Every month, we pick the brain of an up-and-coming talent. This month’s Rising Star is Samantha Webb, development manager at Riot UK, who tells us about her transition from tech to gaming
How did you break into games?
I was already working in tech doing the role I do now, and I started writing for games as a hobby. I ended up doing my MA in Game Design while working at the same time. I was following the studios that make my favourite games, and when I learnt Riot was looking to open a studio in London I found a few of their European talent people on LinkedIn, got in touch and was lucky enough that they were looking for a dev manager!
What is your proudest achievement so far?
Coming into the team and leading the Agile transformation was pretty cool – some of the team had never worked in an Agile way before, and they’ve been really receptive to the idea. I’ve been able to introduce a sustainable way of working for the team that allows us to juggle our numerous priorities and deliver on them as well as giving us enough flexibility to be able to work on emergency work as and when it comes through – all while being able to finish at 6pm and switch off emails for the evening every night!
What’s been your biggest challenge to date?
The transition from tech to gaming was a big one actually. In many respects I think tech as an industry is like the older sibling, it’s been there and done that and has a tried and tested approach to many things; whereas the games industry is like the excitable youngster that is only just starting university and learning responsibility and accountability.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
My team is absolutely awesome, and as a dev manager you can’t ask for anything more than a great team! I’ve seen them take ideas that should have been impossible and run with them to produce great campaigns. There’s also such a great variety of work to take on in a small office like ours: alongside my day job I grew our social media presence in the early days, launched and now run regular fan fiction contests for the community, became the diversity and inclusion lead for the UK and also wrote some prototype stuff for our central R&D team. No day is ever quite the same!
What’s your big ambition in games?
I think for me it would be to co-found a studio. I love my job working with teams but I also love making games, especially the writing and narrative design, and have a lot of respect for small, indie studios telling great stories through games. Being able to do that myself with a talented team would be a dream!
What advice would you give to someone who worked in software development and is trying to get into games dev?
Firstly, recognising that your skills are transferable and desirable is a big step – I took a long time to move into the gaming industry because I wasn’t convinced my skills would be needed. Secondly, I’d advise making games in your spare time, and look for meetups and events near you – building a network and being able to prove you’re passionate about whatever it is you want to be in will be a big advantage.
If there’s a rising star at your company, contact Marie Dealessandri at firstname.lastname@example.org