Have you ever wanted to work in video games? Many EA interns go on to grow their careers at EA, and we’ll be looking at a few new faces that have recently joined EA in this series.
Afshin Haidari-Khabbaz worked on the Frostbite Engine through multiple releases as an intern while still managing to pursue his love of acting on the side. The key, they say, is balance. As a 4th year Engineering Physics major, Afshin focused on the Frostbite Animation and Cinematics team.
A thespian, physicist and an animal lover, we’re thrilled to have Afshin returning as a new grad in May 2015!
Where were you doing when you found out you would be receiving a scholarship?
I was in a room with the CTO for a one on one! That's quite a place to be as a Co-op student with just under a year of work experience at EA.
What are you working on at EA?
As an intern, I have been working on Frostbite – the game engine used in many of EA's titles. Now, I am completing my last year of Engineering Physics at UBC before I return to EA fulltime in May 2015. I'll be working in EA Studios in Burnaby, B.C.
How did you first get interested in videogames?
I had a Super Nintendo when I was eight years old, just when all the other kids got their N64's. I absolutely loved Nintendo, but I couldn't figure out why "Smash Brothers" on Super Nintendo was a weird, two-person shooting game, while all my other friends were playing this exciting "Super Smash Brothers" game on N64. So I sought to convince my parents to get me an N64, and the answer was "No"… until I got straight A's in my next report card.
I tried, but every term I had at least one B (funny enough, in Math and Science usually). I finally got straight A’s and a ticket to the glorious world of Super Smash Brothers! Of course, by this time the GameCube had just come out.
What have you had the most fun doing at EA?
The official answer is coding. Unofficially, it was playing with my coworkers' dogs.
Seriously though, I love the idea of improving user experience. It's interesting to work with animation tools, knowing that your work is going to be used by other technical artists or engineers.
The easier it is for the artist to move from concept to implementation, the more time he or she has to make the art look fantastic. I found this way of thinking extremely satisfying.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to break into the industry?
I find that the most nerve-wracking part of the industry tends to be the interview. When you're trying to break into this industry, you're going to be bringing forward your brainpower, your talent, your education, and hopefully your passion. And when you do this, many times you're going to be told 'No'. You'll face a ton of rejection. At least I did: I had 10 interviews the week that I had my first EA interview. Of those 10, only three responded back to me.
I arrived at my EA interview having just been destroyed at an intense, technical interview. Yet somehow, I made it through the EA process. What I learned in all of this is that any place worth your talent will not treat the interview as a "pass/fail". The interview is a dialogue. In my EA interview, I answered many questions 'wrong'. But I knew when I was starting to talk about stuff I didn't know, and I turned to my interviewer and said "okay, this is the limit of my knowledge, but you tell me X and Y, and then we move forward to the solution." And once we got to the solution, we discussed alternatives.
Be self-aware and don't try to be "right". Let yourself make mistakes without that nervousness taking over. Try to be honest. And "I don't know" is never honest.
If you weren’t working in videogames, what would you be doing?
I'd have a doggy daycare and play spend the whole day playing with dogs. Either that, stage-acting, or astrophysics.
What do you hope to be working on in ten years?
At the end of the day, I am looking to work my way into engineering leadership. In 10 years, I hope to have the necessary skills to drive projects forward as a lead. I want to bring and hone my knowledge of physics to help develop ultra-realistic (and efficient) physics simulations in EA games. I'd like to be a part of that initiative and eventually move into leadership.
Lightning round: One-word answers, please. Favorite videogame of all time?
The Mass Effect Trilogy.
What do you do after work to relax or distress?
Where did you go to school?
University of British Columbia.
What is your gaming platform of choice?
What is the first game you remember playing?
Super Mario World on SNES.
Want to work in video games? Visit careers.ea.com.
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