🌞 Earlywork #43: How to Break Into Gaming Careers
Featuring interviews with Rockson Chan, Alisha Doring & James Pan, Gigs from Elker & Airwallex, and a 1MH with Sharon Sheah (Founder @ Nimbly)
Hello there fellow Earlyworkers!
Baked fresh for you today is Earlywork #43, a careers newsletter providing free career resources, news, jobs & interviews for young Australians in the tech & startup landscape.
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💡Weekly Cheeky Tip
Had you told me 10 years ago that you could build a prosperous, reputable and lucrative career in gaming… well my career trajectory may have panned out slightly differently.
In what would possibly be the most satisfying “I told you so” to that nagging parent that told you to stop wasting your life away on video games, this is certainly a realistic possibility in today’s world.
So much so that a high school in Melbourne recently launched a class dedicated to e-sports for Year 9 students, enabling students to learn about the professional gaming industry.
A little known fact is that I was actually on the path to stardom in gaming, having my first big break in eSports winning a FIFA competition to go play in Darling Harbour… should’ve stuck at it.
The gaming industry is pretty friggn big, recently valued at ~$180b, growing at ~20% YoY and the world is starting to take note.
Even Netflix is getting in on the action, acquiring a game developer called Night School Studio last month.
Australia has quite a rich history in gaming. Bet you didn’t know that Halfbrick Studios, the folks behind everyone’s favourite fruit slicing game, Fruit Ninja, was founded in Brisbane (aka Brisvegas) in 2001.
Fast forward a couple decades and Australia has become the birthplace of a few startups making some serious global moves in this fast-growing industry:
GGWP Academy, a bit earlier on in the journey to global stardom, helps gamers manage monetisation and engagement through their content creation.
💼 Gaming Careers
Career wise, the gaming industry is typically broken down into a combination of creative, technology and commercial roles to build, design and sell games.
We were lucky enough to sit down and chat to operators from these three aforementioned startups in Rockson Chan (Senior PM @ Immutable), Alisha Doring (People Experience Lead @ VHS) & James Pan (Software Engineer @ GGWP) to learn more about their day-to-days and advice for job seekers looking to break in.
First we spoke to Rockson, to learn more about why he got involved in gaming:
Before joining Immutable, I have always had a huge passion for gaming. I'd say during my childhood and teenage years, beyond music and basketball, gaming was where I spent most of my time.
For me personally, the virtual world is a place where no one really cared about who I was and I could truly express my competitiveness without any physical limitation. (i.e.. I'm too short and slow to be in the NBA)
Coming back to the question, I'm working in the gaming industry now because:
I believe this is a future where gaming is beyond simply entertainment: With the adoption of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), there is the opportunity for the gaming industry to completely flip its narrative from just a form of entertainment where people spend time on, to an avenue where gamer that might make a living by playing games or some might be creating metaverse on top of an existing IP. The future is limitless and that excites me.
Innovations and learnings in the gaming industry: The gaming audience is notorious for being some of the most vocal and critical consumers out in the digital world. Because of this, gaming companies have to consistently push themselves to improve their existing product, experience and offerings. Coming from working in SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) companies before joining Immutable, many of the skillsets are transferable.
The way we look at product growth, strategising for user acquisition, activation, retention, monetisation, the principles are very similar across SaaS and gaming. I personally love the ability for me to experience, learn, fail and iterate my knowledge and skillset.
You’re a Senior PM at Immutable, sounds pretty shnazzy, what do you actually do?
I'm currently leading the product growth and the token team for Gods Unchained. Every day is quite different for me but I typically bring down my day-to-day role in 6 segments:
Product Strategy: This is typically not something that I will do every single day, but during the start of a quarter, as a team lead, my role is to set the overarching strategy, collaborate with the leadership team as well as my team to define our quarterly goal and set the roadmap to achieve the goal. Throughout the quarter, I will likely have to revisit the strategy and make adjustments along the way as things never go as planned.
Product Operation: This is about working with the wider organisation or external partners to ensure that the delivery of the product is successful. Both internally with processes and externally with potential partners, to amplify growth of our products.
Data analysis: I would think that I'm pretty data-driven and this is crucial for any product folks. Data analysis could be surveying a group of users to understand their current pain point, or using Amplitude to run different quantitative analyses, or, writing simple SQL myself to extract data from the database and extract insights using Google Sheets.
The goal is to extract as many insights as possible to form different assumptions that will help me to make different product decisions. Importantly, the data is also helpful in crafting a story to bring the team onboard to understand why we are working on solving a particular problem.
Product execution: This is all about getting sh!t done! Working closely with the team to discuss how engineers will approach building a feature; Writing product briefs; Mapping out the system process, user flow; Going into huddles with the team to ensure that we are delivering the product that we wanted in the first place and unblocking the team,
Influencing people: This is where a great product manager can differentiate themselves from being just a good product manager. I spend a good portion of my day working with the head of the department, leadership team, other team leads and my team to ensure that everything is aligned.
Finally, any advice to job seekers looking to break into gaming?
Side projects! Whether this is someone that is looking to break into gaming or the tech world, this is one thing that will make them stand out from the rest of the crowd.
At the end of the day, as a hiring manager, if two individuals are on a similar level in terms of their skillset, what it comes down to is their ability to show their passion and their will to continue to improve themselves.
There is no better way to determine that than creating a passion project on the side. It does not have to be perfect, the key to a passion project is to show that you are learning, iterating and that you have a genuine interest in what you do.
