Turn your curiosity into action before inspiration fades - Carl Leducq | S1E4

Carl is a games producer and podcaster. We talk about how learning to make short gameplay montages of Call of Duty 4 during high school set him on a squiggly path from film to social media content creation, and eventually into the games industry.
Turn your curiosity into action before inspiration fades - Carl Leducq | S1E4

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🎙 About the Episode

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Key Topics

  • Why learning how to edit gameplay montages of Call of Duty 4 as a teenager helped Carl more than anything he took from studying at school
  • How Carl's passion for storytelling took him from film to being a social media content creator and eventually into the games industry
  • How Carl overcame his self-doubts by taking action, following his curiosity and putting himself out there
  • How Carl uses keeps himself energised by finding a community of people who share his curiosity and excitement and motivate him to keep taking action

Detours and Tangents

  • What's involved in being a games producer
  • Skills necessary to succeed in the games industry
  • Games for education

Recorded 28 September 2021


🥣 Episode Digest

Carl's Squiggly Career

  • In his final year of high school, Carl had no idea what he wanted to do. He wasn’t a Straight-A student, the school environment didn’t really suit him and he was just trying to get good grades and get by.
  • Carl loved playing games in his spare time and had learned how to edit gameplay footage from Call of Duty 4 and set it to music to create cool montage clips.
  • Carl interpreted this enjoyment as a passion for editing and storytelling, which led him to study film in the hopes of becoming a director and screenwriter.
  • He couldn’t find a career path in film, but he stayed passionate about storytelling. He learned how to film basic videos and got heavily involved in YouTube and Instagram in the early days of those platforms, in hopes of becoming a videographer and content creator.
  • Carl struggled as a freelancer and eventually decided he needed some stable income. He was fortunate to find an opportunity to work in a game studio as a quality assurance tester.
  • Once he was in the game studio environment, it occurred to Carl how much games had been a huge part of his childhood and ultimately the driving force behind his curiosity to explore creative media. He was surprised to realise he had never really considered games as a career path.
  • Carl moved to Canada for a couple of years (that’s another story), before returning to NZ in 2018 and re-entering the game industry (again as a QA tester), where he felt renewed self-confidence that this was the right place for him.
  • He started to proactively reach out to more people in the NZ games industry and get involved in various projects that were happening. While not an artist or a programmer, Carl’s aptitude for communicating, initiating action and co-ordinating with people meant he was eventually able to find a position as a production co-ordinator at a game studio in Auckland.
  • Carl worked to develop social proof of his skills as a producer in a tangible way by working on side hobby projects where he would bring some talented artists, programmers and sound designers together to work on concepts he put together and co-ordinate over the finishing line.
  • He applied to be on the board of the NZ Game Developers Association – a volunteer organisation with open member voting – but didn’t get enough votes. He still kept engaging and this led to an opportunity to write the monthly newsletter for the NZGDA. Soon after, one of the board members had to step down and this led to Carl taking up a position on the board.
  • The NZGDA board position kick-started a whole flood of other skills for Carl, such as communicating at a government level and co-ordinating events and programs including the NZ Game Developers Conference and Kiwi GameStart early stage funding program for studios.
  • In 2021, Carl started a weekly gamedev podcast as he felt there was a lack of content in that space. (He’s since discovered several good similar podcasts in that space that, if he’d known about them beforehand, meant he probably wouldn’t have started his own! But he’s glad he did). He wanted to find something to sink his teeth into and produce on a consistent basis. The podcast gives him a vehicle to network with interesting game developers and satisfy his curiosity about various aspects of the industry.

🧶 The Red Thread

  • Carl never saw himself as particularly academically intelligent or a prodigy in any sense. “I didn't feel like there was anything else I could go off other than just doing over and over again.”
  • Carl finds the solution to most of his problems in getting hands-on and taking action.
  • Taking action has helped him overcome his self doubts and develop the self-confidence to put himself out there, take risks, reach out to people and seize opportunities when they arise.
  • “Curiosity is a main thread through my life. I truly believe that if you're following your curiosity, that time you spend will never become useless.”
  • Carl is energised by finding a community of people who share his curiosity and excitement for something, and this shared energy in turn motivates him to keep taking action.
  • “Once you find someone who’s proven they're curious about something, you can just see them light up. You feel like you're communicating human to another human, it's not robotic anymore. It's not stale. It's not saturated. It's alive, it's thriving. Curiosity to me is that feeling of being excited and that thing that gets you into a state of flow. That's what I love finding in others.”

