This week’s interview features Tom Aherne, our Finance Manager.
What is your first gaming memory?
I received a Nintendo Entertainment System for my birthday back in 1993 and excitedly played Super Mario Bros. 2 for hours on end. The quirky soundtrack, dazzling colours and frantic dash to complete each level vividly stick in my mind. The gameplay was amazing and although the brick-like controllers weren’t super sensitive they certainly provided an excellent outlet for relieving frustration with a swift thud on the carpet. They just would not break! I daren’t try that with my iPhone!
What made you want to work in the video game industry?
The chance to work in an extremely creative and fun environment with so many talented individuals. Knowing that the end goal is creating fun for the user is a great incentive to be part of this sector. Also, the chance to work at a new-start company with a handful of industry veterans is a great kicker!
What did you study at university?
Geography and Economics at the University of Leeds. I didn’t have a set career path before going to University so I decided to study a joint honours degree that would be both useful and interesting. I specialised in Human Geography and tried to pick a range of Economics modules that tied the two disciplines together, such as Economomics of Development and Famines. I was lucky enough to be lectured by some outstanding academics that really helped to broaden my horizons. The whole University experience was also vital for developing a wide range of transferrable skills like problem solving and proactivity.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in the video games industry?
From the few months that I’ve been working in the industry, I’d say specialise as early as possible in a certain profession, such as programming or art. Devote as much spare time and effort to it as possible. Be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up. No task or job should be beneath you in order to get your foot in the door (or even once you’re in the door for that matter). Ensure you build as many contacts and relations in the industry as possible and of course, play lots of games!
What is your favourite video game and why?
I’d have to say it’s a tie between two games. Jonah Lomu Rugby on the original PlayStation provided hours and hours of entertainment with it’s brilliant gameplay and quirky commentary lines like these:
Oh! Mercy me! What a tackle! That could’ve put him in Ward 4.
I hope not Bill, that’s a maternity ward!
The shoulder buttons on the PlayStation controller worked brilliantly for quick passing amongst the backs and Team Lomu (fifteen Jona Lomu’s!) was always good for a laugh. My other favourite game is Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 on the PlayStation 2. I played that game for at least an hour a day for a solid year whilst living with a former housemate. A constant stream of jovial banter flowed whilst simultaneously playing and making up interesting names for players. Stellianne oBLAMovich reigned supreme!
What is your gaming pet peeve?
Neglect towards the quality of gameplay and an over-emphasis on in-game branding and sponsorship. A well-known and long running football series comes to mind! Although I’ve heard alot of reports that it’s finally got it’s act together and focused on the football. Anyhow, the names don’t matter, it’s the game that counts!
How did you come to work at Kwalee?
I was approached by David via a recommendation from his father, Jim. I’ve known the Darling family since I was a wee little lad and being offered the chance to work as Finance Manager alonside David and many other talented individuals was an unmissable opportunity.
What is your favourite thing about working at Kwalee?
The people. It’s vital to the success of any business to have a team of strong individuals that can work together to overcome problems and achieve great things. There’s so many creative, hard-working and intelligent individuals that I feel so lucky to be working here. The amount of knowledge and experience here is unbelievable. We have a common goal of making entertaining and successful games and we’re determined to get there. As an aside, there’s a few additional perks to the job including a company iPhone, social events (the paint-balling hurt!) and complementary bananas that make life a little easier.
How do you rate your chances in the office table tennis tournament?
Fair to good. Out of the previous four competitions I’ve reached the final three times and most recently finished with the (purely symbolic) trophy in my pocket. Whilst I’m pleased to have finally knocked David off the top spot I have no doubt he’ll be back next month with a burning ambition to reclaim his crown. True champions should never be underestimated. However, I’m going to study and practice hard and hopefully prove to the masses that I’m not just a one hit wonder. There’s also a few other up and coming contenders in the mix that are cable of doing some serious damage. The sweat bands are being donned and our game faces are on!