The games industry is no different, and here at PocketGamer.biz we wanted to do our part and help bring attention to the many incredible people of colour that help make up this sector. That is why we are committing to a new long-term regular feature to spotlight these people and their careers.
So, welcome to our new ‘POC in Mobile‘ series, where discussion about finding a place in the games industry, the various challenges faced as a minority, and what truly needs to be done to make games more diverse will be the focal points of conversations.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you start off by telling us about your role in mobile games and what it entails?
Sam Quino: I am a brand manager at Behaviour Interactive, working on Dead by Daylight Mobile which is a fun multiplayer survival-horror game. I am responsible for administering the brand and marketing strategies and working together with my wonderful team to execute them.
For those who want to get into the 2D and 3D art fields, Procreate and Blender remain my go-to tools when I work on art for my personal projects.
Why did you want to work in the mobile games industry?
I’m from the Philippines where the gaming behaviour is more inclined towards mobile gaming because mobile phones are the most economically accessible gaming device. The thought of making games that more people can play has always had a special appeal to me, and that’s what the mobile games industry essentially enables.
Ironically, I never thought I would be able to work in the games industry. It always seemed like a far- fetched dream to me as a Filipino kid. I spent years building a career in media, entertainment, and even real estate before realising that working in games is not impossible.
Having my dream come true, seeing Filipino gaming communities grow outside of the upper-class communities, and watching how excited and happy they are to play the game I work on truly makes me feel fulfilled.
How would you recommend people get started in games? Any tools or literature you would advise?
It really depends on the field of expertise you’d like to work in. The first step to getting started in games is understanding and determining what it is in games that you would like to do and achieve.
If you want to get started in programming, you can choose a game engine and learn from the many resources those companies usually provide. I started with GameMaker and then moved on to Unity to learn how to do gameplay. But programming itself branches to a variety of roles in the industry other than gameplay.
For those who want to get into the 2D and 3D art fields, Procreate and Blender remains my go-to tools when I work on art for my personal projects. You can easily advance to paid tools that will enable you to do more.
For aspiring designers, there are a plethora of resources available online to help you design compelling games. The best to start with is the game you’re currently addicted to right now. Understand what appeals to you the most, what appeals to your friends, to influencers, to games communities. Get to know the creators of the game and look for online resources where they share behind the scenes, insights, and creation process.
For those looking for roles in business/corporate, product, and marketing like myself, perhaps one of the most important skills to have is your understanding of the industry. PocketGamer.biz offers many resources about the business of mobile games so scouring through the many feature articles and news updates will get you up to speed.
Some books that helped me kickstart my career in games are:
- Celia Hodent’s The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX Can Impact Video Game Design
- Virtual Economies by Edward Castronova and Vili Lehdonvirta
- Video Game Marketing Student Textbook by Peter Zackariasson and Mikolaj Dymek
- Rise of the Video Game Zinesters by Anna Antrophy
There are many entries to the video games industry. Once you understand what it is you want to do, it’ll be easier to get your feet wet.
What did you study (if anything) for your role? Are there any courses out there that you would advise for aspiring professionals?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Social Science and did post-grad in Brand Management and Business Administration. I think studying those did help but not as much as it would if I were in another industry.
My advice for aspiring professionals is to learn not just from their usual fields but also take fresh perspectives. The games industry, especially mobile, is still young and growing so someone who is willing to start from scratch, learn new things, and innovate will have far more potential regardless of their education and background.
What do you think should be done to improve diversity, not only across the games industry, but across all industries?
I think all industries know by now why diversity is important but there is still a lack of commitment in organisations because they often just react to movements tied to diversity when they resurface. The results often just lead to preventative policies and recruitment initiatives. But the commitment to diversity should not just fall to HR and recruitment teams.
Companies need to better align diversity and inclusion practices with business goals to clearly identify what they want to achieve and why they want to achieve it. Whether it’s to expand their customer base, drive innovation, improve margins, organisations need understand what the goal is across all levels to know what kind of initiatives must be done to make workplace diversity a reality.
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered since joining the industry?
Given the current news in the industry, I’ve sadly had my fair share of horror stories to tell both as a woman and a Filipino. I think the biggest challenge that I’ve dealt with is the struggle to have a voice and be visible without having to assimilate or change parts of my identity just so I can better fit into the kind of culture the industry is used to. So, because of this, I’ve always felt like I had to put in more work than my male and white colleagues.
It got better the moment I realised that those studios don’t deserve me and that there are others that would value my work and passion. I’m really lucky to have found a place at Behaviour where I am recognised for my work and where I feel safe and supported by my colleagues.
Dead by Daylight Mobile alone has almost 50 per cent women and 20 per cent from diverse backgrounds.
My teams at Behaviour are probably also the most diverse teams I’ve worked with, with many women in leadership positions and teammates from all around the world. Dead by Daylight Mobile alone has almost 50 per cent women and 20 per cent from diverse backgrounds. It’s such an amazing team to work with.
What do you think can be done to help encourage more people of colour to get into games?
Perhaps one thing companies can do better to encourage more people of colour into the industry is investing earlier in the hiring pipeline. By this, I mean investing in initiatives like Game Devs of Color Expo or organisations like Reboot Representation that help increase the number of underrepresented minorities in tech and equip them for a career in video games.
Is there anything that recruiters should be doing differently to address the lack of diversity across not only games development but all industries?
Yes, certainly. Recruiters need to increase their efforts in attracting a wider pool of potential new hires. This means going beyond the usual recruitment channels of referrals or university career fairs and making sure job postings are inclusive. I see many job descriptions nowadays that have unnecessarily long lists of ‘required’ skills. While most would think it’s a good way to filter applications, what it actually does is limit your pool of potential candidates to cis-male and white-dominated applicants.
Moreover, recruitment teams need to ensure that unconscious bias is reduced in the hiring process – especially for the hiring manager. If companies don’t diversify the recruitment process, then the efforts to diversify recruitment outreach will be a waste of money.
Since the recent surge in the #BlackLivesMatters campaign, what changes (if any) have you seen from across the industry to address the issue?
We can’t deny that the recent protests have been historic, so it was definitely refreshing and empowering to see many video game companies support the movement. I think the industry is rethinking and putting a priority to diversity and inclusion in the workplace following not just #BlackLivesMatter but also the sexual harassment reports that resurfaced.
In general, I think the video games industry can do better and we have to accept the fact that the stories we tell, the imagery we show, our games are all political whether we like it or not. We must make use of that influence to push for progress instead of avoiding it in fear of angry non-political gamers.
I’m extremely proud of how Behaviour as a company and Dead by Daylight as a team openly addressed the issues and used our clout to support and empower the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Behaviour focused on helping local Black communities, and the Dead by Daylight community teams went as far as blocking and even giving sass to gamers propagating hate against the BLM and Pride movements.
This is something I rarely see in video game brands of that scale. Our players are diverse, especially now with the growth of mobile gaming. We owe it to them to contribute to changing how the world views and treats them not just by ensuring our workforce is diverse but also openly supporting the movements that strive to make progress.
Even until after all the tweets are done, we’ll continue to do our homework in our games and as a company and for that I couldn’t be prouder. I am hopeful more companies in the industry are doing the same.
What advice do you have for other people of colour that are looking at getting into games?
Don’t be afraid to give it a shot. It will seem overwhelming or difficult at first but remember that you aren’t alone. If you are a person of colour looking for mentorship in various game development fields, here is a list of contacts you can reach out to, myself included. Feel free to reach out!