Interview

Jobs in Games: PlayRaven's Paul Kurowski on how to get a job as a Game Lead

Spymaster Game Lead shares career insights

Jobs in Games: PlayRaven's Paul Kurowski on how to get a job as a Game Lead

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 Paul Kurowski, Game Lead on the upcoming Spymaster at Finnish developer PlayRaven.

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

Paul Kurowski: I’m a Game Lead at PlayRaven. I lead a small team developing new IP for the company.

It’s a shimmering chimera of production, design and communication. I’m responsible for managing development, liaising with support staff and externals, and ultimately for delivering games that align with the company’s strategic goals.

My job is to keep a team of great developers pushing in the same direction and towards a worthwhile destination.
Paul Kurowski

Day-to-day, my job is mainly to keep a team of great game developers pushing in the same direction and towards a worthwhile destination.

How did you first get into this job?

I started as an artist on PC and console games about 20 years ago. I was an artist and lead artist for about nine years, and since then I’ve worked in production and as a writer and creative director.

This particular job I applied for because of my interest in mobile free-to-play, because PlayRaven are a company trying to do something different in the mobile space and because Helsinki sounded like a cool place to be.

And it is.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

I’ve never really imagined myself doing anything else other than video games.

Having said that, the specifics of the job are something you constantly have to adapt to, so it’s more like I can’t imagine what I might be doing five years from now.

The market, the technology, it changes all the time - and that’s part of the fun.

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

I studied English Literature at university. It was zero help getting me into the industry (that happened by accident and luck) but it’s been useful in unpredictable ways over the years.

There’s not really a direct route to this particular role. I don’t see it as the end of an academic track. It’s more an accumulation of experience.

I think it helps to have a solid background in development, because that gives you a better handle on the issues. And you have to like people.

PlayRaven's Helsinki studio

In terms of getting into development, I would say specialised courses are always better than general game courses. Solid skills such as engineering, UX design, data analysis, whatever. Go deep on something.

You’ll learn the specifics of game development on the job, and that learning will never stop.

If you’re going to excel at something, you’re going to have to accept it as an irritatingly persistent life partner.
Paul Kurowski

Courses will only get you so far. If you’re going to excel at something, then you’re going to have to accept it as an irritatingly persistent life partner.

Tap into a community of experts. The internet is the fount of all knowledge in this regard. It’s not about what qualifications you’ve got, it’s about what you can do.

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

It never stops changing. The one constant is that people are everything; the people you work with and the people that play your games.

Making games is about collaboration. It’s a broad church, so look for people you like and a project you care about.

It’s hard enough without swimming against the tide. When you find the right kind of creative synergy, brilliant things can happen.

And think about who you want to make games for and why they will care. If you’re not making games that connect with people in some way, then what’s the point?

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

Specialise in something. Find the thing you like to do and absolutely hammer on it. There’s no short cut, just hard work, so you’d better enjoy it. People with hard skills stick out.

The upcoming Spymaster, on which Kurowski is Game Lead

For creatives (which includes engineers) look outside of games for inspiration. We live in an amazing world. Bring something different to the table.

Finally, if you want to be a developer, make games. The tech is freely available, the distribution platforms are there. Nothing says it better than a great personal portfolio.

PlayRaven 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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