Interview

Jobs in Games: Spil Games' Franz Stradal on how to get a job as a VP of Content

Jobs in Games: Spil Games' Franz Stradal on how to get a job as a VP of Content

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 Franz Stradal, VP of Content at Spil Games.

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

Franz Stradal: I am responsible for creating content. That can mean coming up with something completely original or reinventing from existing ideas.

I work with an awesome team of experienced producers and game designers, and together we analyse the market, look for business opportunities, review our IPs and plan games.

Currently, we are working very hard to expand our mobile games portfolio. We’ve gone from 30 million installs to nearly 200 million in the last two years.

We analyse the market, look for business opportunities and review our IPs.
Franz Stradal

But that means a big part of the job is keeping track of how people are engaging with games on mobile.

Even while a product is in development we review its progress and reassess the App Store market.

We are constantly fine-tuning our games to make them as much fun to play as possible and to reach as big an audience as possible.

How did you first get into this job?

I’ve done all sorts of jobs in the gaming industry. I started as a game designer but I’ve been a developer, a producer, a creative director and many other things.

I’ve been in the industry nearly 30 years and my experience is eclectic to say the least.

I’m not sure it makes me the best Vice President of Content, but it does give me a deep sea of ideas and knowledge to swim around in.

It’s important to understand what is doable and what you have to do to get a game done.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

No, never. I think this is true for a lot of people in the industry.

We work and live in today’s game and the games we’re working on for tomorrow, but we don’t really plan a career.

Currently, we are working on a game for the Luc Besson movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and on another project with gaming legend Nolan Bushnell on his first ever mobile game.

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell (centre) is now working with Spil

It’s awesome that those guys chose to work with us and I’m having an amazing time. But if you’d asked me two years ago what I would be doing now, I would never have foreseen this.

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

In the 1980s, gaming wasn’t something you studied, it was something you sneaked out of studies to have fun with.

Gaming wasn’t something you studied, it was something you sneaked out of studies to have fun with.
Franz Stradal

I gave up part way through my electrical engineering degree because I got sucked into the wonderful possibilities of personal computing.

I think I’m pretty well educated in my field, but I’m self-taught. If I was starting out today, there are much better opportunities in education.

If you want to get into gaming, there are specialised courses in game design, development, producing, user experience and many other areas. Some of these seem like an excellent way to get started.

But I don’t think any amount of studying can replace talent.

Gaming is like the movies or any other art form - you need that creative spark. Training can’t make you talented but I think it can give you the skills to make the most of your talent.

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

Oh yes. I wish I had known how exhausting it would be.

Don’t get me wrong, it is an incredibly fulfilling job. I just wish I’d got into it earlier.

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

Prove your motivation. It’s not enough to be interested in games.

Do you have what it takes to make games a great experience for others? You have to think a lot about the player’s journey.

Spil Games is hiring.

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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