Starting a gaming job during the COVID-19 pandemic: Kwalee’s new starters share their experiences

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been lucky to be able to continue working safely with relatively few interruptions, while so many in other industries have not. 

We have spent the last few months working from home, of course, but have been able to keep collaborating via online platforms and importantly, continue developing and releasing new games for millions of players who are regularly looking for games to play.

This has also allowed us to continue growing our team. At the time of writing, we have welcomed 10 new Kwalee team members (and counting) since beginning to work from home, and we’ve worked hard to help them integrate – be it by delivering office equipment to their doors, or simply cultivating an open and friendly digital workspace.

Despite this, we readily acknowledge that those joining us during this period will have not have experienced anything approaching what we had previously considered a ‘normal’ induction to life at Kwalee. 

So, what exactly has it been like to join a company in the midst of COVID-19 lockdown? And what about when your new employer is based in another country, or even another continent? Our new starters tell all! 

How would you describe your start to life at Kwalee under current circumstances?

Adam Hewitson, Marketing Artist & Animator: A personal whirlwind of moving up and down the country a few times, but the support Kwalee have offered while I transition has been amazing. 

The marketing team has been fantastic in integrating me and making me feel welcome.

Eduardo Nardi, Junior Games Server Programmer: I would say that in some ways, my start was easier compared to what it would have been normally, because I am working from home in Brazil in a familiar environment.

I’d been looking for a job in the games industry in Europe, so I was preparing for a big move, but obviously that hasn’t happened yet!

But at the same time, I am looking forward to meeting everybody in person and getting to know the office.

Jack Gough, Games Tester: I’d say the experience so far has been great overall. Strange given the lockdown but thanks to everyone I’m working with, I don’t feel out of place. 

The job has been really enjoyable and rewarding, and there’s a strong sense of community and teamwork even though I haven’t met most of the people I’m working with. It always feels like people want to help and commit to making the best games possible. 

Working from home started off a bit shaky, due to the lockdown causing some postal problems, however the team made it so easy to get me up and running. It really feels like a big community and I’m looking forward to being able to meet everyone in the office!

James Leight, Financial Analyst: I think it’s a very strange start, but a comfortable one. Being able to do my job in the comfort of my own home is somewhat relieving, but having to meet people only through video calls is ever so slightly impersonal.

The whole idea of starting a new job in an office now looks to be a very 20th Century situation and to me companies like Kwalee show how it’s really done. 

James Leight

Once you get used to everything, though, it feels better. The whole idea of starting a new job in an office now looks to be a very 20th Century situation and to me companies like Kwalee show how it’s really done. 

Javier Pastor Serrano, Junior Game Programmer: My first days at Kwalee have been pretty good. The team has given me a warm welcome, and I have felt integrated since the very first day even though we are all in our homes and I am still in Spain!

It is probably not quite the same as being in the office with everyone, but companies and people need to adapt to the difficult circumstances we are experiencing right now and it seems to me that the entire Kwalee team has achieved it.

Hopefully, I will meet everybody in person very soon. But, for now, I’m safe at home and happy working with the team. 

Mike Hoppitt, Talent Acquisition Executive: Despite the circumstances, joining Kwalee while on lockdown has been a great experience – I was naturally apprehensive but I’ve had a fantastic amount of support, communication and welcome from the company. 

I’ve been offered everything I need to get set up from home including desk, chair, accessories and anything else necessary. Thanks to technology I still feel really part of the team and the company as we can all video call, chat and work together despite not being in the office. 

I’m looking forward to getting into the office to be with people face to face but already feel a really good connection. 

Lucy Pinker, Junior Digital Marketing Executive: I would describe my start at the company as a fantastic experience despite the circumstances. Everyone at Kwalee has been especially welcoming to me, making sure that I have all the help I need.

Georgie Venman, Publishing Executive: Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly! I’m not a stranger to remote working, but it was peculiar to join the Kwalee community without meeting everyone in person.

The culture is really social, and it’s great that we have managed to retain that in the current climate. I don’t feel distant at all.

