Growing up in Mexico City, Fernando Reyes Medina’s love for video games and desire to be a game designer was fueled in part by the “Halo” franchise. As a teen he would play with friends, and he credits the game with driving him to study computer science in college.
Today, Medina is designing and creating new multiplayer experiences for the upcoming “Halo: Infinite” as a game designer at Microsoft’s 343 Industries studio. And he’s GeekWire’s latest Geek of the Week.
After graduating from Tecnológico de Monterrey, Medina was recruited by Microsoft to work as a an engineer on different facets of Xbox. He transitioned to his dream job at 343 in 2017.
“Games are my life,” Medina said. “Playing games with people from all over the world was really inspiring for me.”
Medina is also looking to inspire others to take up his passion, especially members of the Latinx community. He is the current Latin American Director for Latinx in Gaming, a non-profit organization focused on helping members the community succeed in the industry.
“The Latinx community is currently severely underrepresented in the gaming industry, in all the areas from game development and content creators to actual games that exist in the current landscape,” Medina said, calling it a missed opportunity for a market where 69 percent of teens identify as gamers.
The silver lining is that through the efforts of organizations like his, people are more united than ever to elevate voices and improve the situation for new generations.
“Latinx culture is so rich and vast and there are so many untapped experiences and stories out there that people want to show with the rest of the world,” he said.
Medina’s love for the reach of gaming extends to accessibility as well. As much as he loves to play a game in 4k 60FPS in HDR with a Dolby Atmos sound system, the most exciting piece of technology he’s seen released is the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
“I am very passionate about democratizing access to gaming to anyone who is interested in playing and making games,” Medina said. “The fact that this controller opens the door to thousands of people to join in the fun is very inspiring and exciting.”
As the father of a 13-year-old who is currently obsessed with video games in a quarantined world, I couldn’t help but ask a gaming professional for his perspective on how I should address the way my son spends his time. Medina credits video games with teaching him skills such as critical thinking, resilience, and even speaking English.
His advice on being a creator and not just a consumer of what other people make is worth listening to.
“Make a short film with your phone, do a painting, try to write a song,” Medina said. “It doesn’t matter if it is good or not, there is an intrinsic value in creating something out of nothing that makes you see the world and people with a different lens.”
Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, Fernando Reyes Medina:
What do you do, and why do you do it? Multiplayer game designer for 343 Industries. Games are my life. I love gaming because it is the perfect tool to unite people from different backgrounds, since it doesn’t matter who we are behind the screen, or where we are located in the world, when we are playing video games together, we are all the same and nothing else matters. I also see it as the superior form of art, combining everything (music, film, architecture, etc.) in a single piece of art, with the additional aspect of empowering the audience into having a direct impact in how the piece of art is perceived.
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? Way more people play games than what people usually think. The industry has a revenue higher than the music and movie industry combined. And the truth is that we are all gamers, in one way or the other, we all have played games at least once in our lifetimes. If someone doesn’t like video games, it’s only because they haven’t found their type of game that they like. Games help us think in different ways, teach us about patience and make us more resilient to failure.
Where do you find your inspiration? I love modern Japanese culture. I love how they understand so well their own culture that they can create new pieces of art or media that fit within their own vision of the world, but it’s completely new. You can instantly identify a Japanese game by just looking at a screen shot, even if it doesn’t contain traditional Japanese culture, you see the influence of it. I want to do the same thing with my own culture, use it as input and create a completely new thing that the world hasn’t seen before but it could only be created through a Mexican lens.
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? My laptop, because it is the perfect tool for media consumption and creation at the same time. If you have a computer and internet you can probably learn and create anything that you want if you put enough time.
What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? Working from home has changed my workspace, but I am happy to have all my games next to me because I can look at them while creating new games and aspire to put something as good as the ones I have in my shelf next to them.
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) I love lo-fi hip-hop, it keeps me engaged when working, and it adds ambiance when I am cooking, playing or socializing so it is the perfect tool for any occasion.
Mac, Windows or Linux? Windows (company man).
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? Jason Nesmith?
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Time machine.
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … start my own remote game studio, where people are free to live wherever they want in the world and still have their dream job.
I once waited in line for … meeting Hideo Kojima in Mexico City … four hours : (
Your role models: Guillermo del Toro (he is an amazing Mexican director who creates wonderful worlds, which I’m doing on my own domain). Rodney Mullen (I love how he is the GOAT of skateboarding and still is a humble and caring person who enjoys what he does just for the sake of it). My mom (the most fearless person I know, no matter how tough things were for us at times, she never gave up).
Greatest game in history: “Chrono Trigger.”
Best gadget ever: Game Boy Micro.
First Computer: Probably not the first one but the one I remember COMPAQ PRESARIO 5000.
Current phone: Galaxy Note 10.
Favorite app: Reddit.
Favorite cause: Big cat conservation.
Most important technology of 2020: Video conference.
Most important technology of 2022: Sleeveless vests.
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: Technology has always been seen as something that is isolating us and keeping us from having real interactions with each other. I hope if we learned anything from this is that this is quite the opposite, use technology (and GAMES!) to unite, not to divide.
LinkedIn: Fernando Reyes Medina