Jamie Wotton on lockdowns and Lemmings
In the latest installment in our series of blogs giving insight into how we work behind the scenes, we asked our Creative Marketing Manager to talk through his role, the projects he’s working on, and what it’s been like to join the company during a pandemic…
Tell us a little a bit about your role and day-to-day responsibilities
I run creative development and marketing within the newly-formed Publishing Team at Exient, which is led by our Chief Publishing Officer, Julian Jones.
Publishing, and specifically, marketing is being introduced as a way to craft our own future for the company – leaving the talented game design teams to focus fully on making the best possible game, with no concerns or worries about the marketing presentation. Within this set up, the publishing department serves as the liaison between the marketing and design teams.
As a relatively new starter, how did you find the job-hunting process during lockdown?
With so much uncertainty in the world, looking for a job was initially the last thing on my mind back in March when the coronavirus lockdowns began. What the following months showed me is that the pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, so if I was interested in evolving my career with new challenges and opportunities, I had to get on with it!
The more I heard about the position at Exient, the more excited I became by the opportunity to help craft creative direction in the marketing and publishing efforts within the company. It’s a been a fantastic experience in unique circumstances.
Tell us a bit about the onboarding process at Exient
Before I started, the IT manager set me up with all the devices I needed, so I was ready to begin on day one.
With two studios across two countries and time zones, being remote has actually worked to my benefit as a new starter. The set-up really benefits Exient, which has offices in both Malta and the UK – we’re fully integrated with Google Workspace, which means there’s plenty of face-to-face interaction. If you need to speak to someone, it’s as simple as finding a slot in their calendar or giving them a call via Slack.
The team has been fantastic with knowledge sharing, too. It literally couldn’t be any easier to get up to speed.
Also, personally, I don’t know any different, so there’s nothing to compare to. That’s been incredibly useful for me, and it will also be of great benefit to people joining Exient going forward.
And how have you become acquainted with your new colleagues while working remotely?
It’s been easier than I could have possibly imagined – there’s a collective focus on mental health and everyone getting through this together.
Exient has implemented a number of opportunities for safe, socially distanced informal meetings, such as a ‘Lunch on Us’ scheme, where you are able to meet with co-workers for an extended two-hour lunch break, paid for by the company. This means I’ve been fortunate enough to meet up with some of the UK team in person.
On top of that, we’re also running entirely online games, such as Pub Quizzes and Pictionary, to help increase community and team building across the offices.
Tell us a bit about the projects you’re working on
Right now, I’m working on overseeing and building out a diversified strategy across Mobile Ads, Creative Strategy, App Store Optimisation (ASO), Social Design, Community Management, Support and more.
This also involves working closely with our QA teams on global strategy for UA methodology, building up our community management resource, working closely with media and influencers on game reviews, and hopefully leaving some room for a bit of blue sky thinking too!
With the work we’re doing across departments, there’s an opportunity to lay down the marketing framework for the entire company for years to come.
How does that setup apply to a game like Lemmings?
Lemmings is coming up to its second anniversary on the mobile app stores, so we’re now really focused on long-term support for that game. It’s an old-school title and quite different to many of the games dominating the mobile market right now, which is great.
My CV encompasses both indie studio environments and the hyper-casual market, so at Exient I’m able to unify my experience of working on big IPs with the fast-moving and reactive mobile games segment.
When it comes to marketing Lemmings, that means thinking about relaying things like clarity, colours and storytelling in the context of a 2-3 second advertisement. We’ve also worked hard recently to introduce a lot more creative output to support Lemmings across the different promotional opportunities that we know exist out there.
We do that by looking closely at both what’s going on in the wider market, and at our games and our players, then making sure we’re current and ‘on trend’ at all times. That means constantly tweaking at iterating how we deploy our marketing and advertising activities.
Tell us about how you’re looking to harness social media and community at Exient
The Community Manager is a key role for a game like Lemmings and we’re trying to integrate social media more overtly.
Previously, our focus was fully on the game design brief without too much consideration for the wider game community. That meant for Lemmings the social links were originally 7 or 8 clicks deep into the game menus.
But by building out our community management team we can really start to push those aspects, even to the point of working with evangelists and opening up discussions with our player base.
We’ve simply never had the time to do that before, so we’re now in a position where we can gauge community sentiment, feed that back into our creative and development teams and then create new content and more discussion.
Do you have any tips for remote working productivity?
This is one of the biggest questions – both from a professional and personal standpoint. Let’s face it, we’re all going through a difficult moment in our lives, which impacts us in many ways.
I’ve found that being flexible and honest with myself and my time is key. Communicate your workload and goals to colleagues. Make sure you deliver the best work you can, always.
Exient’s management have worked hard to ensure people don’t get stressed in the moment and just focus on the quality of their work – we’re supported completely in that respect.
Working publicly, using our internal documentation systems, such as Confluence and sharing with the team using the Google Workspaces, is also a great way of helping everyone stay on top of the projects in hand.
What advice would you give others looking to switch roles in the current climate?
I joined Exient during lockdown and now I’m in the process of hiring for my team too. So I’ve experienced the games recruitment market from both sides, in extreme circumstances, within a short period of time!
I would encourage people to be aware of the new challenges out there as a result of coronavirus, but not to be afraid of them. Every company has handled the pandemic and remote working differently, so make sure you are comfortable with any COVID-safe processes and potential office opening plans before making a decision.
If you want to level up your career and contribute positively during an exciting time for the games industry, albeit during difficult global circumstances, there is no better time than now.