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Game on – How university helped Tom level up as a games industry professional

Date 29.03.2021

Before joining University, Tom Craddock had limited understanding of how to make a video game – now he’s a skilled graduate working for one of the UK’s biggest development studios.

The three years he spent studying Games Art at the University of Northampton saw him go from games-making beginner, to exactly the sort of professional the industry wants to recruit.

After graduating in 2019, Tom’s portfolio of university work secured him an interview with Sumo Digital: a Bafta-winning game developer with 10 studios across England, Poland and India.

He landed the role of Junior Artist at Sumo’s Leamington Spa studio, and has never looked back – apart from to reflect on the value of his university training, of course. Tom’s pictured on the left with his Sumo colleagues.

“I was a complete beginner when I started university,” said Tom. “I was an artist already, sure, but I knew nothing about 3D modelling or making games.

“The Games Art course is what I owe my current circumstances to, as it really jump-started my career in the games industry and I don’t think I would be where I am today without it. The course taught me all the essentials that I needed to simply comprehend what it meant to create games. I learnt how processes tied together and how to apply my artistic creativity into that format.

“University gave me what I needed to get into the industry, to get the experience and knowledge I need to keep growing.”

The Games Art academics at the University of Northampton are held in high esteem by Tom, who said: “They are all experienced artists and game developers, always looking to push us further as students.

“They provide opportunities to choose your path, your specialism and ultimately what you want to do in the industry, all the while trying to make sure you retain the essential information required to put your skills into practice.”

Tom continues to enjoy being part of the team at Sumo since joining as a Junior Artist. Founded in Sheffield in 2004, the company has worked across a host of classic console titles, including Team Sonic Racing, LittleBigPlanet 3 and its spin-off title Sackboy: A Big Adventure, the F1 series of racing games – and the soon-to-be-released Hood: Outlaws & Legends (watch the trailer below).

“Naturally, a lot of what a Junior Artist does is to support development and learning,” said Tom.

“I work in all sorts of areas as I’m a bit of generalist, but I produce assets and artwork and try to advance my technical skills whilst doing so.

“I love the workplace culture at Sumo. It has a relaxed and understanding atmosphere, which gives us all a sense of pride and I feel lucky to work in such a great environment.

“The sheer amount that I have learned since being here is amazing. I think that being in the industry grows you as a person, as my skills now are incomparable to what I knew when I joined.”

While Tom is still enjoying his junior role, he is considering exploring the career paths of a Character Modeller or Concept Artist. He added: “These roles are a bit more technically scary, but that’s not a reason to not pursue it. I consider it as a challenge to overcome.”

Tom’s Favourite Game

We asked Tom for his all-time favourite game:  

“I would probably say Warcraft III, because it has great nostalgia value to me, not to mention great mechanics and story. But, Sid Meier’s Civilisation has also taken many, many hours from my life, an embarrassing amount really, so it would be one of those two for sure.”