What has the experience taught you about yourself, Kwalee and the games industry?

Adam Hewitson, Marketing Artist & Animator: That I can be far more productive at home than I first thought. Also some self-restraint in my coffee consumption! 

I enjoy being able to get an in-depth look at the data behind what we do. It’s interesting to get that insight and figuring out how to utilise it to improve my ads is really rewarding.

Gavin Tate, Financial Executive: The whole experience has made me appreciate Kwalee as a company more than previously. Still being offered the opportunity to start the new position and having the option for all of my equipment to be sent directly to my home was above and beyond anything I expected from a new employer. 

I was worried my job offer was going to be delayed due to the severity of the pandemic, however I am glad to be here already working for Kwalee.

Being offered the opportunity to start the new position and having the option for all of my equipment to be sent directly to my home was above and beyond anything I expected from a new employer. 

Gavin Tate

In terms of personal lessons, I feel that while I thought I knew who I was in an office and working environment, I am far more of a people person than I would have led myself to believe.

Jack Gough, Games Tester: I’d say it’s already helped me grow as a person massively. This is my first job in the industry so most things are a new experience, and people are always open to questions. 

It’s boosted my confidence to be working with people with the same interests and passions. One thing that really surprised me was the speed with which everyone responds to a challenge. 

It’s great to be in a workspace with people who are proactive, and seeing things move quickly has helped me to get a lot of perspective on how Kwalee (and the industry as a whole) operates.

James Leight, Financial Analyst: That the future probably will involve people working remotely more and more because it’s 100% possible! I’m quite surprised that the gaming industry in general hasn’t gone that way over the past decade, but I’d certainly expect to see more of it from now on.

Javier Pastor Serrano, Junior Game Programmer: The games industry is one of those jobs that you can do wherever you like. With a PC and a good internet connection, you can do the majority of parts that a game needs! 

That’s why COVID-19 hasn’t affected companies like Kwalee as much, which we’re very grateful for. 

Image of Kwalee team member Adam Hewitson in his home office space
Adam Hewitson in his home office space

After the battle against coronavirus is won, I’m sure a lot of companies will start to offer full-time remote work or maybe give people the possibility to work at home a couple of days a week. 

For example, we are starting to hire people for this first option, which can only mean that the experience has had some significant positives. I’m sure that remote work is and will be the future! 

Mike Hoppitt, Talent Acquisition Executive: The experience has shown me how adaptable you can be to changing circumstances and not let them get in the way of working toward your goals. 

Remote working has been so successful for Kwalee as they already had an amazing, collaborative and supportive culture that meant despite distance, people were still able to keep the ‘family’ feel, keep doing great things and making great games. 

The games industry is still going strong and the wheels are very much still turning – the people working in it have really shown how adaptable they are and how much they can embrace and overcome new challenges such as this.

Lucy Pinker, Junior Digital Marketing Executive: It’s taught me just how special the gaming industry really is, with everyone pulling together to work together and help each other out despite the circumstances.

I look forward to my future with the team, and can’t wait to meet them for real one day – hopefully in the not-too-distant future!

Kieran Townley, Junior Game Programmer: I think the main thing the experience has taught me is just how important technology has become for communication. Without tools like Slack it definitely would have been a lot harder to start work remotely as it would’ve taken a lot longer to receive help or support.

What stands out to me is how quickly Kwalee and other games companies have been able to adapt to the ‘new normal’ to enable them to continue working as they would have before the lockdown. Given the industry has never really experienced anything quite like this, it seems to have only taken a few weeks for us to adapt and continue to function like we would in an office.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got a strong games industry background, as long as you’re willing to learn, work hard and get stuck in!

Georgie Venman

Georgie Venman, Publishing Executive: Even from outside the office, I’ve learned so much already about the hyper-casual space! It’s a fun, colourful world full of fun, colourful people, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.

On that note, I’ve also learned that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got a strong games industry background (like me), as long as you’re willing to learn, work hard and get stuck in!

If you want to learn more about how you too could join the Kwalee family, you can learn more about what we offer and see our various open positions here.