Mohammed Ikram reflects…

Mohammed Ikram

My full name is Mohammed Ikram but I’m known in the industry as Iki Ikram. When I was 10 years old I vividly remember sitting in the middle of the front row in the Odeon 2 cinema in Bradford. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the cinema let alone the movie I was about to see. This was my first ever visit alone and it would make me fall in love with the magic of cinema forever and shape my future career. It was 1977and the film I was there to see was Star Wars.

After seeing the movie, I went home with a very clear idea of what my goal would be. I wanted to recreate those images and emotions. So here I am sitting at my PC in 2016 in Santa Monica, California writing this autobiography. My career as a Visual Effects Artist spans as far back as when I was 14. This was the year that I bought my first basic home computer, the Dragon 32k. It was acquired through the help of my eldest brother and through working two newspaper rounds a day, the early 5am round and the after school round at 4:30pm. As soon as I got the computer, I started to play and make games.

When I turned 18, I went to Bradford & Ilkley Community College (now Bradford College) where I studied BTEC Graphic Design. This course would eventually provide all the knowledge and skills I needed to further my goal. It was also my first introduction to an Apple computer and Photoshop v1.0. After a further stretch of higher education at Southampton Institute of Higher Education, I landed my first job in the games industry. It was only at a small company in an out of town place but it was the perfect springboard to launch me into Pysgnosis which, at the time, was one of the most recognised and respected games companies in the world. Psygnosis was bought by Sony Computer Entertainment and I remained an artist there for over 13 years. In the time I was there I worked on a handful of games, some never saw the light of day, others were released to some success, but one or two met huge critical and financial success.

One of these success stories was when I was loaned out to Guerrilla Games in Amsterdam to work on a game called Killzone 2. The game drew a lot of attention and I started to get calls. I was approached by many companies but two of them really stood out. LucasArts and Naughty Dog. I flew into San Francisco to the Lucas Film campus. I was given a grand tour of all things Star Wars and all I could do was smile. Three months went by and I heard nothing back from LucasArts and I was already on a plane to meet the people at Naughty Dog in Santa Monica. My interview at Naughty Dog was pretty gruelling. I had to do a test before I was invited over and when I got there they tested me more. I really loved what they were doing and I was very excited about their approach to developing games. They offered me the job at the end of the day and I accepted it on the spot.

The Monday I returned from Santa Monica to London, I received an email from LucasArts to say that they would like to make me an offer. The opportunity to work in the place I had dreamt of since I was 10 was right at my fingertips. However, I turned the offer down. I just wanted to work for Naughty Dog. This was the best decision I made in my life.

I have now been working at Naughty Dog for seven years. In that time I have worked on two critically acclaimed games. These games are regarded as the best games of all time in hundreds of publications and awards ceremonies. So the boy from Manningham who dreamt big finally made it happen. The people I have to thank are my family but the foundations of my education came from my home town in Bradford.

Iki visited the college to share his experience of studying here and how it influenced his career path, he discusses this in the video below.