Interview: Lottie Bevan, producer and chief operating officer of video games start-up Weather Factory
DESCRIBE YOUR JOB…..
I’m producer and chief operating officer (COO) of a small video games start-up called Weather Factory. We specialise in narrative PC gaming, and are best known for a double BAFTA-nominated game called Cultist Simulator.
Because we’re so small, my job is very broad: I’m mostly responsible for managing my team’s workflow and their understanding of our game’s creative vision, but I’m also a manager, responsible for the financial running of the studio, and I do a bunch of our games’ art, too!
HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?
A series of lucky accidents! I read English at university so didn’t have any obvious career path when I graduated other than teaching, which I didn’t feel was me. So as a gamer growing up, I emailed every interesting-sounding indie studio in London asking if they needed a smart generalist to help around the office. I found an internship, which got my foot in the door, and quickly showed me that production was the discipline that really spoke to me. Once I knew that, I moved to a narrative games studio as their producer, where I really felt I was in the right area. Then I took a leap of faith and co-founded my current studio with my then-boss. It was the best (and most frightening) decision I’ve ever made.
TALK US THROUGH A RECENT WORK DAY…
My days always start with making sure everyone knows what they’re doing and that we’re all working towards the right milestone. Then it’s a mix of catching up on business and support emails (publisher emails, funding opportunities, bug reports from users, etc) and getting my teeth into my own work. My workload ranges from drawing 2D art to designing new merchandise to putting together HR policies for the team to putting out emergency fires (major bugs, problems with distribution, community management, etc). This is a large part of why I enjoy my job so much: each day really is different from the last.
WHAT DIGITAL SKILLS DO YOU USE ON A DAILY BASIS?
I taught myself Photoshop when I was a kid, and I now do all the graphic design and a bunch of the art for my studio. I’m in and out of Photoshop on a daily basis, while also using Github, Visual Studio and Unity for my day-to-day dev work. Finally, I spend a lot of time with our project management software, HacknPlan, which is a games-centric production management software for Agile and/or kanban game development.
WHAT DIGITAL SKILLS OR ATTRIBUTES WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE EDUCATORS TO SUPPORT YOUNG PEOPLE TO DEVELOP?
In games, code is king. I taught myself a bit of HTML and CSS at university, but I wish there’d been a code club or something at school. It’s hard to teach yourself something as technical as a programming language once you have a full-time job elsewhere, but certainly in production – where I have to lead very technical teams, and make technical decisions – the more I understand our codebase and its architecture, the better I can do my job.
I wouldn’t expect young children to learn C#, but teaching them something code-related will make them feel that code is something they can learn, and take the fear away from something as frighteningly technical as a coding language.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A YOUNG PERSON LOOKING TO ENTER THE DIGITAL SECTOR?
There’s a job for everyone in games. Whether you’re a coder or a fine artist or a composer or a writer or a generalist organised person like me, there’ll be a job that’s perfect for you in games. If you’re at all interested in doing something creative with tech, this is the place for you!