Interview

Jobs in Games: Rovio London's new Executive Producer Will Luton shares career insights

Jobs in Games: Rovio London's new Executive Producer Will Luton shares career insights

It takes a great number of individuals working together in various disciplines to make any commercial enterprise function.

The mobile games industry is certainly no exception, offering dynamic and diverse roles to thousands the world over.

As such, PocketGamer.biz has decided to celebrate this with a regular series of interviews where each week we chat to a mobile games industry professional from a different field - be it game design, art, or PR - to learn about how they bagged that job in games.

Obviously every career path is different, but the goal is to give a picture of the sorts of skills, qualifications and ambition one might need to find themselves in such a role - and how we can all learn from it.

This time, the spotlight is on Will Luton, Executive Producer at Rovio London and Product Lead on its upcoming mobile MMO.

Luton was formerly Senior Product Manager on Angry Birds 2 at Rovio's Stockholm studio, and has also held roles at A Thinking Ape, TinyCo and Sega Europe.

PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a little about your current role and what it entails.

Will Luton: I’m the lead product person (or Product Lead) for what is Rovio London’s first title.

Right now I’m working with Head of Studio Mark Sorrell to hire key staff and build the culture, while also writing concept docs, working on monetisation design and coding prototypes.

I don’t think there is one way into the industry. Really what is key is: start making games, start talking to people, get out of your comfort zone and hustle.
Will Luton

As we bring more into the team, this will expand out to leading the product vision and working on more high-level design.

How did you progress into this role?

I had been in contact with Rovio over the years, including as a consultant, and had talked about various positions with them.

At the end of last Summer, when I was looking for a new position, Mark (who was then VP Product) got in contact and we chatted about the company and where it was going.

Rovio was a company I had a lot of respect for, and it felt like the right time for where both me and the company were at.

So I joined Stockholm for six months on Angry Birds 2 as Senior Product Manager before moving to London last month.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

Totally. I’d always wanted to lead teams making games.

What did you study to get your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?

I was in my second year of a BSc Physics and trying to work out how to get into games. The only advice I got was “be a programmer”, which really didn’t appeal to me even though I was taking all the Computer Science electives I could.

There was a creative side I knew I had to fulfil.

So I dropped out and a year later started BA Computer Games Design at the University of Huddersfield. The course was pretty poor - just a bunch of recycled multimedia and fine art courses slammed together.

Will Luton previously worked at Rovio Stockholm on the Angry Birds 2 team

I couldn’t recommend it, but it did give me three years to build a portfolio across art and design. I was also fortunate to take a year in industry and managed to hustle my way into an Assistant Producer role at SEGA Europe.

That work experience opened a lot of doors.

I don’t think there is one way into the industry. Really what is key is to get out and do: start making games, start talking to people, get out of your comfort zone and hustle.

Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?

You don’t need to crunch.

Feel free to say no to crunch if you’re asked. Manage your time, exercise, eat well and sleep well.
Will Luton

When I joined the industry, I heard horror stories and thought sleeping under your desk was a rite of passage.

However, I’ve never slept over in the office and the times that I’ve done 12 hour days I can count on one hand. And I’ve only done those because I wanted to.

So feel free to say no to crunch if you’re asked. Manage your time, exercise, eat well and sleep well then you will outperform everyone around you.

What other advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?

Mind Candy used to have this poster in their office that said: “Work hard and be nice to people”. It really stuck with me.

Success in games (and anything in life) isn’t so much about how smart you are as it is your dedication, focus and ability to work with people.

These areas are something I’m always striving to improve upon because they’re more transferable and effective than the specifics of any job you’ll likely do.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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