Many of you have asked “How do you get into Flash gaming as a career”. This is a very open ended question, and I could regurgitate what a bunch of books or online sites tell you… but instead I decided to go straight to the source. Hero Interactive has an award winning staff, so who better to tell the story of Flash game involvement than them?

What will happen is simple, each week for the next few weeks I will ask a series of questions to each HI team member, and then just post what they say. Up first is Eric, this is his story about how he became involved, what steps he took and some advice for those interested in game development.

So here is Eric’s story.

When did you first get interested in Flash games?

I became interested in Flash games by first becoming interested in Flash. Throughout high school and college I’d spent most of my time learning, teaching, and attempting to perfect my digital talents – be it web design, animation, 3D art/animation, audio/video production, etc. I loved how the web could pull it all together. This lead me mostly in the direction of video and web design at first, then Flash web design, and then ultimately Flash game design, bringing everything together from all corners. I became friends with Jared in college, somehow ended up getting an internship at Hero Interactive in 2008, learned a ton and had a lot of fun. The rest is history. I subcontracted for Hero for the remainder of college, at which point I relocated to Hero’s main office, and came on full-time as lead developer.

What programming language did you learn first? And then next? And so on.

My first coding experiences, oddly enough, were making simple RPGs on my TI-86 graphing calculator in high school, and exploring the world of macro viruses.. But, I’d say I didn’t really start “coding” until I started getting into web design. Throughout high school I used a lot of HTML/XHTML/XML, CSS, PHP, Javascript, etc., and then throughout college I moved on to learning languages such as C++, Java, VB, Lingo, Mel, AS2/AS3, etc.

What degree did you go after?

I originally went to Central Michigan University as a music major, but quickly decided that I didn’t want to ruin music for myself by making it something I’d rely on in the future to make a living. I turned to my easy second choice: computers. I got a BS in Information Technology and Media, Design, Production & Technology w/Media focus from Central Michigan University.

What did you learn during school that you felt was important?

One big thing I learned, specific to my scenario as I attended a college with only one game design course in the the curriculum, is that books are wonderful and experience is everything. There are a ton of amazing programming, design, and theory books out there that you can use to better your skills. I always wished I’d realized this at an earlier age, as there are 16 year old kids these days way better at what I do than me. Having said that, experience is what puts that knowledge to use. College, internships, jobs in my field, and doing a LOT of web work and experiments on my own and with friends is what I account my true knowledge-base to.

What did you learn post-school that you felt was important?

That learning doesn’t end when school does. I think I probably read and research more right now than I ever did in school.. The nice thing about learning now is that it’s completely directed by what I want to learn instead of deadlines and due dates. Learning under deadlines is necessary and powerful, as there’s much of it in the real world, but stress-less learning is a thing of beauty and promotes more of itself.

What would you recommend learning/doing to those hoping to get into Flash games?

Start now. If you can read this, you’re likely old enough to get started learning at least the basics and moving forward from there. Don’t be afraid to fail a lot. You’ll learn from it. Sometimes you have to do LOTS of work before something just clicks for you in a specific area. Get reading, seek an education, and find friends that are into what you’re into so that you can fuel each other while potentially building powerful business relationships for the future.

The Flash gaming industry and the gaming industry in general has a tendency to be fairly competitive. If it’s what you want to do, don’t let competition stop you. Commit to it. Make a decision that you’ll do what you have to do to get where you want to be, then do it. Give yourself a well-rounded education. Don’t focus solely on one aspect of your passion, get to know how everything it’s associated with works. It’ll give you a powerful edge and help you to better understand your craft.

- Eric