Living the dream: CSR2 fan lands job designing cars for Zynga

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Chances are that if you’re reading this then you’re already lucky enough to be working in the games industry. For many gamers and fans however, working with the thing they love remains a distant dream. However, for one skilled and passionate fan of CSR2 – the racing game produced in the UK by NaturalMotion and published worldwide by Zynga – that dream came true as his talents landed him a job at the studio fine-tuning the game he loves.

Guillaume Mille – who graduated university in Belgium with an electromechanical engineering degree – was a longtime fan of CSR2 and his passion and active role in the player-community caught the eye of the game’s developers. Before too long they got in touch…

We got the chance to chat with Mille about his journey from virtual car buff to real-life designer at the studio.

PocketGamer.biz: Have you always been a fan of cars and car design?

Guillaume Mille: Growing up I was constantly surrounded by cars, from my dad bringing me to old-timer meets on weekends to bringing my Hot Wheels with me everywhere I went. As I got older I became more interested in video games, primarily racing games, with my first game being Need for Speed Porsche Unleashed 2000. That really developed my interest in cars, to the point where I chose my studies to pursue this passion.

What had previously been your ambitions for a career?

I studied at the University of Ghent in Belgium and graduated as an Electromechanical Engineer in 2019. I always wanted to become an engineer with the goal of having a career in the automotive industry.

What was it about CSR that got you hooked?

I remember playing the original CSR Racing on an old tablet and loved the simplicity of a 10-15 second drag race. A few years later, a friend recommended CSR2 to me, showing me how great the cars looked, the interaction with them, and showing me his collection of supercars. I’ve been hooked on the game ever since. I love the crew aspect of CSR, where players from across the world come together as a team. It’s also great that anyone can add their dream car to their personal collection.

At first, I didn’t believe it was really him! But eventually, he convinced me that he was for real, and we started talking.

Guillaume Mille

And you began to make YouTube videos?

I struggled to find information about the game so I decided to create my own source of information for new players who were getting up to speed. The YouTube channel was dedicated specifically to informative videos about CSR2. I started putting them out while at university. It consisted of tips and tricks, as well as updates about the latest news and live streams of events.

And the CSR team were watching?

Turns out that the vehicle art director regularly watched my videos and live streams. One day, I was saying that I doubted CSR would add more classic cars to the game, and he reached out to me on the stream. At first, I didn’t believe it was really him! But eventually, he convinced me that he was for real, and we started talking. I agreed to sign an NDA so he could provide me with advance information on the game so that I could incorporate it into my videos to make sure the right information was shared with players. I was also providing direct feedback on the game.

And they decided to make you part of the team?

At first, it was very unexpected. To work in the gaming industry is not something I had ever even thought about or considered, so it was rather a surprise. After taking time to contemplate, I decided to take their offer and move from Belgium to the UK to start a new journey.

What’s your day-to-day job at NaturalMotion?

I work mostly on the car visuals, working closely with the artists. I pass on instructions about the cars, review the work and provide data where necessary. My manager and I also audition new cars and discuss what they will add to the game and how they would fit best. I get to work and talk about cars day in and day out, which is something I enjoy since it’s so close to my passion.

When it’s time to capture images of a new car, I travel on site and get to see a lot of interesting stuff. For example, during my trip to Dubai for a photo shoot of the Devel Sixteen, the car owners showed me their car collection. They even had a Batmobile replica from the films. It was so cool to see something so unique. They also showed me some of the best parts of Dubai.

Sounds like a dream come true

I am absolutely loving it as I get to live my passion and work on something that’s close to my heart every day. It allows me to use my knowledge of the game and cars, with the goal of entertaining people. It’s really an amazing job to have and I am very happy to be here with my team.

What’s next for you?

The world has opened up again, and I can finally manage to travel the world to see and capture cars for inclusion in the game. I go to auto shows, visit manufacturers, and travel to unique locations around the world for a first look at new car models – it’s a great job to have!

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