Recruitment Spotlight - March 2012

Recruitment Spotlight - March 2012
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

April 4th 2012 at 10:00AM

Our monthly studio recruitment update looks at Jagex, Bossa Studios and Tequila Works

[To read out other recruitment spotlight's for more juicy tips on breaking into the industry, you can find them here]

Recruiter Hot Seat

We speak to Jagex’s Francesco Genovese about why the studio is hiring in droves, and how to successfully land a job.

Name: Francesco Genovese

Title: Recruitment Manager

www.jagex.com


How many staff are you looking to take on?
We have quite a lot going on at the moment, with Transformers Universe in full production, 8Realms recently launching, RuneScape, War of Legends, and so on.

Let’s just say we like to keep ourselves busy. In order to support these products in the best possible way, we are always on the lookout for fresh talent. At the moment, we have about 45 vacancies live, so if you’re looking for your next role, get in touch with us.

From what fields are you recruiting?
It would be easier to tell you from what field we aren’t trying to recruit. We’re hiring in practically every discipline; we need game engine programmers, product analysts, UI artists, testers, designers and more. We’re even recruiting for a receptionist for our new Cambridge headquarters.

What does your company offer that other studios don’t?
Great culture. We’re truly a unique company to work for. We pride ourselves on our culture and show respect for our staff. We want people to thrive and innovate, and we do all we can to ensure each day fills employees with that ‘buzz’.

As well as that we have amazing people working here. The Jagex ranks are packed full of the most gifted and talented individuals within the games industry. People can flourish here. Working alongside the industry’s best is a gift in itself.

We also offer stability. We are a truly blessed company, having grown into the UK’s largest independent studio and achieved considerable success and stability. We’re proud of who we are and what we’ve achieved, and we’re excited about our future.

What are the perks of working at your company?
First of all, working with some fantastic IPs – such as Transformers Universe – and a lot of very talented, passionate and experienced professionals.

We also offer an extremely competitive benefits package including private healthcare, gym membership, an annual performance bonus, fresh fruit, bicycle repair, five and 11-a-side football teams, a cricket team, quarterly team-building events, epic company parties, training workshops, an on-site canteen, as well as many other perks.

Who is the best interviewee you’ve ever had and what did they do?
Quite a few years ago we were recruiting for a CTO. Being a tough role to recruit for, we expected it to take a few months to find the right person. We were wrong.

We had just started the first round of interviews when we received the CV of an interesting applicant who, on paper, seemed really strong.

When we invited him for the face-to-face interview, he blew us away; not only did he have a very strong technical background, but his commercial acumen was also impressive.

He’d done his homework and knew pretty much everything about us, our games and our tech.

He was incredibly passionate and a great communicator, and our CEO at that time was so impressed that he almost offered him the position on the spot at the end of that interview.

Well, not only did we offer him the CTO position, but after a few years, he ended up as our CEO. And that’s how Mark Gerhard joined us.

And the worst?
The worst applicants are the ones who haven’t spent any time at all researching us before their interview.

What are your tips for succeeding in an interview?
Do your homework before each interview. Normally your interviewer will spend about 30 minutes going through your CV, your portfolio and your websites before the interview to make the best use of your time.

The minimum you can do is to spend as much time as possible researching the company, what games they make – try them, what tech they use, and so on. This will help you massively during the actual interview.

Also, try to control your stress. There are a few things you can do before the actual interview to put yourself at ease: do your homework, rehearse with a friend, prepare a list of questions to ask at the end, and try to find some information about your interviewers. Check their LinkedIn profiles, Google their names and so on.

Don’t be afraid to show your passion. Be yourself, honest and concise.

The UK ‘Brain Drain’; is it a serious issue, or over-exaggerated?
In the last 18 months, I’ve travelled across the UK to visit several less fortunate studios that, for one reason or another, had to let staff go.

I’ve met so many passionate, experienced and inspiring professionals that I simply cannot agree with the idea of a UK brain drain.

The UK still produces a large number of the most talented professionals and graduates for the games industry.

Having said that, there are still a few disciplines suffering a shortage of experienced professionals in the UK, forcing gaming companies to look abroad. These are roles like UI experts, product analysts and social games designers.

Why should devs still be interested in working for a big studio when going indie is a popuar option?
I’m a fan of indie development; I think it brings a breath of fresh air to our industry. But working for a big studio gives you the chance to grow, to confront yourself, and to share your knowledge and experience with a large number of industry professionals who are as passionate as you.


GET THAT JOB

This month: Finishing your first games project

Bossa Studios game developer Leo Brennan offers his advice on creating your own game

“Finishing a game and releasing it really is a big deal and it will immediately set you apart from the rest and. The more polish ithas the bigger chance you have of employers asking you to interview.

