Simon Wilkinson works as a Community & Promotions Executive at Gamesys, an online gaming publisher. Simon shares how he landed up in gaming after starting out as a creative copywriter.
How did your career begin, tell us about your education and the first job you ever landed?
The first job I ever landed was awful. I worked as first line IT Support for a computing company. I got it after I dropped out of A levels, and after six months I couldn't bare it any longer! I went back to school, got a Btec in Graphic Design from my local college and made my way to Lincoln University. I studied a three year course in Creative Advertising, specialising as a Copywriter in my final year.
Armed with a fully-fledged degree, an Art Director and a whole bunch of emails, we contacted anyone and everyone we could get our hands on in the creative industry. We (very luckily it would seem) got a quick response from a creative agency in London called Blue Hive. They took us on for a two week placement, and much to our surprise offered £200 p/w each! We worked our asses off for two weeks, getting our placement extended for another two weeks. We worked on some really great concepts, and after a whole three months we thought we'd got a full time job locked in.
"We worked our asses off for two weeks, getting our placement extended for another two weeks."
However, it wasn't all plain sailing (we took the boat to work!). After the three months the agency decided to shut down their placement programme, and told us they didn't have any room for a new junior team. We were devastated. We used some of our contacts through Blue Hive to get a little bit of freelance work at an agency called Wunderman but that only lasted a week. After that, came the drought. No one was biting on the emails and no one was offering up freelance for juniors. With the move to London, and bills coming left, right and center we started to hit the classifieds.
How did you clinch your job in social gaming?
I got my current position as 'Community and Promotions executive' through a recruiter. I have always been a big gamer and was really interested in creative jobs within the games industry. I took myself along to Piccadilly Circus to an impressive office for an interview at Gamesys. I wasn't sure what to expect from them, but after a really casual and fun chat they offered me the job on the day!
"Don't let your mind get bored by repetitive, monotonous tasks."
What’s been the most rewarding piece of work you’ve worked on so far?
It's got to be when we worked on the fiesta24 app for Facebook. It was a really exciting piece of social software, that lets users create their own history. The process from start to finish was awesome and the team we worked with was great. The app went on to win a Shorty for best use of Social Media.
What’s your role and how might your typical day pan out?
I've really enjoyed the role here. I've had lots of opportunities to develop my copywriting skills in loads of different ways. I get to write a lot of short form copy for Facebook and Twitter as well as making sure brand voice is consistent across all copy in the game.
What wisdom would you pass onto others looking to break into the games industry?
Firstly, you've got to have a passion that's more than just 'I like playing video games'. As (sorry to burst anyone's bubble) that's not what we do all day. Social gaming is a pretty ruthless sector, similar to the creative industry you see a lot of staff come and go. But if your interested there are loads of ways to get a foot in. There are technical jobs, testing jobs, marketing jobs and if you're lucky a few creative ones too. Edge and Games Industry are some good sites to browse.
Where do you find inspiration?
It's a cliché, but inspiration can come from anywhere. I always try to be open to new things. Don't let your mind get bored by repetitive, monotonous tasks. The most recent thing I've been doing is swapping iPod's with someone for a day. Listening to someone else's music is a really great way to separate yourself from the norm, you've got to do it blind though AND no skipping!
"Social gaming is a pretty ruthless sector, similar to the creative industry you see a lot of staff come and go."
If you could share a desk with anyone, who would it be?
Arnold Schwarzenegger. I just think it would be really funny to see him hold a tiny mouse with his horrendously large hands, and pressing the keyboard keys really delicately. Followed by inevitable rage, causing him to crush the monitor into a cube. Also, I bet he's got some wicked stories!
In your spare time, what do you get up to?
I'm a big gamer, I play most of my games on PC, but I am enjoying the next-gen console wars right now. I'm also fanatical about cars. It is, for me, the BEST reason for living in London, there are so many hot cars! When I'm not drooling over cars, I ride motocross too.