The Internship Chronicles: Riley Dickerson

By: Riley Dickerson, Game Production ’21

When I first interviewed for the position over Discord with my boss Martin Bradstreet, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this position. I knew I’d be the marketing intern, but I had no idea what that truly entailed until weeks later when I visited the company. Martov was much more than I had originally thought it would be. To truly understand my experiences in the studio, it’s important to talk about its origins.

Martov is an indie VR game studio in Montreal, Quebec, and it was created in 2016 by Martin Bradstreet. Martin, who’s a former high-stakes poker player, was interested in VR when he had tried it in 2015. When the internet poker industry began to weaken and fade away, he decided it would be a good idea to try his hand at indie VR game development. Fast forward two years to 2018, and they released Chiaro and the Elixir of Life, which won awards for its beautiful graphics.

When I was doing my research into the company, the thing I came to really value was the size of the studio. While indie studios are known for being small, this was an intimate group of 8 to 10 people who all shared the same working space. I really valued that kind of interpersonal connection, and it’s what I think really made this experience fun. I didn’t feel like I was surrounded by tons of strangers who were leagues more qualified than I was, but rather I felt like a friend among friends.

Something you learn really quick about working at an indie development studio is that you have to wear multiple hats. For example, the first day I was there, I writing key points of interest, and looking at data analytics. The next day, I was putting together stuff that could get posted on instagram. For the first two weeks, it was like I was doing a different task every day I’d came in. I had done QA testing for their new game FORGED, to make sure everything was working properly in the arena levels. I was recording in-game footage of the combat, and then editing the footage to create a trailer for the Canadian Media Fund. I was taking photos in-game for the instagram page to showcase levels, while also making thoughtful lore-related captions for the photos. I researched the possibility of doing a mixed reality VR trailer for Chiaro, and learned about different programs that would help us bring it to life. I made a document outlining a potential kickstarter, which would help the team get more funds for the project. I was even one of the leads on an internal league that would play the game every week against one another, to test for bugs and other issues. 

The point behind the rambling about what I did, is that I was much more than a Marketing Intern. I learned a lot about many programs I don’t think I’d be using otherwise (like Unreal Engine, Perforce, and even programs in the Adobe Suite). With little guidance and direction, I was nervous about what I’d truly be taking away from this internship. Thankfully though, whenever I needed to ask a question, I was always swiftly given an answer. 

My biggest challenge was working without direct guidance from my supervisor, Martin. Everyday I’d walk in, I would be expected to work, but it was never truly clear what it was I needed to work on. That didn’t stop me from keeping myself busy though, as I would always find tasks to do, sequences to film, or things to write. However, If I walked in and he said “I need you to make a post for Saturday”, I’d get to my computer, open slack, and start talking with the artist to figure out what we would put on the Instagram page. I think what this experience truly taught me is autonomy, and going off a simple task and seeing it through. 

Another challenge I faced was learning how to use the sequencer in Unreal Engine. Before I came to this internship, the only time I’d ever opened up or ran a game engine program (like Unity or UE) was to test the games my team was working on. I’d never actually had to navigate the program at all, but that all changed once I started at Martov. I was making scenes, taking screenshots, recording actors, and maneuvering the camera in a few hours. It was really tough to get the hang of, since there would be errors and issues that I had no idea how to fix, but that changed as I continued to make more and more sequences.

Now that I’ve been doing this job for a few months, I think I have a much better and more clear idea of what can be expected of me as a Gamer Producer and Manager / Marketing Intern. I’ve learned valuable skills from the people around me, and got to have hands on experience actually marketing things to people. While I didn’t come into the internship expecting to do more than just marketing, I’m glad I’ve learned about all the other branches of work that can be done. 

I can’t wait to take the skills that I learned here with me throughout my journey in the game industry, because of how many things I had done. I want to refine these newfound skills, and use them to become a better producer and team manager. Regardless if I find myself at another indie studio or a larger company, I think all of the programs I’ve learned and methods I’ve learned will still come in handy.