university. I’d always loved video games and animated films, and I realised that somebody had to make them. I got a job as a junior animator and worked my way up to technical art director. I went on to establish my own studio because I wanted to work on games that tell stories from the perspectives of people and cultures that are underrepresented. I also wanted to avoid combat, because I think people miss out on playing games with amazing stories because they’re put off by the violence.

Jodie Azhar has always loved video games and animated films.
Jodie Azhar has always loved video games and animated films.

MY TYPICAL DAY…

Starts with emails with contractors. Then it depends on where we’re at with the project. Early on in the process I was working on the narrative and conceptualising the characters. Right now, it’s the programming. I try to focus on one task at a time, rather than jumping around. I don’t have a set lunch break, but I do take time out to clear my head, even if that’s just heating up a tin of soup. Occasionally, I might go into London to talk to publishers or meet people in the industry.

WHEN I’M TIRED OR STRESSED I…

Get creative – designing the visuals, or doing things away from a screen like playing the piano.

Doing something creative helps Josie relieve stress.
Doing something creative helps Josie relieve stress.

MY MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT…

Was in 2016 when I was named as one of Bafta’s Breakthrough Brits. You have to nominate yourself for the award (which goes to 20 people in TV, film and gaming) and it was the first time I had to really sell myself. The awards ceremony was very glamorous with lots of celebrities, but more importantly, they give you a year’s mentorship. I got to meet experts in my field and that gave me the confidence to start my own company.

MY WORST WORK HABIT IS…

Distracting myself with snacks.

AFTER WORK…

I run a group called POC In Play, which aims to highlight the work of people of colour in the games industry. One night a week, I’ll work on that. Then I’ll cook dinner – I’m half Malay so it’s usually something like a laksa soup. I’ll head to bed at around 11pm and read a fantasy novel until I fall asleep.

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My Plan B: development consultant

I’d be in the same industry because I love gaming so much. But rather than making my own, I’d probably be helping others to make their dream game. I’m just excited by all the interesting things people in my industry are doing.

Images: Gemma Day

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Chloe Gray

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