“If it is your first game start out with a simple project that you can make in three or four weekends and then spend another two weekends polishing it.

“It doesn’t matter if the game is a simple clone of doodle jump; just make sure it’s polished and bug free.

“The goal is to make a simple game that shows you can get from the start of a project to the end and release it.

“Trying to make your own game engine won’t get you anywhere. You are much better off using an existing engine and improving the graphics for it if  you want to show off your OpenGL/Direct X skills.”

New Studio Spotlight

A new DIGITAL studio based in London called Hutch Games has been founded by five former
console developers.

Formed in June 2011, the outfit has just released its first game on iOS, Smash Cops, which has gone on to top the charts in the US, Canada and Australia, while thriving in Europe.

“Our goal is to challenge the status quo, whether that be in player controls like Smash Cops or in areas with accepted annoyances in social, freemium, mobile, location, storytelling, business models, or even changing the way we work,” says Technical Director Sean Turner.

www.hutchgames.com

SIX-SECOND STUDIO SPOTLIGHT

Tequilla Works was launched in Madrid back in 2009 by Raul Rubio and Luz Sancho

The studio specialises in creating digitally distributed and ‘experimental’ games

Rubio says the studio aims to create “small and tasteful” games, mixing tradition and innovation

It is currently working on its debut title for XBLA, puzzle platformer Deadlight, currently slated for a Summer 2012 release

Tequilla has a core team of 18, with backgrounds at companies such as Blizzard and SCEE

It is currently modeling itself as a ‘boutique’ studio

MOVERS AND SHAKERS

This month: Jagex, Splash Damage and Big Fish Games add experienced professionals to their teams

Jagex

Runescape developer Jagex has appointed former Rockstar art and animation director Alexander Horton as chief creative officer as part of the studio’s preparation to enter the “mass market online gaming” sector with titles such as Transformers Universe.

“Jagex has been around ever since I’ve been in the industry and it’s been amazing to witness their development and creativity in the online gaming space over the last decade,” said Horton.

“Multiplayer browser-based online gaming is the future and I am hugely excited and honoured to be a part of the UK’s largest independent development space in this environment. Jagex is certainly the place to be.”

Whilst at Rockstar, Horton worked as leader animator on Grand Theft Auto 3, as well as working on titles including Manhunt and western Red Dead Revolver.

Most recently he has been freelancing for almost three years as a consultant and designer for clients such as EA and DefJam Entertainment, specialising in disciplines including art direction and virtual cinematography.

Splash Damage

London-based studio Splash Damage has snapped up former EA executive Griff Jenkins as its new director of production.

Jenkins oversaw promotion and building up of the publisher’s major franchises from FIFA to Need for Speed whilst working as senior development director at the company for seven years.

“Following FIFA’s incredible success, Jenkins’s new role at Splash Damage will improve our games by improving the way we make them,” stated the Brink developer’s CEO
Paul Wedgwood.

“Under his leadership we’ll elevate production to a discipline on par with art, design, and programming. These are areas that we’ve always constantly strived to improve, and production should be no different.”

In a busy month for the studio, it has also appointed former Ninja Theory lead gameplay programmer Marc Fascia as technical director. He will oversee all engineering teams at the company.

Fascia has previously worked on games such as Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and has worked in the industry for over 13 years.

“I’m really happy to be trusted with this incredible responsibility at Splash Damage,” Marc Fascia said.

“We’re working on some great things, and managing such a big and talented programming team, across multiple varied and challenging projects. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

Big Fish Games

Seattle-based casual games publisher Big Fish Games has hired ex-Rovio and Microsoft marketing head Wibe Wagemans to head up its mobile business.

Wagemans, who flew the Rovio nest back in October, previously held the role of SVP of global brand advertising at the Angry Birds developer, and before that was head of global marketing for Microsoft’s Bing for mobile.

“Wibe is a data-driven brand steward who understands the distinct needs of mobile consumers and how to scale a growing portfolio of first and third-party content to mobile fans worldwide,” said Big Fish CEO Jeremy Lewis.

“With the addition of Wibe, we add another tremendously skilled member to our team.”

Konami

Konami has been through a significant restructuring of its top ranking staff, naming Tomoyuki Tsuboi as president of Konami Digital Entertainment.

He replaces Shinji Hirano (above), who has assumed the role of president of Konami Digital Entertainment Europe.

Tsuboi, who has been at the company for 14 years, is to look to expand the business and build its success around franchises such as Metal Gear Solid, Pro Evolution Soccer and Silent Hill.

Hirano, meanwhile, takes over from previous Europe head Kunio Neo, taking on similar roles to Tsuboi.