My First year in games
The first year of my journey from banking to games has passed. From suits and ties, to jeans and trainers. From stocks and shares, to power boosts and gold coins. I’ve been blown away with what I’ve seen, and so thought I’d share my biggest experiences of the past 12 months.
To put this all in perspective, I’d spent 17 years in finance, at two big, highly regarded and successful investment banks. Call it a mid-life crisis or a sudden rush of blood to the head, but I decided to leave at the end of 2016, for something new. I’m a complete control freak (just ask my wife), and no one believed I hadn’t planned my next step, but I absolutely hadn’t. In hindsight – what was I thinking?!?!
After a LOT of coffees and meetings, I was introduced to Harvey Elliott, who described his refreshing vision for the PlayStack Family, and before I knew it, we were building PlayIgnite, a business solely focused on helping studios to scale. It took me a while to adjust, to learn how things worked, but I’ve never looked back. Here are my main takeaways:
1 – Dress Sense
In my old job, I wore a suit every day, with either a blue or a white shirt. If i was feeling fruity and wanted to mix it up, i might wear some coloured socks or funky cufflinks. It was pretty rock ’n roll. In the gaming space, it’s jeans and whatever else goes. It’s pretty cool to wear big headphones around your neck as you hang out, but I just think I’m too much of a middle aged dad! Facial hair is pretty “a la mode” too, but mine is too grey and quite patchy…
2 – Games people are insanely smart.
And I mean INSANELY smart. There’s so much more to making a game than I ever thought. Analytics, data, art, design, storytelling, UI, UX, UA, coding, systems, commercial thinking, budgets, marketing plans, partnerships. There’s so much to do; and gaming folk do it all. My personal edge is that I like numbers, and excel, and coloured tabs – pretty game changing for the industry don’t you agree?
3 – Cosplay
So I’ve now done a full year on the games conference circuit. I’m a pro now, and I still love these events (many games veterans don’t feel quite the same way!). From GDC to Gamescom, from DEVELOP to PGC London; there are so many. There’s a business and a consumer side, and at the first few conferences I spent way too long on the consumer side. But if you were me, you would have done the same – for one reason. Everyone dresses up as their favourite games characters. It’s nuts. They’re everywhere and they’re so passionate and committed. I spent quite a while snapping all the crazy outfits – and other stuff.This is my favourite picture I took – I know the feeling!! Next one I go to, I’m taking my Batman outfit (and then Captain America – to change in to for the afternoon sessions!).
4 – I’m pretty cool now
My kids were never impressed by my old job. As far as they were concerned, I worked in a Lloyds branch, counting cash and taking cheques. But now I’m pretty cool – I’m “in games”. Most days I come home with a new game, from a great new studio I’ve met, and when I show them, they are so impressed. They believe I actually made the games, and I don’t have the heart to shatter the illusion just yet. As far as they’re concerned, I’m Ubisoft, King and EA, all wrapped up inside one (super) man’s body. Why mess with that?
5 – The People
Everyone is insanely friendly. I come from a world where everyone is always stressed. In this new world, people chat, and they’re all really friendly. Now, I’m a bit of a grumpy git, but even I like this! In our office, there’s a lot of talk about fantasy football (FYI – I’ve had a terrible gut-wrenching season), wrestling, cycling, games (of course), food (my favourite topic) – anything. And people want to help; my mind was blown! Whether it’s intros, UA platforms, making suggestions (helpful ones!), or just collaborating…..the list goes on.
6 – Apps
My daily app consumption was a mix of Bloomberg, HSBC, Daily Mail (sorry!) and LinkedIn (“how many people viewed my profile? Please say I’m popular….”). Now I have about 50 games, The Daily Mail never gets a look-in, and I joined Instagram (I follow Fortnite + Clash Royale – I’m so cool – see above). I even tweet; PlayIgnite has its own twitter account which I actually know how to use. Then there’s Google Drive, TimeTastic, Perkbox, Xero, Slack, Pipedrive, Dropbox – Im so new-tech now.
7 – Freebies
The freebies are awesome. Here’s the list so far. Portable mobile phone charger. Fidget-y cube thing for my desk. Fortnite T shirts (gave them to my kids as my “I missed you while I was at GDC” present – they thought I bought them. p’ah!), Pens (less glamorous), Clash Royale Cap, Chocolates (always a winner), and some epic brownies (not that kind!).
In short, the year has flown by, and I am still as excited as I was at the beginning. At PlayIgnite, we’re building something amazing. I can’t tell you how many studios I meet who make awesome games, but just need help to scale. We have big plans, and a lot more to do, but if the next 12 months is as good as the first, then I’ll be a happy ex-banker.