Work doesn't have to be a chore. For the third in our series on dream children's careers, Lucy Rodgers meets a man who as a teenager fell in love with video games - and now designs them.
Most modern-day youngsters, and many a 21st-Century adult, will have whiled away a good number of hours playing the latest shooter, vehicle simulation or strategy video game.
But for Jez Harris such virtual pastimes are not just an enjoyable hobby, they are his career. The 28-year-old designer, who has yearned to work in the industry since he was a teenager, is paid to create the simulated worlds we enter from our bedrooms or living rooms.
Jez worked on the Harry Potter games
He currently writes scripts, builds levels, cuts scenes and places characters for the Buzz! series for Brighton-based firm Relentless. He has also helped design, among others, the strategy game Gangsters II and the Harry Potter titles.
But although the dream for most children would be getting to play games for a living - which designers are required to do for research - for Jez the real job satisfaction comes from creating enjoyment for others.
"There is still something great about seeing a completed game on the shelf," he says. "To know that a family is going to go into a games shop and spend the weekend playing your game and have fun is great."
To be a good designer imagination is required to "some extent", but "nine times out of 10" designers are not employed to come up with "the next big thing", says Jez. That is usually down to someone higher up in the company.
However, the most important thing is an understanding of how games work and how people play, he says.
"You need to know what makes it fun. I don't think this is something you can teach, experience is the thing," he says. His comes from hours of playing games both for research and his own enjoyment.
Also, contrary to what most outside the industry would think, most designers do not get involved in the programming side of creating a game. In fact, Jez claims he is not "techie" at all.
A finished title can take anything from one to four years to produce and involves dozens of people in many different departments, including programming specialists. Because of this, Jez says a designer's crucial skill is the English language.
"It's about communication," he says. "Most of my day is spent figuring stuff out. For example, there is the game design document, which is a 100-page bible describing what the player does and what can be done. This is what the programmers base their work on. That is my responsibility."
As lead designer Jez also holds meetings with the heads of various sections, including those in arts and production, to ensure everyone is working towards the same goal and to iron out any problems.
Numbers: About 6,300 in the UK
Breaking in: Become a games tester, do a course in English and computer science, make contacts
Source: Jez Harris/Careers Advice/Skillset
"It is very rare that you write it, make it and it works. There is an element of trial and error and you get better at it," he says.
The down side of working in the games industry is that enjoyment "lives and dies by the job". He says being involved in a project that doesn't work can be demoralising.
"Ninety-nine per cent of people in the industry love what they do and love video games. Therefore it is much harder when you are doing something that you know it isn't going to be great."
Despite wanting to become a games designer since he was 14, Jez says it was very difficult to actually do anything to help fulfil his dream while he was young. His careers advisors at that time had little idea about the industry.
Instead, he went on to study design and English at A-level and broke into the industry by first becoming a games tester with Electronic Arts. He then began doing PR for the company and travelled to trade shows which "got the attention of senior staff", he says.
Many people are involved in creating a successful game
After moving to Bristol-based Hothouse Creations to work on Gangsters II as a designer, he returned to Electronic Arts to work on their Harry Potter titles and then joined Relentless to work on the Buzz! series.
Jez believes making good contacts within the industry is crucial to becoming a games designer. He advises against getting "hung up" on a university course about video games.
If he had his time again he would study English and computer science at university. Gaming is quite a "fragile industry" and a good degree gives people a fall-back option, something he wishes he had, he says.
But, despite the educational regrets, Jez still loves what he does for a living.
"We are trying to make fun, so it is an enjoyable job. I wouldn't change it. I couldn't complain."