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?
Jasmin Hernandez: I am the associate production manager at Sega for the animation team. I have worked on a few animated projects at Sega, from the Sonic Boom television series to the animated shorts we produced for our social channels.
Currently, on Sonic Boom I work with our home media partner NCircle on releasing DVDs for the series. For the shorts, I managed Sonic Mania Adventures, Team Sonic Racing: Overdrive, and Chao in Space.
I've always loved watching cartoons and playing video games but never once did it cross my mind that it was possible to make a career out of itJasmin Hernandez
So, what does that mean? Well, all of the pre-production for these projects was done by director Tyson Hesse and a small talented team. I worked directly with Tyson to: provide support, update the producer on the project status, schedule pitch meetings, process paperwork and payments, obtain the necessary approvals from the Sonic Team, schedule weekly production meetings, and assist with hiring an animation studio.
After the pre-production process, we get into production, which is where I hand off all of the approved assets we created in the pre-production phase to Neko Productions - the animation studio we hired for our first two projects. During production, I follow a similar process as in pre-production, only now with the animation studio in the mix.
How did you first get into games and how did you progress into this role?
Like most people, I was introduced to games and animation as a kid. If I had the ability to tell my younger self that I would be working for Sega and making Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons, I don't think I would have believed it. Working in animation - let alone working in the games industry - is not something I thought of as a career option.
I've always loved watching cartoons and playing video games, but never once did it cross my mind that it was possible to make a career out of it. It wasn't until I was in college that working in these industries even seemed like an option.
I had two internships while studying, one at Bang Zoom Entertainment as a production assistant/video editor assistant and the other at DreamWorks Animation as a videographer for the digital training department.
Both taught me that there are a variety of jobs in these two industries. Even with those internships under my belt, it took me a year to land a paying job in animation as a production assistant. Since then I have learned a lot and grew with each project, which led me to where I am now.
What did you study (if anything) to get your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?
My degree is in radio, TV and film. I would recommend applying to internships if you are able to – the university I attended made it a requirement to graduate. Being able to get some hands-on experience is invaluable. It'll help you build your network and you get to experience how much work goes into a project.
It takes many people working together to bring a project to life, with so many roles needed. I would also encourage students to explore classes outside of their core curriculum that will not only help to meet the requirements to graduate but also that they take a major interest in. I found that these classes help to refine a lot of applicable skills that you can then carry over into your career.
Do you think there are any misconceptions, public or professional, surrounding your area of expertise?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about animation is that the only job available is to be an artist. Animation requires many talented people who have different skillsets to complete a project. There are many different roles in animation and games needed to complete projects of this scale, with production management playing an important role in keeping production running as smoothly as possible.
What advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?
The importance of finding support, mentors, and networking. During my career, I've met wonderful people who took the time to mentor me and who helped push me forward in the industry.
I would recommend seeking out organisations, networks and societies to help you on your career path. Here are a few to check out: ASIFA Hollywood, Women in Animation, Black N' Animated, Rise up Animation, and LatinX in Animation.
I would recommend seeking out organisations, networks and societies to help you on your career pathJasmin Hernandez
Always be prepared and be ready, as you don't know when an opportunity will be available. I would also encourage people to put their work on social platforms - especially for artists.
How has the shift from office to remote working impacted your role, if at all?
Luckily, it hasn't impacted my role very much. It's mostly been an adjustment to rely more on our internal communication and collaboration platforms to communicate with my co-workers.
What does your typical day look like when working remotely?
Before preparing to work, I do my best to exercise. I live in a small studio unit, so I'm not getting my usual steps throughout the day that I normally would have gotten working in the office. I find that exercising helps to keep me focused and I don't feel like I'm just sitting most of the day. I start my workday by checking emails, completing any tasks for the day, and attending any meetings that are scheduled.
I also participate in the bi-weekly Sonic livestreams on YouTube and Twitch, which are now done remotely. I have a segment on the streams where I teach our fans a Spanish word. The livestream allows me to be a little more creative and use my crafting skills to make dolls that are recurring "guests" and other artwork.
What do you think are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of remote working?
The biggest advantage is having more time to myself in the morning. I don't have to worry too much about getting ready for the day and I don't have to factor in travel time to the office.
A disadvantage is maintaining a work-life balance. If I get a late request, I tend to work on it, even if it's outside our normal working hours because it's so easy to just keep working. I also miss the unexpected in-person collaboration with my co-workers.
Is there anything you wish you had known before moving to remote working?
The end date for remote working. It's looking like it might take some time until we are back in the office and it's safer to work from home, but I do miss seeing my co-workers in-person on a regular basis.
Do you have any advice for others who are struggling to adjust to remote work?
Be kind to yourself. We are living through a pandemic. In addition to that, there is a lot going on in the world, so if you feel like your emotional tank is empty, don't be afraid to reach out to someone. It's important to support each other.
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 would like to see a hybrid option where I can work some days remotely, however I do think it's important to have in-person communication. It also helps to build great connections with your co-workers.