Decisive Moments

  • The time of his life he spent making short gameplay montages during high school was incredibly formative for Carl. It took him a long time to produce anything and he would whole nights in a flow state working on small parts of the project in great detail.
  • A lot of projects went unfinished after the initial burst of inspiration had faded or the results were not measuring up to Carl’s expectations. He wishes he had kept the unfinished projects to look back on and learn from, and this made Carl realise the importance of documenting things.
  • He also realised that the people who succeeded in the film industry were those who put themselves out there who produced short films on the weekends, who networked really well. It wasn't so much how good you were. It was just about finding the right people doing the right things.
  • As Carl got in the habit of taking action, he found the more he did, the more he was rewarded and the more opportunities arose. So he doubled down on that path, which is all about curiosity and less about knowledge and education. “I see those as two polar opposites in a way.”

Synthesising for Strength

  • “I feel like you'll always find ways to try and incorporate all of your curiosities into one bucket.”
  • Carl enjoys how complicated and collaborative it is to make a game. Working as a social media content creator was a constant storm of pressure to make new content every day, whereas working in games is almost the opposite. It takes a lot of time, people and money to make a game and actually finish it. Carl enjoys managing the communication and the tasks, putting out fires and building efficient processes.
  • He went through a life phase of consuming large amounts of motivational content, especially from people like Gary Vaynerchuk. Carl draws on this continually to help overcome his doubts, reflect on how today’s decisions are likely to affect his future and choose where to prioritise his time.
  • Recently he has been down a curiosity rabbit hole of cryptocurrency and blockchain, which he has no doubt will help him in the future somehow.
  • Carl became a board member of the NZ Game Developers Association first, and then learned how to be one afterwards. His prior experience as a social media content creator meant that even though he hadn’t been on an organising committee for a national conference before, he could confidently manage the social media work stream, making sure the event had a strong social media presence on multiple platforms. He also made sure the recorded footage was promptly put on YouTube and communicated.
  • “If you let your thoughts sit, they’ll never stand back up”. Carl now combines everything he’s learned about networking, taking action and being part of a community, to surround himself with friends who are ‘action buddies’ - people you talk to about the projects you want to do and the things you want to achieve, and who hold each other accountable.
  • Carl uses networking as a platform to create opportunities. He builds on this platform in several different directions, including as a games producer, board member and podcaster.

How Carl likes to learn

  • Carl hasn’t found the way that traditional education has provided value to him in his career yet. He thinks of education as being slow, and curiosity and passion as being fast.
  • He learns a lot from video content and listening to podcasts, thinking about how he can apply this to his life and think bigger about what’s possible. He also goes down rabbit holes of reading articles, online conversations, interacting with people and finding experts on Twitter.
  • Hands-on learning like 48-Hour challenges and game jams are the perfect scenario of putting yourself out there and getting something done.
  • Knowledge is something you can acquire, but to turn knowledge into skill, you need to apply those ideas into doing something tangible.
  • When Carl was younger and learning how to edit videos and capture footage from his Xbox, he learned everything through YouTube. It would start with him being inspired by a video where he admired the editing. And then seeing a video in a comment section, discovering a new channel that might focus on certain effects for the videos. And gradually finding a community of people online that were doing similar things so not only was I inspired, but I found a community of other people that were inspired.
  • Carl is energised by the potential of games in education because games can emulate the process of turning knowledge into skill by taking action.
  • Carl notices that games which are primarily intended to be educational are often not that fun, whereas when you focus on building a game that is actually fun and entertaining where fun is first and education second, you can get lost in a flow state which makes you want to continue playing to learn to figure out and overcome challenges.

🧩 Stuff We Mentioned

👥 People

📹 Video


🔊 Audio Highlights

Episode appetiser - if you let your thoughts sit, they'll never stand up again (36 sec)

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Carl explains being a game producer to a 10yo (44 sec)

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How following your curiosity leads to career opportunities (59 sec)

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Why curiosity and the school environment are polar opposites (55 sec)

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Hands-on learning and the difference between knowledge and skill (59 sec)

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👤 About Carl Leducq

Carl Leducq is a production co-ordinator at games studio RocketWerkz in Auckland, New Zealand. Carl is a board member of the New Zealand Game Developers Association and also has his own podcast - Zero to Play - where he interviews various people in the Game Development Industry to deconstruct what a game is, why we play games and what the future of gaming is going to look like.

🤝🏻 Connect with Carl

LinkedIn | Twitter


📝 Interactive Transcript

Note: This is a machine-generated transcript and may contain errors.

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Danu Poyner

Danu is the founder of Grokkist and host of the Still Curious Podcast. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand and has a career that has become more squiggly than a Norwegian fjord.