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Dennis Presnell Interview (pg. 2)

Dorn - a computer graphic closeup of a hero from Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance 2.
Courtesy of Interplay

If you've ever wanted to get into the game business, 3D Game Artist, Dennis Presnell is dishing it up on what it takes, what it's like and what he does. Check it out!

Gary: How did you get into the business of making games?
Dennis: I took a risk and turned in an application to Interplay as a game tester. I was accepted so I took another big risk, quit my current job and took a lower-paying job as a game tester. I started as a tester and, after a little less than two years, became a senior level tester before I moved on to a designer internship at Black Isle. I had that for a few months and now, a few years later, I'm an artist at Black Isle.

Gary: Whoa, that's pretty risky to leave a good job like that. Okay, the big question is how much money do you make?
Dennis: It can be really low for entry level, depending on your experience level and skill. I started out at less than $30,000 US a year. As you gain more experience and skills, there are some artists in senior positions who earn as much as $80-90,000 US per year. Starting as a game tester I was making very little money, it's a job that doesn't pay much. I'm not absolutely positive what industry standard is for a mid-level artist.

Gary: What's it like working for a game company?
Dennis: This place is full of great people, but some of the strangest people that you'll ever meet. From outside the industry you might expect us to look or behave like the comic book guy from The Simpsons. There is a little bit of that, but most of the people in the game industry are just regular people who like games.

The game community is very small. Every company you go to, you'll know someone there. A lot of people at work are friends outside of work. The social scene is kind of like college or high school. It can be a really great place to work and it's really fun, but there's a lot of hard work.

Gary: Do you have any final words for the kids here at Kidzworld?
Dennis: If I had anything to say to kids I'd say, don't think the game biz is out of your reach. If you want to be in the game industry and you're willing to work, there is a place for you. If anyone out there is creative and likes to draw, don't let people tell you that there's no future in it. Keep your feet on the ground but don't turn off your imagination. It can be tough and there are long hours but it's a great place to work and you meet some really great people.

Thanks for chatting with me, Dennis! The game business seems like a really cool place to work, but it sure sounds like a lot more work than you'd expect though.

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