Creating immersive MR games is a dream come true

Written by
Valo Motion
November 29, 2023
# min read
Mizuko, Senior Graphic Designer at Valo Motion, playing Groundfall game inside ValoArena attraction with her kid

In Valo Motion’s world of game development, the role of a Graphic Designer is one that breathes life into virtual worlds and shapes immersive experiences. Meet Mizuko Matsumura, our Senior Graphic Designer, also known as a Game Artist. 

After joining us 2.5 years ago, she has played a pivotal role in crafting the visual landscapes of our mixed-reality attractions like ValoArena, ValoJump, and ValoClimb. Let’s dive deeper into Mizuko's career journey, her daily responsibilities, aspirations, and what makes Valo Motion the perfect place for creative masterminds like her! 

Finding the way to Valo Motion

Originally hailing from Japan, Mizuko Matsumura had a passion for graphic design. She honed her skills by studying graphic design at a university and got a job as a 3D Artist for console games. Yet, she was yearning for a more hands-on, tangible experience, something that would allow her to see and feel the final product of her creative efforts.

“I thought it would be amazing to be able to see the final product of my creative efforts in real life”, she thinks back. 

As Mizuko's dream was to work abroad as a Graphic Designer, her journey led her to Finland. Funnily, Mizuko's initial encounter with Valo Motion resulted from a Facebook message from our Lead Game Developer Lauri Lehtonen – but it had gone to a spam folder and she discovered the message two years after it was sent.

“I took a closer look into Valo Motion and realized it combined multiple professional aspirations that I had: the opportunity to work with mixed-reality technology to develop my skills as a designer.”

The tangible nature of the final product – physical gaming areas – combined with the new challenges and learning opportunities that mixed-reality technology presented, awakened her curiosity.

Long story short, she reconnected with Lauri Lehtonen and got herself an interview with our CEO Raine. A few months later, she joined our team as a trainee. Her skills and abilities were quickly recognized, and today, she works as a Senior Graphic Designer!

What does a Senior Graphic Designer do?

Mizuko's role as a Senior Graphic Designer at Valo Motion contains a wide range of responsibilities that are essential to game development. 

“My work primarily revolves around creating, developing, and refreshing the graphics for Valo Motion's games. Some of our games were initially developed nearly eight years ago, and my job is to breathe fresh life into them by giving them a contemporary, updated look”, she says. 

How does an idea of a graphic turn into life in Mizuko’s hands? 

It all starts with her creative skills in Photoshop or Illustrator, where she designs the graphics. These graphics are then exported into the required format for the game and handed over to the developers. The developers then integrate Mizuko's graphics into the game, ensuring that everything aligns perfectly. 

Then the fun part: Mizuko and the developers walk into ValoHalli which has all the gaming areas ready to be tested. And yes, ValoHalli is attached to the office in Helsinki. 

Mizuko, Valo Motion's senior graphic designer with her ValoArena cover design
Mizuko checking her ValoArena cover design at ValoHalli

“Then we run the game, to see how the graphics work, feel, and look like. Sometimes we play and test them just like our customers would do”, Mizuko explains. 

The ability to feel the final product is what makes the work motivating and inspiring to Mizuko. 

“I believe that as a Game Artist, I need to experience the game with pleasure and gain the right impression. What does it feel like to the players? Is it fun?”

“I believe that as a Game Artist, I need to experience the game with pleasure and gain the right impression. What does it feel like to the players? Is it fun?”, she says. Testing games is an iterative process, involving multiple rounds of play, tweaks, and retesting, all with the goal of ensuring that both the developers and our customers are happy with the final product. 

In addition to her work on game graphics, Mizuko works cross-functionally on creating various assets for marketing. A prime example of her creativity is the logos for Valo Motion games; she has crafted them for over half of our games in the last two years. Also, the logo animation that appears in the advertisements, is Mizuko’s work. In addition, she helps marketing by creating physical prints, posters, and assets used at expos and events, which play a crucial role in promoting Valo Motion's mixed-reality games to a broader audience. 

“Basically I make sure that the game graphics are aligned from the games to the materials that are used to market them”, she says. 

Mizuko with the team at IAAPA Expo Europe in Vienna in September 2023
Mizuko with the team at the 2023 IAAPA Expo Europe in Vienna, Austria

Working with people who are serious about fun and freedom to explore creative ideas

When asked what has kept Mizuko inspired and motivated at Valo Motion for 2.5 years, the answer is simple: the people she works with. 

“Our team is full of friendly, curious, and fun-loving individuals who share my passion for creativity and innovation”, she smiles. Mizuko also emphasizes the flat hierarchy which makes it easy and safe to communicate within the team. “My voice and opinions are heard and valued here”, she says. 

Valo Motion team on Summer Day at Vierumäki
Mizuko and the team, capturing moments during Valo Motion Summer Day in Vierumäki!

Another thing that keeps Mizuko inspired is the freedom to explore creative ideas through trial and error. It is a rare privilege in the industry often constrained by time and budget. 

“I can develop and hone my designs until I am satisfied with the final product. It surprised me in the beginning but now I feel that it is a sign of trust toward my professional skills. Our approach fosters creativity, which allows me to have a sense of ownership over my work and the ability to test and refine my ideas”, she says. 

3 reasons why Valo Motion is a great place for a Graphic Designer:

#1 Tangible final product: Working with mixed-reality technology is a unique opportunity for a Graphic Designer to actually see, feel, and experience your work in real life. 

#2 Creative freedom: You are empowered to refine your skills and explore crazy ideas. The open work culture encourages trial and error, making it the ideal place for designers to thrive. Just like Mizuko enjoys the freedom to take ownership and develop her work until she thinks that it is ready. 

#3 Growing with the company: As we are growing and constantly developing new ideas to bring to the market, this is a place for a person like Mizuko who is attracted to growth and learning new things. And all the work is done for a meaningful mission: to get people excited about exercising and movement with the help of technology!

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