What do you get when you combine Papier-mâché, TOP SECRET projects and copious amounts of caffeine? Iván González, an arts graduate on the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme, takes us inside the world of Hide&Seek, a game design studio dedicated to inventing new kinds of play.
For the past three months I’ve been working as Hide&Seek’s Trainee Producer. Since Day One “write a blog” has been on my to-do list, but as I have a natural aversion to writing them and it was quite far down the list (very far down, actually) I’ve only just got round to it now…
Anyway, to get on with the blog, I graduated from Royal Holloway in 2009 – which, according to everyone, was the worst year to graduate until 2010 came along and everything was still bad – and for a year and a half I’d been attempting to get a job that not only paid the bills, but was something I was proud of too. Now I’m sure everyone is thinking that with a 2:1 in Drama and Theatre Studies, I’d just fall into financial security but that sadly wasn’t the case. Although I was (and still am) actively pursuing the lucrative avenues of theatre (with the company non zero one) and comedy (as one half of Max and Iván), I also had to work in retail.
This was until the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme came along and offered up the opportunity of paid traineeships at a vast array of arts organisations. Although I must admit I did apply to a couple of the jobs on offer before discovering Hide&Seek, it was the role of Trainee Producer at this organisation that most excited me.
Even during the selection process, when I was issued the task “find out something about Hide&Seek without using the internet”, I had the feeling that working here would be a bit different. Naturally I put on my best Hispanic accent, called up pretending to be Frederico, a student writing for a university magazine, and demanded to know various things including what animal the company would be and why (a peregrine falcon, apparently).
Much to my relief, my actions were taken in good humour and two interviews later I found myself starting a six-month contract. The first week was a bit of a blur – not because I don’t remember it, but because the pace everyone worked at was quite frankly a lot faster than I’d expected.
My first impressions were pretty basic:
1. Some knew quite a few long words (and weren’t afraid to use them);
2. Most wore glasses;
3. Everyone was powered by a high amount of caffeine.
As a man who preferred to read trashy coffee table books (with short words), had 20/20 vision and drank decaf tea, I instantly felt slightly out of my depth.
However any worries I may have had instantly dissipated as I began to work with the small, welcoming group of superbly diverse characters. It didn’t take me long to feel part of the team, and although I won’t bore you with every task I was assigned, here’s a list of my highlights so far:
1. Assembling the office sofa on my first day;
2. Organising and attending the Megas karaoke after-party;
3. Working on location for the photo-shoot of a TOP SECRET project;
4. Playtesting stuff (that means actually being given the job of playing);
5. Researching strange and interesting topics for TOP SECRET projects;
6. Being able to say I’m working on something TOP SECRET;
7. Processing receipts (my favourite).
I’ve learned some amazing insights over the short period spent here and can’t wait to see what the next three months at Hide&Seek will provide. I’m already looking forward to putting on my best Scottish accent for a TOP SECRET project, going to Berlin’s first international street games festival, You are GO!, and working on a stag’s head made out of Papier-mâché whenever I have the time.
I’m eternally grateful to the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Kate Danielson for running the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme which “focuses on offering opportunities for individuals from less affluent backgrounds who are least able to support themselves through unpaid internships, work experience or training”. It astounds me that in this economic climate such opportunities still exist.
It should also be noted that in just three months I have learned quite a few long words, my eyesight has deteriorated a bit and I can’t function in the morning without a cup of coffee. Progress!
Hide&Seek weekender photo ©Alex Simmons.