How do junior professionals pave their path in the mobile game industry? We sat down with two participants of Metacore’s Press Play trainee program – Hy Bui and Aleksi Laine to find out.
An industry that supports creativity in the most surprising roles
"I finally discovered an industry that allowed me to do all the things I always wanted to do: from video creation and animation, to drawing and UI/UX design – all in my own vibrant and bubbly style."
For quite some time, Hy actually wasn’t particularly drawn to the game industry. Growing up with brothers who used to play dark and intense video games, she just couldn’t connect with the heavy visuals. Her colorful and lively artistic style simply didn’t seem to fit the common video game aesthetic.
That was until she found a connection with mobile games. The colors, characters and all the graphic elements spoke to her. Hy realized that there was space for her personal art style, in this specific part of the game industry. This is when her active search for a job began.
I finally discovered an industry that allowed me to do all the things I always wanted to do.
Sometimes it is not that straightforward
"To be honest, a career in the mobile game industry was not something I seriously considered before."
After a couple of years of searching for his calling while driving a taxi, Aleksi decided to apply to Metropolia UAS to study ICT. Programming has always been something he was curious about, but never gotten a chance to work with. Thanks to the studies and a narrowed down focus on the subject, he discovered a fascinating new world that slowly turned into the first step of his professional career.
To be honest, a career in the mobile game industry was not something I seriously considered before.
Press Play made it possible to enter the game industry, without needing to have years of experience
"From the very beginning, I was aware that it’s really challenging to find junior or trainee positions in this industry. More often than not, companies tend to look for senior professionals."
Hy was in an active five-month-long search for her next role and, luckily –both for her and Metacore – she stumbled upon a freshly-posted program called Press Play. Studying the website “corner-to-corner”, she realized how closely the Merge Mansion’s style felt to her own visual aesthetic. Excited and inspired, Hy pressed “apply” to the Press Play Program.
Aleksi felt a similar struggle in the search for his next role – limited opportunities for new talents in the game industry. Having only one more year of studies left, he decided it was time to take the first step towards his career goal. The opportunity of joining the Press Play Program presented itself via Metropolia’s job alerts section, and Aleksi made an obvious decision to apply.
Both Hy and Aleksi have been lucky enough to land trainee positions in a mobile game company, however many of their peers cannot say the same. At the moment, it is still difficult to get a foot in the door of the mobile game world. Metacore hopes that with the help of programs like Press Play this will slowly start changing.
Metacore hopes that with the help of programs like Press Play this will slowly start changing.
Expectations VS. Reality
"I didn’t really know what to expect. However, there was one thing I eagerly looked forward to – the opportunity to learn how a game company functions."
"Things just worked the way we were told they would. At times, it almost felt like it was too good to be true."
Within the first 6 weeks, both Hy and Aleksi took a deep dive into all things Metacore: from the day-to-day operations to the company culture and game building. Their calendars have been full of talks and workshops covering the industry specifics, personal tasks and bonding with the team members, as well as working on a prototype with mentors. This gave them a deeper understanding of the industry and what the next few months would look like.
Hy shared that the guidance of the mentors and the support of her team members have made a tremendous impact. Feeling appreciated for her work and healthy constructive feedback – all contributed to the overall psychological safety that is at the core of Metacore’s culture. And now, after the first six weeks both moved to a game team - Aleksi as a game programmer and Hy as a game artist.
Things just worked the way we were told they would. At times, it almost felt like it was too good to be true.
"One thing that has surprised me the most is the amount of freedom given to us in the Program. We are not tracked or watched over in any way. Working at a pace, space and time that we prefer."
Both Aleksi and Hy were surprised by the fact that Metacore’s culture and the actual day-to-day life noticeably aligned – and this is something they’ve noticed other employees value as well. One of Metacore’s key principles centers around trust and freedom, which allows for every single team member to make informed decisions and take ownership over the work they do.
One thing that has surprised me the most is the amount of freedom given to us in the Program.
So what’s next?
At the moment, both Aleksi and Hy are working in Metacore’s game teams, and so are the other Press Play trainees. Check back on this blog later to see how they’ve progressed.