We speak to Genera Games’ artistic director about working in mobile game design
Dámaso Benitez has been working at Genera for the past eight years, and in that time has witnessed the full scale of smartphone revolution. From the early days of text-message ringtones, to the first smartphones and apps, he’s been behind the scenes working in the artistic department – of which he is now the head. We speak to Dámaso about working at Genera Games, and what it takes to join the artistic department.
Tell me about your career at Genera Games.
I’ve been working here for seven or eight years, from when the company made content for WAP mobiles, which like that ‘send a message to this number to receive the ring tone’, which was more for the first mobiles that came out.
Then we started working more with smartphones, and from there we started to make applications for mobile, and then we started to direct ourselves more towards games. I’m not one of the first that came into the company, but I’ve been here for quite a while, and I’ve lived the whole course of mobile phones; from the simplest to smartphones, that now have more possibilities in terms of videogames and capabilities.
What does your job consist of?
My job involves coordinating all of the artistic departments at Genera, validating the projects like the ones we have for Disney, or for Gladiator Heroes, which are really important launches. There’s a lot of production involved, and several have taken many years to produce. My job consists of coordinating all the parts in order to mark out quality channels so that everything that Genera does comes out the in the best form possible.
What’s your education background?
I did a course in applications, programming and IT, and then I also did a Master of Design, but I don’t have any direct speciality in relation to fine arts and things like that.
What kind of education or training would someone need to work in the artistic department at Genera Games?
It’s interesting because out of the team that we have, the majority haven’t obtained any kind of overall training, being something so dependent on the visual and the artistic. It’s a talent – it’s something where some people know how to see what they have, and others don’t.
I think that above all, the most important thing is that once someone wants to start working in this kind of field, they need to have a good portfolio that shows their capabilities and from there they can start acquiring more knowledge, and have a team that can guide them surrounding them. It’s true that in videogame development you need to have certain technical knowledge in order to deliver the resources a the programming teams.
One really important quality that someone would need to work here is that they have to be comfortable working in a team, they have to know how to work in a team and get along well with other people, and have a fluid personal relationship with others. In my department it’s especially important, because we spend a lot of time together and we go through high-pressure periods. I think that if everyone fits in personally, then that’s the first base that someone needs to have.
Where do most people start when they begin working with Genera?
Most people we have working in the department began working with marketing resources. In this position they start a bit more with composition, and understanding a bit more about mobile resolutions, which is quite extensive, and then from there familiarising themselves with the material and gaining more experience to be able to take on more responsibility.
Run me through the typical process of a new game: from its initial conception to its design.
We start with the aesthetics, in which we figure out, for example, that we want the audience to be women over 40, or 14-year-old boys and so on. From there, we decide on the appropriate aesthetics and we normally do tests on Facebook. A campaign is made, where four different designs are uploaded and tried between different people within our profile, so that we can see which works best.
Genera Games puts a lot of effort into making a fun working environment for its employees. What are some of the things you do for fun at work?
We play a lot of games to discover new mechanics. One thing we do is, every Thursday when Apple release their recommended games in the App store, is play the new games. Friday afternoons are normally spent playing new games, to get ideas.
We also have a beer together from the office beer tap on Friday afternoons, and play the gaming console or table soccer throughout the week to help us relax.