SAE Industry Insight: Criterion Games Sound Designer, Mariana Botero

03 Jul 2020

Mariana Botero is a Sound Designer at Criterion Games, the studio that was named as one of’s ‘Best Places to Work’ in 2019. The studio is behind games such as Star Wars Battlefront II, Star Wars Battlefront - Rogue One: X-Wing VR, and Burnout Paradise. 

What does Mariana like about her job? 

Mariana enjoys working with people who are incredibly smart and teach her something new every day.

Her biggest achievement is being part of the team that shipped Battlefront II. She said: “Having my name on a Star Wars game means the world to me.” 

What does her average day look like? 

Mariana’s day-to-day responsibilities vary; sometimes she will be doing sound design or implementing assets into the game. Other times she will be recording some foley or some scratch voice over needed for the game. 

How has COVID-19 affected her work? 

She said: “I find it difficult to work from home. The lines between life and work get blurred and being creative in that environment is hard. I draw a lot of creativity and inspiration from my colleagues and even though we can use video chats, it does not have the same impact; I miss collaborating with them and learning from them.: 

How did she acquire her current role - what made her stand out from the crowd? 

Mariana acknowledges that there is no hard rule to get a job, but shares the best piece of advice she ever got: “Always do your best. If your job is to mop a floor, make sure that floor is the cleanest. If your job is to make coffee, make the best coffee ever. Put your best foot forward. That is something that I apply to every job I have and I think, might have been something that made me stand out.” 

What is the biggest challenge that she has faced in her career and how has she handled this? 

Mariana says she always puts extra pressure on herself and thinks less of herself when she doesn’t know something. She said: “I fear that lack of knowledge means I’ve failed. I haven’t fully overcome this, but I am trying to be kinder to myself.” 

Additionally, Mariana says she struggles with creative block. 

How has Mariana worked to overcome creative block? 

Mariana has developed a strategy for dealing with creative block. She said: “This is something that will happen on every project and it took me a while to understand how to deal with it, but now, whenever I start getting block I always follow these steps: a) ask someone for feedback (it's great to have a fresh pair of eyes) b) step away from my computer for 10 minutes and c) look for a different angle, as sometimes we become hyper-focused on a thing and we forget about the bigger picture.” 

What would she tell her younger self? 

Mariana would say: “Relax, it will all work out.” 

What can SAE students do to ensure they are industry-ready by the time they graduate?

It’s advice you’ve heard time and time again, but for Mariana, the importance of a reel or demo can’t be overstated. 

For more advice about what to include in your showreel (depending on the type of role you are applying for), check out the advice article we put together with help from the team at Aardvark Swift, Boss Alien and Splash Damage.

Read the article here. 

Note: SAE Industry Insight is an interview feature where we talk to people working within the creative industries about their roles and how they got there, with the intention of providing SAE students with career advice. The people we interview are not necessarily affiliated with SAE in any way.