In the space of ten years Paulina Bozek has built a reputation as a leading figure in the game industry, receiving numerous accolades including the first ever BAFTA Interactive New Talent Award.
In 2003 she was a central figure in the creation of the highly successful SingStar series, acting as producer at Sony’s London Studio for just over five years. She left Sony to join Atari in 2008, and has recently finished her latest project, Photo Sauce – a Facebook app that lets users mess around with their own and their friends’ photos using stickers and personalised speech bubbles.
What are you working on right now, and what stage is the project at?
We recently launched a Facebook application called Atari Photo Sauce in October, it’s a social creative app that lets you decorate photos with funny stickers, accessories and speech bubbles and ‘Photo Sauce’ your friends.
Which aspect of it do you think will impress players the most?
It’s very easy to make fun of your friends – in a nice way.
What does your desk/window view look like?
Here’s a photo of the view out of my window – an Atari ‘office meeting’ in the summer!
What was your first job in the industry – and what was the first game you worked on?
My very first job was in the Public Relations dept at Ubi Soft. I spent the first six months working with one of the absolute best PR people in the industry, Tammy Schachter who now heads up Worldwide Games PR for Electronic Arts.
After six months I moved into development and the newly formed online division called Gameloft (then a subsidiary of Ubi Soft.) The first game I worked on was an online version of Gary Kasparov Chess – I learned about online and it improved my chess game!
What was the first video game you ever played?
It was some kind of Lobster typing tutor where you had to type really fast to escape a Lobster that chased and tried to eat you. It was the only game pre-loaded on my mom’s work computer. I must have had a real appetite for games as I could play Lobster for hours at a time. Soon after my brother and I got a Nintendo and spent a lot of time saving the princess.
What was the last game you played? Did you enjoy it?
Farmville on Facebook – I enjoyed it for the first couple months but am currently a bit behind – I haven’t harvested in weeks and there is so much farm work to do…It now feels a bit like Spring Closet Cleaning – I keep putting it off …
How many hours a week do you get to spend playing games?
I spend time on Facebook every day checking out new games and applications. Often when new people join our team they are amazed that they are supposed to be on Facebook as part of the job! On the weekend, I check out new console games. I probably spend about four hours a week playing games.
What area of the industry needs more investment?
The following new areas interest me and I would invest in: more hybrid entertainment products music/fashion/tv show meets game – possibly on web TV in the next few years, truly engaging educational games, social games for the older ‘grey gamer’ – I think the desire to connect is timeless and universal.
What disappoints you about the industry?
The segmentation of the console audience according to hardware platform. I understand it’s a reality but at the end of the day it’s about entertainment and the experience, regardless of what platform that’s on.
What do you enjoy most about working in the video game industry?
The fact that it’s constantly re-defining itself. I am very passionate about entertainment and media and when you add technology and interactivity – that makes things very interesting!
Of all the games you have been involved with in the past, what has been your favourite, and why?
SingStar!! It was full of interesting challenges: building a new mass market franchise, tapping into popular culture through the appeal of music, extensive localization in emerging markets, the transition to digital distribution with the SingStore and introducing user-generated content with My SingStar Online. And of course, learning the lyrics to all my favorite songs…
What do you do in your spare time that isn’t related to video games?
Surf the internet, socialize, drink wine, go to art galleries, running.
What’s your favourite book, movie or TV show, and album of all time?
The books I read when I was sixteen will always be my favorites: On the Road – Jack Kerouac, Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger. I hardly watch TV anymore; I only watch one program semi-regularly, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Too many albums to single out a favorite!
What game would you have liked to work on the most?
LittleBigPlanet – fantastically innovative, charming and popular – love it.
Which other games developers and studios do you admire?
Media Molecule, Playfish, Stardoll.com, Harmonix.