The Beat

UR_Blog_Banner.jpg POSTED BY EA Staff ON May 1, 2013

EA New Grad Q&A: Bradley Buchanan

Every summer, EA awards scholarships to EA interns and co-ops in honor of retired Board Members Dick Asher, Tim Mott and Gary Kusin, with an additional scholarship added this year for Linda Srere. 

EA awards two $10,000 and three $5,000 scholarships to the applicants that best demonstrated passion, potential and financial need.   Students were asked to submit essays on why they deserve the scholarship, why they want to work at EA, along with their transcripts, a recommendation letter from a manager or studio executive and their midpoint evaluation. The five recipients were determined by a panel of judges comprised of some of our top executives and talent experts at EA.

We wanted to not only congratulate all of our recipients this year but also give you a look inside of what it’s like to be a new graduate and joining the ranks of EA. For the next few weeks we’ll feature Q&As with our scholarship winners.

The first comes from Bradley Buchanan, a software engineer at PopCap:

How did you find out that you would be receiving a scholarship?

With a phone call from Dave Roberts [General Manager] of PopCap WorldWide!  Our intern program director Kimberly arranged the call, and I just thought it was some kind of "welcome to the company" part of the New Grad program.  I'd actually almost forgotten that I applied for the scholarship.  So it was a real shock when he told me I was a scholarship winner!

How will receiving the scholarship impact your life?

Well, I'm applying it all directly to my graduate school loans so it's going to cut a significant chunk out of my monthly loan payments.  This scholarship has definitely given me confidence that I can live in the Bay Area and pursue my dream to be a part of this industry going forward.

What was the most valuable part of your EA internship?

How do I pick just one?  The first thing that comes to mind is that my internship was my first experience working with a professional game studio.  I'd done student projects before, but a lot changes when you go from six people working on a fifteen week project to a large team on a full-scale EA title.  Being given the opportunity to participate in development, learn the rhythms of studio life and see how a project on this scale is managed - it made a huge difference in my graduate work, and confirmed that game development is where I want to be.

What has surprised you the most about working at EA?

After spending time both with PopCap SF and the Chief Creative Office, I'm totally convinced - the number of passionate people I've met here who are creating quality games and quality lives just blows me away.  The way you share knowledge and experience is amazing too. I can honestly tell people that I'm a better engineer than I was three months ago because I'm working for EA.  That's pretty cool.

What are you working on now and what's your favorite part of the job?

I'm working on Plants vs. Zombies Adventures, our newest entry to the PvZ franchise, coming to a Facebook near you... soon!  Lately I've been implementing user experience adjustments and fixing bugs in response to some of our closed beta feedback.  For me, one of the best parts of the job is watching the game evolve over time - our studio leadership has done a great job of periodically reminding us of how far we've come, and I had the unique opportunity of working on the title during my internship and then seeing the dramatic change when I returned several months later.  That process, of creating something new and periodically stepping back to look at it, is so rewarding to me.

What lessons have you learned since joining the team?

Besides technical stuff?  The team does an awesome job keeping meetings out of the way of productive time, which is a practice I'd like to carry forward to other teams.  They also have made the importance of frequent estimation very clear - the producers are able to plan and organize the team very effectively when we all help with estimation.

As a new graduate, what do you think you bring to the table that may be different than a veteran?

Only a little bit, but maybe it will help!  I've found that my experience with web technologies and scripting languages is valuable on my team, where a lot of people have a more traditional application development background.  Sometimes I'd like to think that my lack of experience leads me to unusual solutions.  But I think the most valuable thing may be my education from CMU; their program is focused at the unique interpersonal skills that work in game development, and teaching many of the lessons that current industry veterans had to learn the hard way.  I'm hoping that head-start of industry experience will let me reach farther five and ten years from now.

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