Next we spoke to Alisha, who leads people experiences at VHS and hear a bit more about why she got into gaming, coming from quite a tenured startup background with Tank Stream Labs, Finder, Practice Ignition and Canva:
What we are doing at Virtually Human is defining the future of entertainment and creating new experiences through emerging tech. ZED RUN is our flagship game built on the blockchain that lets you own, breed, and race digital racehorse NFTs. People around the world are connecting competitively for fun on futuristic racetracks 24/7. This is such an interesting space to be involved in and it was such an exciting opportunity to get in on the ground floor!
What do you look after in your day-to-day:
My role sits in the People & Culture team, myself and my teammate Rebecca are working alongside the team to build on the amazing culture here and to build out the team itself. We are growing quickly and are always looking for great talent to join our team.
Given you sit in people & culture, any advice for job seekers?
Build relationships, jump into Discord, shoot over an email or LinkedIn message to the team you’d love to join. It’s such a fast growing space, it pays to stand out and communicate your passion! Here are our open roles!
Lastly we spoke with James, who’s working as a software engineer at GGWP to learn a bit more about why he got into gaming:
Gaming has been a huge part of my life ever since I was young, growing up with a Gameboy stuck to my hands to now roaming the realms of League of Legends in my free time. For me, an opportunity to apply my skills in software development inside an industry that I was passionate about and has immense potential for growth was a no brainer.
What do your day-to-day responsibilities look like?
At GGWP, my main role involves developing the product but commonly crosses me over into design and product management. Since the team is still quite small, all of us often need to switch hats and get ourselves involved in various aspects of the business. It's been a great learning opportunity for me especially, discovering the many different cogs that run the company.
Given this was your first role after university, any advice to share with job seekers?
Be actively involved in the gaming industry, either through just casual gaming or content creation such as Twitch or Youtube. This will help you understand the ‘metaverse’ and keep up to date to the recent happenings within the ever changing landscape of gaming. Apart from that, I think that to be able to enter and thrive in the gaming industry, it’s extremely crucial to mesh and vibe well with the people.
What content would you like us to cover next? Anything we missed? Keen to share your own Weekly Cheeky Tip?
🌏 Earlywork Community
👀 Key Updates
What’s been happening in the community? Biiiiig week at EW HQ ✨
Released our next Earlywork Masterclass, 🍀Dishin’ the Dirt on Cleantech🍀 with Kiya Taylor (Head of Platform & Community @ EVP & Podcast host for Rewired) & Nick Zeltzer - Associate Director, Innovation Fund @ Clean Energy Finance Corporation & Co-host of A Positive Climate Podcast).
Launched our inaugural 🎤Earlywork Community Pitch Night🎤 The goal of this event is to practice your pitch, get some exposure and maybe ask for help from the community. We’re looking for pre-slides, pre-product-market-fit and pre-investment pitches, so no idea is too early for EarlyPitch!
Introduced location slack channels 📍 (#au-sydney, #au-melbourne, #au-adelaide, #au-brisbane, #au-perth, #nz) to meet local Earlyworkers!
📚 Trending Topics
Our favourite reads and resources being discussed in the Earlywork community.
Sotheby’s launched its own curated NFT marketplace: World’s largest auction house deep in the crypto game… probably nothing.
Facebook is planning a rebrand 👀: Meta? Metabook? The Social Network?
🔎 Gigs Spotlight
💪 Customer Success @ Elker (Sydney)
This role is perfect for someone looking to own and build out the customer success function at a fast-growing early stage LegalTech startup that already demonstrated PMF and picked up some big ticket customers.
Check it out and apply at 👉 earlywork.co/gigs
⚙ Graduate Software Engineer @ Airwallex (Sydney, Melbourne, Remote)
Join the graduate program of one the fastest growing tech companies in APAC building out the future of global cross-border payments, raising over $700m to date. They offer a flexible working environment and a competitive compensation package.
Check it out and apply at 👉 earlywork.co/gigs
Disclosure: we are paid to promote these roles
1️⃣ 🕐 💪 One Minute Hustle
We are back once again with One Minute Hustle, a bite-sized interview with an emerging Australian young startup founder or operator.
This week, let’s get inside the noggin of a former pathology student turned DeFi project founder and full stack dev 🤯
Sharon Sheah, Founder @ Nimbly
⚙️ What are you working on?
Nimbly is an easy onboarding service for people who are time-poor and new to crypto to use DeFi (decentralised finance) as their savings account to earn high and stable yields. You would only need to deposit AUD and we will handle the rest! We have also recently launched Nimbly Academy, with easy-to-understand DeFi and blockchain-related content. I’m mainly responsible for UI/UX design and product engineering, but also a little bit of everything.
🌱 How’d you get started?
My friends and I who are in the crypto space have been finding that the barrier of entry into DeFi/crypto can be very high. The DeFi user experience can be pretty scattered, daunting and confusing. So we explored different areas that we can help lower the barrier for and felt that DeFi was the most relevant to the people around us. In May 2021, we started from a Buy Now Pay Later idea and kept iterating until we landed on Nimbly! We are now in V2 of our MVP and have bootstrapped our entire project thus far.
🤔 Why do you do what you do?
As I’m originally from Malaysia, I have many people I know who are struggling financially even before the pandemic and lack opportunities just because of their geographical location and race. This problem is not only unique to Malaysia but applies to the whole of Southeast Asia and many other continents. I’m deeply convicted by Nimbly’s mission to bring DeFi to the masses as I truly believe that DeFi gives people access to a global, open and unbiased financial system, which gives people uncorrupted fair and free finance. If you want to get in touch, feel free to do so via email, Twitter or LinkedIn!
Keen to share your story, or know a young startup founder or operator we should feature next?
Share your deets and we’ll get in touch!
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Ciao for now,