TheXPerts: Meet Matt Freedman

TheXPerts: Meet Matt Freedman

Welcome to our first Member Spotlight at TheXPlace, featuring a unique twist: a self-interview with one of our most esteemed professional members, Matt Freedman. This edition provides an intimate, in-depth look at Matt's journey, narrated in his own words, offering a personal perspective on his remarkable career in the game dev industry.

๐Ÿ“œ Bio

I'm a 20-year game design veteran, starting as a QA tester and working my way up to design directing for an entire studio. I've worked on multiple AAA projects, such as Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2, as well as smaller indie projects.  I started an independent company to truly test my skills, and then I was able to pivot into directing. Most recently, I worked as a design director at Blackbird Games on a large project. I've always had a passion for gameplay and supporting team members and I look forward to growing my capacity more into the future.

๐Ÿ† Overcoming Challenges

Fun will naturally emerge if players are given a well-structured 'play' experience with minimal cognitive friction. It took me a lot of trial and error to learn this, and eventually, I developed a very high sensitivity to customer frustration and confusion. 

๐ŸŒŸ Proudest Moment

Helping to create effective design teams and enable designers to begin successful careers.

๐Ÿ’ช Secret Weapon

I have good knowledge of cognitive science and psychology combined with a very intense focus on quality and player experience. My secret weapon is studying the work of Jean Piaget and Victor Frankl.

Expertise to Share:
โ€ข Helping to establish a best-in-class gameplay loop and fun player experience
โ€ข Helping to build out your team's design expertise
Open to:
โ€ข Consulting/advisory opportunities, Speaking opportunities, and Mentoring

๐Ÿช„ Creative Process

I work to establish the essence of the experience, how player choice factors into that experience, and how the gameplay mechanics will support that player choice. Once that is understood, I work to define the most elegant system of gameplay rules to reflect those mechanics.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿคโ€๐Ÿง‘ Team Dynamics

I always see design as being a service department, we are here to enable the player and to help present the best of other teams. I want to understand how design can best enable the work of other departments so they can bring their best, and also for them to have a clear understanding of what design also needs to be successful.

๐Ÿงฐ Technology and Tools

Playtesting, a whiteboard, clarity of purpose, and keen attention to detail.

  • Playtesting lets you know what players actually think of your game
  • The whiteboard is really useful to troubleshooting tough design problems
  • Clarity of Purpose is critical so everyone knows what you're trying to make
  • Keen Attention to Detail helps you push your quality bar so you can stand apart from the crowd

๐Ÿ’ก Advice for Aspiring Professionals

Make an actual game and release it to an audience. It can be something simple with only 5 minutes of gameplay, but you will learn so much doing that, it will set you apart from the pack.

Also, be willing to start in a junior roleโ€”even QA is an excellent starting position. You can work your way up from there. You will learn far more on the job at an actual company than from the outside.

Work-life balance is essential. Know what pace you are comfortable working at; it's different for every person.

Be open to criticism. If you want to be the smartest person in the room, you limit everyone to what you know, making it impossible to grow. The best people always look for their mistakes and how to grow and learn from them.

Meet Matt on TheXPlace here

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