Interview

How to get a job at Canadian data-focused F2P dev Icejam

How to get a job at Canadian data-focused F2P dev Icejam

Fresh off the back of $2.1 million seed funding from Build Ventures, Canadian free-to-play studio icejam has a number of vacant positions.

The firm - headquartered in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island - is currently focused on an initiative called Playable Data, by which big data is integrated into actual gameplay.

In light of this, we reached out to icejam founder and CEO Stuart Duncan - also former studio Director at EA Mobile - for more information on company culture, what he looks for in applicants, and advice for those looking to make it in the industry.

PocketGamer.biz: Could you give us some background on icejam and what you do?

Stuart Duncan: We are a mobile games company, founded with the goal of providing players a great new free-to-play game experience - a constantly changing, context-aware game environment.

We do this by incorporating Playable Data - real-time global, local and personal streams of big data - into mobile gameplay using our proprietary Playable Data Platform.

But don’t get us wrong, while we love new tech, we are a creative game studio - with a long list of games to our team’s credit - including one of the top ten grossing iOS games of all time, The Simpsons: Tapped Out.

We’ve been called the godfathers of free-to-play, and while that may be true, we’re here to truly create something new.

We’re here to truly create something new.
Stuart Duncan

What specific areas/disciplines are you currently hiring in?

We have an aggressive expansion in process right now so we are pretty much looking for talent across the board; marketing and user acquisition, developers, support, artists, analytics and testing.

As you're overseeing recruitment at icejam, what do you look for in candidates?

This is a tough question. It’s so individual. We are a “creative first” studio rather than slaves to the “Statistical Mystics,” so that is our guiding principle.

Great mobile games, driven by data, informed by data, but brought to life through imagination.

What’s really important is the ability to see the unlikely connections that within each discipline have the ability to advance the state of the art.

I guess we really want everyone to fit into the overall mix and help us build the world’s most engaging, fun experiences for our players. It’s an exciting adventure we are on, and one hell of a ride!

Why do you think icejam/Charlottetown is a good place to work? How will you be trying to encourage a strong company culture across your domestic and global studios?

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island is a great place to live. The history, the ocean, the food, along with the restaurants and coffee shops - and did I mention the low cost of owning your own home?

It really offers this great creative space to live, work and play. We have a great university, a thriving mobile games industry and, of course, great Canadian health care.

We know deep inside we all want to build great, fun experiences.
Stuart Duncan

We are considering our expansion plans into other locations (icejam has just opened an office in Toronto]  and know building a consistent culture across locations is always a challenge.

But I think that comes from a strong set of company values that come right from the top. We are, as I mentioned, a creative force first.

We know deep inside we all want to build great, fun experiences. We also know that the only way to do that is to respect and value everyone’s input as well respect their work/life balance.

What advice would you have for someone trying to get into the games industry?

It’s a great industry to be in, with lots of opportunity for personal growth. First, I think you need to have your portfolio ready to show at any time.

Even if you are not a visual artist, sharing things you have worked on and having the ability to say, “I did that” or “I worked on the team that did this” is a great place to start a conversation.

Second, I think that from the creative development perspective a small studio can really give the opportunity to learn a broad set of skills. In larger companies the roles tend to be more specialised.

While the resumé looks good with a big name studio or publisher on it, the underlying skills tend to be narrower and can be somewhat stifling.

In a smaller company you can make a bigger impact, especially one that is growing.

A full list of icejam vacancies can be found on its jobs page.

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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