Meet the Sprites: Chris McCann

Category: careers

August 8, 2023
Meet the Sprites: Chris McCann

We talk to Chris about life at Firesprite as Infrastructure Manager

Person smiling at camera for portrait photo to discuss games industry topics, their game development career and their role in video games at Firesprite.

How does your work as Infrastructure Manager help bring Firesprite’s games to life?
IT’s job is to be able to provide the amazing Coders, Artists, Designers, QA Staff and Audio Teams with hardware and software. Be it at their desk, at home, in the Server Room or even Cloud to bring the games to life.

When did you know you wanted to work in games?
To be honest, I never really thought about how IT had such an impact on game development. It was only when I started working in the industry that I realized how embedded we are within the teams. I think the first time that I realized that working in games was special was when I understood the whole process of making a game and how long it took. The fact that I would see concept art for a game that might not be announced for 2-3 years was something special.

How did you get your job in games?
I started 15 years ago as an apprentice at Evolution Studios. I was given the opportunity to come in and help with building and setting up PC’s. Doing desk moves and helping out with basic issues. From there, I just carried on learning and developing more skills.

What game are you most proud to have worked on so far in your career?
Driveclub, for me is the game that I am most proud of working on. I was able to travel around the word to help do tech setups for the demos for some big shows like E3, EGX and The International Games Festival in Cannes.

What advice would you give to your younger self on your first day in the industry?
I think the best advice that I could give to myself on my first day is that it’s OK to not know everything. For years I would worry about not knowing as much as other people in IT. I never really factored in that these people had 10-15 years of experience. Still to this day, after 15 years working in IT, I don’t know everything. Every day is still a school day, keep learning.

What most excites you most about coming to work every day?
There are so many things that I look forward to, but, after so much planning, at the moment I’d say finally being able to be in and around the new studio.

What’s your ideal Infrastructure Manager superpower?
I would love to be like Micah Sanders from Heroes, he had the ability to talk to computers and get them to do what he wants… That would be AWESOME.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given since starting your career in gaming?
Always have a rollback plan when making changes.

How did you develop and refine your skills as Infrastructure Manager and what lessons have shaped the work you do today in your role?
I think this needs to be be broken down in two parts, the people management and the technical aspect.

Over the years I have worked with some amazing people, some have been colleagues, and some have been managers. I’ve always tried to look for examples of how they have led and guided me in the past and tried to apply my own management style to my team. Developing a good relationship with them and knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are is key to getting the best out of them I think. This just comes with time and always being open and honest with them.

For the technical side; never stop learning, never stop trying to look for better ways to do things. This is key to refining any role.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a team leader?
Don’t feel worried and upset about passing on responsibilities. You’ll get more satisfaction in seeing your team succeed in tasks and projects than you realize.

What most excites you about your role?
Getting my hands on new software / tech always excites me. We have a lot of clever people in the development teams and they are always looking to push the envelope on what can be done. To do this, we need to make sure that we are always looking to match or better their expectations, allowing them to make the best games possible.

What is your favourite thing about working at Firesprite?

Two things:

  1. The people: One of my favourite things to do is to walk around the studio and speak to lots of amazing people. I didn’t realize how much I missed that face-to-face interaction when working from home during lockdown.
  2. How the studio treats and looks after us. Be it amazing festive or launch parties, or the little surprise parcels that we get in the mail. It’s just a simple way to know that we’re thought of and appreciated.

What’s been the best day of your Firesprite career to date?
I think the day that I got offered the job. When I took the role, I was the only full-time IT staff here. There was a huge sense of pride in being asked to be responsible for the development of the IT department from that day.

What’s been your most rewarding work challenge so far and why?
I think helping design the new studio. Trying to build the back-end infrastructure for a new office that’s going to be in place for 10+ years is something that kept my mind busy, as did planning for more meeting rooms and more social spaces! But working on a project of that scale is always going to be rewarding and it feels fantastic to see the reception the space has had from sprites and online.

What makes you proud to be a sprite?
I’m incredibly proud that the studio has taken such an active approach for Diversity and Inclusion. From organizing talks with Global Butterflies to allocating space for a prayer room in the new building. It’s fantastic to see the team really lead the way with this.