David Perry Comments: Tricia Gray has very kindly agreed to give us a perspective from PR and Marketing. (The first interview we have done in this area.) It’s important to remember that as our industry grows, we will continue to have more and more possible positions someone can be hired for, and we will do our best here at DPERRY.COM to get the people actually doing the job to tell you all about it.
Please dispel the myths: what do you do at work every day?
My job here at Flagship Studios is pretty unique. I am in charge of all the marketing and public relations for the company and our game, Hellgate: London.
This is unique because I work for the developer, and normally, this kind of position only exists at publishers. We have two publishers: Hanbitsoft who covers all of Asia sans Japan, and Namco, who covers the Americas, Europe and Japan. I make sure coordination happens between the two companies with all the assets that FSS puts out and that everyone is on the same page. I make sure we get to our press tours, conventions, and TV interviews. I create marketing materials and approve the marketing (ads, ad placements) for the company.
I also deal with the marketing and PR with our ancillary partners like Weta, Darkhorse, Nvidia, Tokyo Pop, etc. So everyday I come in, drink some tea and coordinate, pitch, and approve all things PR and marketing. I work with Mika Kelly and Chris Clark (who are the best) over at Namco.
At Hanbitsoft, Derek Oh and Charlie Shinn (who both rock and work very hard). I mention them cause they help out with the PR and marketing of the game and I communicate with the daily. They are stars.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I was a tester for Sega of America. I tested games on the Pico, Genesis, and Saturn.
What skills did you have that made this sort of work possible for you?
A love for videogames, knowledge of technology, and personality to deal with a lot of different people and different situations.
Talk about the less-glamorous work you did before jumping into games. Did any of that experience help you at all?
Well I managed a virtual reality arcade which was good, cause it taught me how to take care of employees and budgeting. Working at a pizza joint taught me how to work well with a team.
Did your education help you get where you are? Or should people hoping to be in your shoes simply drop out, and get to work?
I will always tell people if they have the opportunity to go to school, do so and do it well. But my education didn’t help me at all. I do not have a college degree. I worked really hard to get where I am. If school is not an option and you are bright, confident, or know the right people you can get a job in the industry.
A lot of people hate to admit this, but you are better off making contacts and establishing relationships to get your foot in the door. I had worked a public access TV show about videogames, and the producers cast me when they met me managing the virtual reality arcade. One of the hosts worked at Sega, and that’s how I got my job. At Sega someone knew someone at Sony, and passed along my resume, and I got my next job. I got my gig at Eidos because I found out where they were located and just showed up with my resume. I didn’t know anyone but it was one of those right place at the right time situations.
Someone who knew me recommended me at Rockstarâ??my friend Mike Wilson, who I had worked with while at Eidos, and also recommended me to write for Computer Games magazine. In my situation, I was lucky to know someone. I worked hard and people will noticed my potential and drive. I really believe that you don’t need a college/graduate education in the games industry. A lot of people that work at Flagship don’t have degrees – they are just very talented artists and programmers that knew what they wanted to do with their lives and focused on making an amazing portfolio or learning more about coding.
In 2007, what do you think the salary range will be for someone in your role? From a junior position, all the way up to an Executive Director level?
A junior person in PR or marketing (i.e., a person that has never done PR or marketing before) should be starting at $30k at least if they are working in San Francisco. Executive directors should be getting well over $100k, but again that depends on their workload, reputation, and what they bring to the table…
Some game developers laugh when they hear the word “Royalties” — are royalties real? Should I take it seriously if I’m offered some as a part of my employment package?”
Working at the publishing end, for most of my career I never saw royalties – but now that I’m working in development, I hear that word all the time. I don’t know about other companies, but Blizzard (where most of the guys here worked at before) certainly took care of their employees and gave out royalties. Flagship will do the same. The owners here believe in rewarding their employees’ hard work and talent. I guess you should take it seriously and always do your best, but if you are working on a crap game or a game that hasn’t had good marketing behind it (in other words, won’t sell enough to profit), you shouldn’t hold your breath.
How competitive is the market for the sort of work you do?
It’s pretty competitive, I suppose. Landing a position like I have at Flagship, I think, is the best kind of PR and marketing position you can get. Working on a “triple-A title” (I personally hate that term, which is why it is in quotes, so please imagine me doing those fantastic air quotes with my fingers) gets you a lot of leverage on coverage and on marketing deals. It’s pretty amazing. On top of that, I work specifically for the development team which is rewarding. There are very few positions like this in the industry.
Within your current role, are there opportunities to transition to other areas of game development, should your interests take you there?
The wonderful thing about working at Flagship is that if you have talent in other areas, the guys are keen to use your expertise. If I was an ingenious programmer guised as the PR/marketing director and I felt like I wanted to code instead, I am sure they guys here would be very supportive.
Fast-forward 10 years: where are you, and what are you doing career-wise?
If I am not working here at Flagship in 10 years, I would probably open my bakery/tea house, or I would volunteer and travel to do charity work.
What advice would you give to people interested in doing what you do?
If you really want to do marketing or PR, please do not fake the funk. Do research in all areas of pop culture, from music, fashion, and especially games. Know your shit and believe in your shit, but most importantly be humble. There are too many jerk-faces out there! Don’t be one of them! Be open to deal with different people, and no matter what don’t take anything personally. Be a duck and let the water slide off your back.
Oh yeah, learn to write and communicate well. When you do have a team to manage, teach your peeps real skills, take good care of them, and give them good direction to work in. Exercise your body and mind (trust me on this one) and most importantly life is not all about you, it’s about the things you do to effect the world around you.
Note: This series of interviews was conducted by one of our dperry.com contributors – Evan Shamoon.