Meet the judges for One Special Game – Ron Ashtiani

We’re just a day away from the closing date for our fan art competition ONE SPECIAL GAME . If you don’t already know about it, in collaboration with the developers of STARDEW VALLEY, MASS EFFECT, MONUMENT VALLEY and NEED FOR SPEED we’re inviting artists to submit their take on these iconic games. The entries we’ve had in so far have been amazing. There’s still time to enter but you’re going to have to be quick. The clock is ticking.

Today we talk to the second of our judges, who have the unenviable task of choosing a winner. The incredibly talented Cumron Ashtiani is an award-winning creative business leader, Artist, Author, Director. Entrepreneur and Investor and, best of all, long-time friend of SpecialEffect.

What would be your ‘special’ game (a game that means a lot to you) and why?

That depends on if you mean recently or of all time? For recent games then I have really been enjoying playing GRIS on the Switch as it is such a beautiful game, from the visually delicious art style to the emotionally deep musical score. I found it very therapeutic and enjoyed solving the puzzles with my 7yr son.

Game of all time? Starfox on SNES, When I was a teenager my mates and I played it to death on the hardest mode and it was brutal. When you did complete the game you felt like a true champion.

What is your favourite key art/box art on a game, if you have one?

I was a big fan of what artist Christian Bravery did with Super Massive’s “Until Dawn” marketing art. It had an hour glass with a Skill representing death in the top half and the players in a snow filled landscape in the bottom half. The Snow being the sand slowing draining down.

A great example of narrative in an image. Christian and I are friends but at the time we were both running art studios and so there was a little rivalry. I saw that one and definitely felt a little envy 😉

Could you tell us why you got involved in One Special game (in a couple of sentences!)

I have been involved with SpecialEffect for 7 years now and I am one of the charities ambassadors. I think the work they do is do valuable and also unique. The team there is also still quite small and agile, so the help they provide is very much directly targeted at the people that need it, which is a challenge in larger charities.

The SpecialEffect team have also done a great job over the years of lobbying us in the games development community to make our games for accessible and think about all the different types of players out there.

Do you have any tips for aspiring artists and designers who would like to get into the games industry?

This is a full talk in itself but if I could give just a few pieces of advice then it would be to never stop learning and keep trying. Way back in 1997 when I was graduating, I was top of my class and yet still working in a supermarket for 12 months while I continuously improved my portfolio tried to find a job. It wasn’t until 5 years later that I had a hit game on my CV. It takes time!

Man smiling into the camera

Ron Ashtiani is the second of our three judges for One Special Game

What would be your dream game to have worked on and why?

I’ve been lucky to have worked on most of the projects I really wanted to. I have however always been a RARE fan and before I got into games I would buy EDGE and see their job adverts and dream. Bizarrely a lot of my old colleagues from Midway are now at RARE so I get to live that dream through them 😊 Everwild is looking amazing!