The games industry plays host to a colourful cast of 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 – especially in these complex times we are all living through at the minute.
To highlight some of the brilliant work that goes on behind the scenes as well as how employees around the world are adapting to the life of remote work, PocketGamer.biz is reaching out to the individuals who make up the games industry in our Jobs in Games: Remote Working series.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?
Tobi Fink: I'm the senior product marketing manager for the CSR Racing franchise. In my job, I'm responsible for top-level marketing and communication strategies for the franchise. My main task is to manage the brand itself, ensuring we have a consistent stream of creative marketing activities that help us attract new audiences to the game as well as engage with our existing community.
Unfortunately, courses specifically for marketing in games are almost non-existent, making the entry to the industry through an academic route difficult.Tobi Fink
This can range from roadmap planning with product to sourcing potential technical innovations such as incentivised deep linking from ads to live trailer productions, like the ones you may have seen for our partnerships with Bugatti or Pagani. For this, I interact both with the product team as part of their leadership group and marketing advisor, but also lead the marketing pod of CSR.
How did you first get into games and how did you progress into this role?
After school, I started working in the music industry and explored different marketing positions in the entertainment industry. I settled on gaming in the end, as the industry combines creativity with analytical insights the most.
The industry is relatively young - especially on mobile - leading to a very dynamic market environment. I was lucky enough to start working in mobile games as a product marketing manager when the market was starting to grow. During these years, and with growing experiences in different genres, I organically progressed in my role to the position I’m in today.
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 Communications and Commercial Psychology. Both studies gave me frameworks that shaped my business sense and analytical approach, but anyone who is interested in a career in marketing should focus on exploring positions via internships and trainee programmes.
These will help to build up a broad, general knowledge, which will help to form connections between different marketing instruments. Unfortunately, courses specifically for marketing in games are almost non-existent, making the entry to the industry through an academic route difficult.
Do you think there are any misconceptions, public or professional, surrounding your area of expertise?
Sure, as with any other profession. This ranges from 'Mad-Men-type' expectations of the team to people thinking marketing is easy and anyone can do it. Marketing covers so many areas such as strategy, community management and data engineering, and there is no right concept of what a marketer should be.
The only thing I would expect from everyone working in games marketing is maintaining a curiosity to try to understand their current and future players.
What advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?
I would encourage any starter to not be shy and reach out to people in the industry to connect. I'm much more inclined to reply to a starter reaching out for help on my LinkedIn than replying to a sales offer. Try to learn from people who are in the position you aspire to have in 10 years – ask them how they progressed specifically in their role and what skill sets they would recommend you to build.
Have the ambition that a conversation like this might develop into a mentorship, which could have the utmost value in your career. And always stay curious – try to find one marketing campaign each week that inspires you, independent of it is a new ad format, an exciting creative or outstanding communication with a following. All of this will help to shape a creative and analytical mindset.
How has the shift from office to remote working impacted your role, if at all?
Product marketing is a very social role as it is the strategic connection between the development team and the individual marketing channels. In the office, it is easier to gather information and bring the right people together to discuss opportunities and issues. This can be tricky remotely, but we've been able to adapt by scheduling a lot more video calls these days.
While video conference quiz nights and other similar activities are fun, office interaction is different.Tobi Fink
Some marketing plans had to be evolved as certain activities were simply not actionable anymore with travel bans and lockdowns being in place. These are challenges which we can and have to, creatively overcome though as we’ve shown with the #PlayApartTogether campaign. As a studio, we’re responsible for our community and how we can become closer digitally these days.
What does your typical day look like when working remotely?
Structure is the key for me to have a productive day. Mornings are about taking time for myself – yoga, healthy breakfast and journaling gets me in the right mindset to focus on my work. Before lunch, I normally focus on bigger tasks and afternoons are more about connecting with other people and sharing information. I take time for proper lunch breaks and cook fresh to really be offline and unwind.
What do you think are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of remote working?
I can’t stress enough how awesome it is to work in your pyjamas! But on a serious note, working remotely gives us all more time to focus on projects with fewer interruptions. In the first weeks of Covid-19 we continued to experience strong productivity while working remotely. This doesn’t come without a price though and I doubt we will see the big “Work from Home” revolution afterwards.
We have less social interaction and over time it will be harder to keep team spirits up. While video conference quiz nights and other similar activities are fun, office interaction is different. Also, overcommunication is needed now to keep people up to speed. All of this can be hard to navigate correctly at first but the team has been keeping up the good communication.
Is there anything you wish you had known before moving to remote working?
Nope. I felt quite prepared going into this and the transition was handled very smoothly. No one can foresee how long the situation will last and we have been open about this with each other.
Do you have any advice for others who are struggling to adjust to remote work?
Some of my favourites at the moment:
- Establish clear working hours for yourself and stick to them
- Have regular breaks where you take your mind off work
- Schedule your tasks into your day depending on your focus
- Find podcasts and websites that inspire you daily
Outside of that: community is kindness. Both as leaders, but also as colleagues, we have to look out for each other now more than ever. Find replacements for what would be the coffee chat in the office.
Even though you might not need it right now, you might help someone else overcoming a down phase. Also, establish platforms to come together as a team and don’t talk about work for a minute – you would do that in the office too and it’s good for everyone’s morale.
After the pandemic ends and if you were given the choice, would you prefer to continue working remotely or go back to working in an office?
I miss interacting with my team in person, so I'm craving to be back in the office. I will probably continue to have the odd working from home to focus on bigger projects, but overall, I'm happy to have my home as a work-free environment in which I just unwind.
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