People Make Kwalee: Jen Koch

Kwalee is made up of a diverse bunch of people, and we’re growing all the time!

To provide some insight into the multitude of individuals and roles that go into releasing chart-topping games, we’re pulling back the curtain and focusing on the people that make it all happen.

This time we’re chatting to our Talent Acquisition maestro, Jen Koch!

 

What do you do at Kwalee?

I’m a Junior Talent Acquisition Executive, which means that I support all our recruitment efforts — from reviewing applications and portfolios, right through to arranging and running interviews alongside hiring managers.

I also have the freedom to go outside of these responsibilities, which allows me to explore other areas of interest including social media. 

While I focus primarily on hiring in specific areas, mainly marketing and analytics, I get to work across all kinds of disciplines and I love the diversity this exposes me to. Reviewing portfolios of the talented artists who apply to work at Kwalee, for instance, is a particular treat!

How did your career in games begin?

Games have always been a big part of my life. All my family are big gamers; I remember my Mum playing Doom and not allowing me in the room!

So it was hardly surprising that I got into games early, my first game being Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. I also confused my Nan by requesting the Age of Empires collection as a Christmas present, which was not what she expected of me!

Despite this, I took a long route into the games industry. I joined the army at 17, after which I went to university to study Languages (I was already tri-lingual) before switching to Childhood Studies. I worked part-time in games retail while studying.

I graduated unsure what to do, but games remained a big part of my life. I was always looking for a pathway into the industry, but that felt a long way off since I wasn’t an artist, or a coder, or a game designer. 

But after a period working in an HR role at a school, I used that experience to apply for this role at Kwalee.

How does life at Kwalee differ from other companies you’ve worked with?

The biggest difference is that everyone is encouraged to be creatively open. We are all given space to think outside the box, and that equally applies to those not actively involved in game development. 

Our mindset is that there could always be a different or better method of doing things, so it only makes sense that we continually investigate different approaches. 

On top of that, Kwalee is a really friendly environment with lots of shared interests and hobbies. Everyone gets along and many of us also spend time together outside of work, with activities including board games, bouldering and a fortnightly film night. There is no toxic culture here, which is something we’re all proud of.

Tell us something about your role that you think will surprise people.

While not at all surprising in the context of Kwalee, some outside the company might be surprised to hear that I have been given the platform to pitch game ideas through Creative Wednesdays. 

I have a little book of game ideas to which I’m always adding; I’ve pitched a game before, and plan to do so again.

What’s been your proudest moment as a Kwalee employee?

I feel really privileged to have been a part of the company in the past year, a period in which we’ve doubled in size. This allowed me to learn a lot and touch upon a lot of different departments and areas.

Knowing that I’ve helped more women to be hired is also a source of pride, as is being made a Women in Games ambassador. Seeing people pitching their great game ideas on Creative Wednesdays, when I’ve been involved in their journey at Kwalee from their initial application all the way through the process, gives me a warm feeling. 

Being hired by Kwalee felt like getting my dream job, and I hope that I have created similar moments for people I’ve been involved in hiring.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get into the games industry?

If you’re passionate about working in games, you need to let that passion shine through in your application in order to stand out — particularly for junior roles. Education is important, but it’s also important to show what you’ve done in your own time. 

From more personal experience, I’d note that there are a number of routes into the industry; you don’t have to be an artist or a coder to work in a games company, as you can see from the diversity of our current vacancies.

And finally, do a lot of research! Take the time to learn about the industry and know not only about the company you’re applying for but their competitors too. Read games industry news, follow relevant companies and individuals on Linkedin, and generally make an effort to learn how the industry really works. I believe this gave me a real advantage, and it can do the same for you.

 

If you’re interested in joining Jen and the rest of our team, we’re hiring for a whole host of exciting positions right now! Or, if you’re already developing your own games, you can submit them to our publishing team here.