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Employee Spotlight: Alyssa McCallion

Hey buds, I’m Alyssa!

AKA Aly Mac.

I’m a Media Artist at Harmonix. I design marketing material for our games that informs and engages our audiences on social media, at press events and conventions, and on and off screen. What I love most about my job is that every day looks different. For a few hours I can be doing a photo or video shoot for a social asset. Then, I could move onto illustrating or designing our next DLC reveal for Rock Band. And to wrap up the day, I might make a motion graphic for a slate that’s going to appear on a FUSER stream. Time feels like such a void these days, but I’ve been at Harmonix for 5 years…woah. 

At the moment, my time is pretty evenly split between Rock Band and FUSER. On these projects, I design many of the images you see on their social channels. If you hop into the games and check out the activity feeds and promo art in the in-game store, you’ll see my work there too. If you have checked out any of our awesome FUSER Sessions streams with DJ Z.O.E., you probably have seen some of my title slates and animations. 

Outside of Harmonix, I am on the board for a Boston Game Dev meet-up group called Boston Post Mortem. We host a monthly lecture series as well as “Show And Tells”, as a way for local indie devs to share progress and get feedback on their games. Pre-Pandemic I was also doing freelance design work for local dance companies and solo artists. Currently, I am looking for opportunities to collaborate with artists and activists throughout the city in safe and remote ways. 

What were you doing before Harmonix, and how did you find your way here? 

How I got to Harmonix was by way of luck — I took on an opportunity at just the right time. After I graduated from Boston University in 2015, I reached out to a local graphic designer who I admired, Jennifer Hill. She was also a small business and studio owner, so I felt like I could learn a lot from her. She took me on as an intern for the summer. While I was working alongside her, I took on 3 other part time jobs to save enough money to move back to Boston in the fall.

As I was wrapping up the summer with Jen, she encouraged me to reach out to Harmonix to see if they had any openings. At the time, I had NO IDEA that Harmonix developed Rock Band, a game that I played frequently with friends at parties growing up. Even though I had no experience in game development, I loved video games and the art of storytelling. So, if Harmonix had a position that I was suited for, I would surely take the chance to apply. Sure enough, they were looking for a media artist on their marketing team. I went to the studio for an informational interview and portfolio review, and just like that, Harmonix took a chance on me. 

What has been your proudest accomplishment or favorite Harmonix moment? 

I have countless fond memories at Harmonix, but some of my favorites include:

All the fun photoshoots for DLC and other promo material for Rock Band. I have a lot of  freedom in terms of what I make and how I go about making it. After some research and brainstorming for the vibe I’m trying to go for — which is usually inspired by the featured artists or musical genre — I execute the design using a variety of mediums. These are great opportunities to embrace the kinds of mixed media work I enjoy doing, while also experimenting with new creative directions and techniques. It’s always awesome when someone from the community acknowledges something they liked about the design in the comments <3. 

Every time I get to design a booth for PAX, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Being able to help create something tangible with a physical presence that fans can interact with is such a joy. One of my favorite booth designs was at PAX West. I got to design 2 dueling stages with connected green rooms that were used to promote the launch of Rock Band Rivals. It was such a great feeling to see those designs come to life in such a big way.

I also have had the opportunity to contribute to the motion capture for some of our characters in our games. I was able to do this for Dance Central and FUSER. If you have played through the FUSER campaign, I acted out the character animations for Faint Shadow, one of the promoters that you meet and seek mentorship from. You can also see some of my movements as animations for personality types in the character creator. 

What is your favorite Harmonix game and why? 

My favorite Harmonix Game is Dance Central for VR. Dance is such a huge part of my life, and the game was such a great creative release for me during its development. Tearing up the dance floor in a “physical” space with the characters is a blast. I was also given the opportunity to act out Emilia’s motion capture during her cut scenes, which was such an awesome and memorable experience. 

What Rock Band instrument do you play?

My favorite Rock Band instrument to play is definitely bass. I enjoy sitting back and just grooving. 

What's your favorite Rock Band song of all time?

My favorite song to play is Everlong by the Foo Fighters.

Tell us about your outside-of-work music/artistic experience

Playing bass in Rock Band has fueled my ambition to learn bass IRL. I am now taking virtual lessons and focusing on learning a new skill for the first time in a while. No deadlines, no pressure, and it's just for me. It feels really refreshing. Prior to 2020 I was also participating in local markets selling pins, prints, and stickers. I’m not actively selling at the moment, but I look forward to getting back in the local market scene (hopefully) soon. 

If you could trade places with anyone else at Harmonix for a week, who would it be?

It would probably be Helen McWilliams or Matt Derby. Being able to take part in the creative direction of our games (like writing scripts and building out the narrative / player experience) seems like such a fun role to have.

Do you have any secret talents?

Maybe not the most exciting talent, but I can make conversation for days and have little trouble verbally connecting with different people. I have my retail experience to thank for that. It’s been a very useful soft skill that I intend to keep developing throughout my life. 

Include any social media handles you'd like to share w/ the Harmonix community!

You can follow my art goings on at @alymacmade on insta, or have absurd chats with me on Twitter @aly_smacks.