Interview

Jobs in Games: Futureplay's Chris Wilson on going from food apps to marketing manager

Jobs in Games: Futureplay's Chris Wilson on going from food apps to marketing manager

The games industry plays host to an excellent cast of colourful and diverse individuals, from artists and coders to narrative designers and studio heads.

The skills to pull off these roles, however, are complex and differing. With each position requiring mastery in its field. As such, seeing a game come together is a beautiful thing akin to a puzzle as an overall picture becomes whole.

To highlight some of the brilliant work that goes on behind the screen, and help others who may be keen to dive in, PocketGamer.biz has decided to reach out to the individuals who make up the games industry with our Jobs in Games series.

This time we spoke with Futureplay Games marketing manager Chris Wilson.

PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?

Chris Wilson: I take care of our marketing. We’re a small, flat organisation so this means I can get involved in lots of different areas on both a game and company-level, as well as getting my hands dirty with the execution side and planning.

On a day-to-basis, I can be doing anything from working with influencers, producing video campaigns for UA and social with third parties, working with our internal teams to produce content around new game features, or creating and editing video content myself in our new video recording studio.

We’re a small, flat organisation so this means I can get involved in lots of different areas on both a game and company-level.
Chris Wilson

We’re quite data-driven so I spend a lot of time on app store optimisation, but we like to mix that up with our fair share of brand campaigns, too. For example, over the past couple of months I’ve been working with a puppet maker to build a puppet for our game, Idle Farming Empire.

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

Prior to working at Futureplay, I co-founded and ran my own app-based food sustainability start-up Too Good To Go. Dedicated to reducing food waste, Too Good To Go makes restaurant food that would otherwise be thrown away available to consumers at the end of service for a fraction of its usual cost.

Though food tech and gaming are very different industries on the face of it, there are many similarities in the foundations of app marketing. Both roles are about trying to put what we’re doing in front of as many people as possible and working on both the brand and performance side to make that happen.

That said, mobile gaming is a more mature industry (even though it’s still very nascent) so it’s on us to work harder and faster to find neater and niftier tricks that make us stand out in an increasingly competitive market.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

For sure. I’ve been playing games for as long as I can remember with my first fond memories harking back to Three Lions on the PlayStation One. I’m more of a casual gamer but it’s great to be in a role where I can stay up-to-date with the market, as well as affect what’s happening within it.

Chris Wilson's role is different every day, with his latest task seeing him working with a puppet maker to create a puppet for Idle Farming Empire

In particular the mobile games scene in Finland is super exciting. It’s a hotbed of talent from literally all over the world - especially here at Futureplay. When I had my first taste of how life could look here back in the early interview stages, I couldn’t imagine myself working anywhere else.

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

Traditionally being in marketing requires a different, perhaps less technical skillset than working in say design, code or art. I completed a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish as well as a master’s in International Business from Leeds University.

But increasingly - and especially in mobile games - marketing is so closely related to data and analytics that degrees in more technical fields such as engineering, computer science and math are definitely relevant too.

What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?

Each game requires a different approach, different activities and a different tone of voice, which leaves lots of room for creativity.
Chris Wilson

As the role covers so many different areas it’s hard to pinpoint one particular area. What I enjoy most is having the flexibility to work on different projects, both for our games and for Futureplay as a company.

Each game requires a different approach, different activities and a different tone of voice, which leaves lots of room for creativity. Having the freedom to make decisions that can shape the direction of how our games are marketed is pretty rewarding, too.

Also, Futureplay as a company places a massive focus on self-development and acquiring new skills, whether for personal interest or for the benefit of the company. For example, every Friday afternoon we spend a few hours on Futureplaygrounds - time dedicated to learning quite literally whatever you want to learn. It’s a really fresh approach to looking after people and something I think everyone here finds fulfilling.

Do you think there are any misconceptions, public or professional, surrounding your area of expertise?

Tough question. I think perhaps there can be a preconception of marketeers talking the talk and not walking the walk.

Obviously, the role requires a bit of bravado (at the end of the day, you’re doing what you can to sell something) but that shouldn’t be a reason to shy away from doing the work involved to make that happen. The bite always has to be bigger than the bark!

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

Coming into the industry from a different field, there’s definitely a learning process to undertake in order to get to grips with ins-and-outs of the market - particularly when working in a flat organisation like ours with no rigid corporate structures.

Working in marketing also requires a grasp of the game development side as well as the business side and it takes time to get up to speed with how they complement one another. But picking that up as I’ve gone along has certainly been part of the fun.

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

There is a tonne of really useful networks that anyone looking to get into the industry should make the most of. Get down to your local IGDA (or similar) event, meet people who do what you want to do and don’t be afraid to ask them questions. We’re a friendly bunch and won’t bite.

Here in Finland, there are also great programmes that place trainees into gaming companies with a view to them earning a permanent contract, such as GamePro. Futureplay’s two most-recent hires have come off the back of GamePro, and one of our co-founders even started life in the games industry through it, too. Check out if there’s anything similar you can get involved in where you are.

Futureplay Games CEO and co-founder Jami Laes will be one of the speakers at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki, taking place from October 1st to 2nd. 

Staff Writer

Matthew Forde is a freelance writer from Yorkshire, who's work has been published for Tech Radar, Nintendo Life, Kotaku UK and more. He regularly attends Smash Bros. tournaments, while trying to keep up-to-date on everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes. You can find him on Twitter @Forde999.

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