The games industry plays host to a colourful cast of diverse individuals, from artists and coders to narrative designers and studio heads.
The skills to pull off these roles, however, are complex and differing, with each position requiring mastery in its field.
To highlight some of the brilliant work that goes on behind the screen, and help others who may be keen to dive in, PocketGamer.biz is reaching out to the individuals who make up the games industry with our Jobs in Games series.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?
Marina Espin: I’m currently working as head of business development, managing a team of business development managers responsible for establishing partnerships with mobile game developers from all over the world. Our goal is to make their games more successful and help them make more money with them. And let’s not forget that we play a lot of games too!
Besides that, I go to gaming events (*wink* *wink* PCG London) to meet amazing people in the industry, catch up with friends and learn about new trends in gaming.
“Once I started talking with people in the games industry, I got seduced by it so I decided to try my luck and apply for a job at Yodo1.”
How did you first get into games and how did you progress into the role?
I moved to China three years ago to study Mandarin. I used to work at TED Beijing where I had the chance to get in touch with key players in leading tech industries in the country. Once I started talking with people in the games industry, I got seduced by it so I decided to try my luck and apply for a job at Yodo1.
I first started as a business development manager in the company and felt very motivated since the beginning. In my second week, I got the approval from my manager to go to my hometown of Barcelona to attend GameLab, the main gaming event in Spain. I made a lot of connections there and learned a lot, pushing myself out of my comfort zone all the time.
One of the most successful partnerships from there is Keplerians, as we started working with them on ad monetization and have been growing together since then. The company rewards and promotes young talent, people who are motivated and looking for new challenges. I believe my attitude has been one of the key ingredients that helped me succeed here.
Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?
I’ve always thought of videogames as something to do in my spare time or together with friends. When I was little, I never even thought about the existence of a whole industry, not to mention actual jobs there.
What did you study (if anything) to get your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?
My bachelor’s degree has been economics-focused, while I attended my master’s degree in China with the goal of better understanding how business, economics, and politics work in the country.
My personal experience in games practically all comes from my working experience. I have not studied anything specific which, to be honest, I would love to do someday. One of my goals is to be able to create my own game in the mid-run.
For people with the desire to enter the industry, I think that having knowledge about programming or hands-on experience in business would facilitate the transition.
However, at least regarding my position, the most important traits are definitely adaptability and problem-solving more than any specific course attended. When interviewing a candidate, we always look for someone who’s open and easy to work with, who’s able to change fast in tune with a fast-changing industry. And who’s comfortable getting out of the comfort zone.
What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?
Partnering with others and building meaningful connections always represents a huge learning opportunity, and I personally love meeting new people and chatting with them, so sometimes our partnerships look more like friendships than anything else, making the job even more exciting.
At the same time, seeing how our partners grow, how they work on new games and how they overcome bigger challenges is extremely fulfilling and makes all the effort worth it. Growing together is our ultimate goal.
Plus, running a team and seeing how the team members learn, grow and improve, both personally and professionally is the most satisfying part of my day to day job. All my efforts are towards helping them become better every day, by sharing with them everything I’ve learned before.
“Overall, the fact that the games industry is so dynamic and innovating makes it exciting and at the same time demanding”
What are the biggest difficulties you have encountered since joining the industry?
The industry is definitely very high-pace, especially in China. For example, with the recent regulation limiting playtime for minors coupled with the announcement from Apple regarding the necessity of an ISBN license, the landscape keeps changing and the challenges keep coming.
Overall, the fact that the games industry is so dynamic and innovating makes it exciting and at the same time demanding: if you don’t know how to quickly adapt, you’re done for!
Also, being only 25 years old I realised how difficult and complicated really is managing and motivating a team of people, coordinating with multiple departments to reach our common goals.
Do you think there are any misconceptions, public or professional, surrounding your area of expertise?
What I noticed, especially when attending gaming events, is how most of the attendants are men, which definitely makes it more challenging for women to find their spot.
Moreover, the fact that I’m so young requires me to be more mature and always ready to step up my game to earn everyone’s trust and respect.
Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?
I keep learning new things every day, but I would have certainly loved to understand or know more about it since the beginning. However, I truly think that it’s all been part of the adventure and learning experience so, ultimately, I wouldn’t change anything.
One of the things I should have picked up earlier was to constantly keep myself informed on the latest news in the industry. By reading the different media outlets, one of which is yours truly, you can always be aware of what is going on around you.
What other advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?
Jump into it and dive! Talk to a lot of people, knock on different doors and make connections so you can get your dream job. Don’t be afraid of being bothersome: people in the games industry are willing to help each other, share learnings, and give a hand to newcomers.
Think about what’s your ‘special sauce’ and what is unique about you. If you want to be a rockstar, you should work in something you really like and something you’re good at. Remember that gaming will give you a lot of fun, and can also give you a great job!!