Developer Spotlight: Magali Stretton, Senior Level Designer
Can you give us a quick introduction about who you are and what you do at Crystal Dynamics?
My name is Magali Stretton, and I am a senior level designer at Crystal Dynamics.
What games have you worked on both at Crystal Dynamics and other companies, and what was your role on those projects?
I joined Crystal a little over six years ago where I started to work on Marvel’s Avengers. I primarily worked on the Avengers Initiative, and my role was to work with the systems we had to build, manage, and maintain some of the game’s multiplayer missions. What an experience this turned out to be! I can definitively say that I learnt a lot through this process and I am now a better level designer for it.
Prior to being at Crystal, I spent nine years working at Rocksteady Studios on the Batman franchise, including Arkham Asylum, Arkham City and Arkham Knight. The good people at Rocksteady gave me a chance in this industry, and I was very fortunate to learn my craft as a level designer working on these three games. On these projects, I learned how to use my creativity to bring levels from conception to completion and how to deliver gaming experiences that best fit the creative vision of the franchise.
What led you to working in the video games industry?
The inner belief and passion that video games are an amazing art form that can provide people with unique and highly immersive experience.
On a more pragmatic level, I just wanted to make games that I wanted to play 😊…
I’ve always loved games but was sad to see that at the time many games seemed to focus on shooting at things or running around doing stuff without any real meaning, when what I wanted was to experience compelling stories and feel the full range of the human emotions while playing games. People around me used to tell me that if I wanted emotion and stories that I should watch movies or read a book, and that video games couldn’t do that. A few also told me that games were for boys and because I was a girl then that might be why I couldn’t really appreciate them, though my heart said otherwise.
And then, luckily for me, I played a game called ICO and I cried, not because it was hard but because of the emotional journey the game got me through, which was like something you get in movies and in books, and I knew then that people were wrong. I decided to follow my heart, change my life, and get involved in game development.
The rest is many happy years working in this awesome creative industry that keeps on proving again and again that games are an awesome art form that can make people feel and cry!
What's your earliest gaming memory?
Nintendo! still, always, and forever Nintendo 😊!
I had a Mickey Mouse game on a Nintendo console that I loved, but I think Tetris on the Gameboy was my first real game addiction!
What do you wish everyone knew about game development?
That you don’t need to know how to code to make video games! It’s a creative industry that relies on people with many different skills. Also, that if you are truly passionate about games and you feel like this is the only thing you want to do in life, then surely there’s a job for you and you will find your place in that awesome and still-evolving industry!
What is your favorite thing about working at Crystal Dynamics?
The people! The developers at Crystal are so fantastic and so talented! Crystal is a place with a heart and soul. It’s a family. Of course, there’s ups and downs, but in the end it’s the people you work with who make the difference! The people who carry you when you’re down and the ones who inspire you and push you to the next level.
Can you give our community a hint at something fun you're currently working on?
All I can say is that I am super excited by what we’re working on, and I feel so lucky and grateful to be part of such a super talented team!
If you could give a prospective Crystal Dynamics employee one bit of advice, what would it be?
I guess I’ll advise anyone to follow how they feel in their heart. If you like the games Crystal makes and if after the interviews you feel a connection with the people you’ve met, then come and join us. Working at Crystal can be intense and demanding but one thing is for sure: it’s never boring! You might even make great friends along the way 😊.
Who are your heroes?
My parents for raising me to believe that there’s nothing I can’t do in this world if I work hard enough, keep looking forward and follow my heart, and my kids for helping me grow and become a better person.
Anything you want to say to our community?
Yes! Thank you sooo much for being here! You are part of the journey that makes a game what it is. Working on a game for many years means nothing until you play it. And if you ever wonder if your feedback or your comments matter, they do! We work hard to create gaming experiences that you can enjoy so it means the world to know that you do. And if you like what we do I keep having a job. If you don’t, well, it is my job to listen to what you’re telling us so that we can make better games.