Fortunate are those who can turn a hobby into a successful profession. Such has been the case for former Esperance student, Theron Miles. As a child Theron loved to play computer and video games and from a young age knew that he wanted to become a computer programmer. Today, through hard work and wise decision- making, he is living his dream, working as a Senior Gameplay Engineer for Ubisoft, a world-wide leading developer and publisher of video games. For those unfamiliar with the profession a Gameplay Engineer is a programmer who works with Game Designers to implement their ideas in video games.
Theron was born in Esperance in May, 1984, the son of Glenda and Frank Miles and older brother to Tanita. The family enjoyed driving along the beach, BBQs and board games and Theron developed a love of the beaches and nature, while enjoying a relaxed, safe and carefree childhood . At Esperance Primary School and Esperance Senior High School Theron recalls teachers who were talented, dedicated and invested in the future of their students. At primary school Mr Edmondson, whom he had as a teacher for two years, was particularly influential while at high school Mr Anderson and Mrs Boyland both nurtured his love of mathematics and were pivotal in his future career choice. Mr Hunt was also important in shaping his personality and viewpoints on life and a supportive group of friends, particularly Caz Nattrass, ensured life was good.
As a teenager, as well as video games, heavy metal music and playing the guitar were Theron’s interests. Following high school he chose a course of study which mirrored his strengths, Computer Science and Games Technology at Murdoch University.
He was in the first cohort to complete the Games Technology course at Murdoch and in 2005 was hired as a Junior Gameplay Engineer at Krome Studios in Brisbane where a year later he was promoted to a Mid Level Gameplay Engineer. He worked there between 2006 and 2010 on such games as “Star Wars – The Force Unleashed” then was hired by THQ Studios Oz in Brisbane to work on the “Avengers” game. When the studio was forced to close in 2011 due to the fallout from the Global Financial Crisis he made the huge move to San Francisco after being hired by Electronic Arts, working on games including “Dead Space 3” and “Battlefield – Hardline.”
Living in the enormous, progressive city of San Francisco was a culture shock for Theron but having moved over the years from country town to larger cities made the transition easier and it was an experience which further opened his eyes to the world.
In 2014 he was hired as a Gameplay Engineer at Ubisoft, still in San Francisco, to work on ”South Park – The Fractured But Whole” where he was in charge of Combat Engineering. In 2017 he was promoted to Senior Gameplay Engineer and transferred to Sydney with girlfriend, Rebecca, where he continues to work on the same game.
With a contract until at least October this year Theron hopes to use his overseas experience to grow the Australian Games Industry. Ideally he would like to stay in Australia and have a family but is open to other opportunities, should they arise.
Away from work, Theron is still very invested in video games and heavy metal. He made the most of his time in the U.S. seeing bands such as Lamb of God, Stone Sour, Slipknot and also non- metal acts such as Lady Gaga and Lily Allen.
After travelling all over the world Esperance still holds a special place in Theron’s heart. He loves returning home and he and Rebecca recently spent several weeks with his family, whom he credits as having been pivotal to his success in life.
He is grateful to have grown up in Esperance and endorses the popular view that our beaches are the best there are to be seen, including those he has visited in Hawaii and Rio de Janeiro. He believes that had there been work opportunities for his career choice he would have likely moved back to Esperance.
This week Theron is making a presentation about his current project at a conference in Montreal, not something he could have envisaged doing as a young boy playing video games.