Interview

Jobs in Games: Glu Mobile's Mark Van Ryswyk on how to get a job as a Studio Head

Jobs in Games: Glu Mobile's Mark Van Ryswyk on how to get a job as a Studio Head

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 Mark van Ryswyk, Senior Vice President of Studios at Glu Mobile.

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

Mark van Ryswyk: My role at Glu is Senior Vice President of Studios, leading Covet Fashion, Design Home and external development.

I work with incredibly talented teams and individuals across a variety of disciplines, from game General Managers, Product Designers, Product Managers, Art Directors, Engineers through to our Publishing team.

I’m responsible for bringing this talented group together to assess emerging trends across games and technology; understand how our users are engaging in our games; exploring how our brand partners can enhance the play experience; as well as assess new business models and how they impact our game economies.

The key to me is having a deep understanding of our players and empowering developers.
Mark van Ryswyk

We bring all this together as part of our creative journey to define where the opportunities are to delight our players in our current as well as future games.

At the heart of it, the key to me is having a deep understanding of our players and empowering developers so that they can deliver premium experiences to our players every day.

How did you first get into games and how did you progress into this role?

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to do a lot of different jobs in the gaming industry.

I started in EA Sports leading localisation and went on to serve in a variety of different roles, from Chief Operating Officer of EA Mobile to Group General Manager across several mobile products.

Over the last 16 years I’ve had the chance to work across multiple platforms, genres and studios like EA Sports, Visceral Games, EA Mobile and now at Glu.

Games are constantly evolving, and thus our industry is always facing various forms of disruption. The sector embraces individuals that are eager to learn and adapt themselves.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

We work in an industry that creates new opportunities on a consistent basis; we are only limited by our own imagination.

When I started in the industry, gaming was about consoles and PCs. Mobile captured my attention when games like Angry Birds and Flight Control launched.

Rovio's Angry Birds ignited an industry's imagination

These games changed the way we interacted with mobile. Seeing how quickly mobile devices were evolving, I knew I wanted to be part of it.

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

I studied business administration, and although my finance background still does come in handy it is not what got me into my role.

I’m not sure there is any one path that prepares you for a studio GM role.
Mark van Ryswyk

There’s lots of great programs out there, from design to engineering, but I’m not sure there is any one path that prepares you for a studio GM role.

Our philosophy is that everyone in the studio is a game maker and what we strive for is to create an environment where we empower our developers to lead.

I believe it’s about fostering this environment where people can be bold, and with support, develop the skills to lead.

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

Always be curious. In order to keep our audience engaged, we always need to be learning.

We are extremely proud of Design Home, created by a talented team that has an unrelenting curiosity and desire to change the way players engage in home décor.

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

Demonstrate your ability to think outside the box.

Games have changed many aspects of our daily lives whether it’s the rewards we collect, how we work out or how we connect with others.

Games themselves will also continue to evolve with new forms of play. It’s about constantly learning and discovering, and ultimately demonstrating the ability to innovate.

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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