Industry Insights - Lee Hunt
First up, what's your name and current/previous roles
Hi everyone, my name is Lee Hunt and I am the International Product Manager for Koch Media / Deep Silver. Previously I was a Store Manager and Local Marketing and Events Manager for GAME, before becoming a UK Product Manager at Koch Media.
What is your video game history/background and all time favourite game?
My first gaming experience I remember was as a 5-year-old, playing Donkey Kong on an arcade machine with my Dad. At the age of 6, I left the UK and moved to Miami, Florida, and it was there where my parents bought me and my older brother an NES. I have been an avid gamer ever since, and I'm proud to see my 5-year-old son making the same journey I made - even if he does consistently destroy me on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
As for my favourite game of all-time? I always find that a tough one. As a football fan, I of course love Football Manager. I absolutely loved Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 (which I've shifted to Planet Coaster in more recent times). I love Modern Warfare 2, I'm a demon at Guitar Hero, I remember crying tears at the end of Telltale's The Walking Dead Season One, and as a kid I loved OutRun, Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter II.
I think my favourite game of all-time, though, is Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the Super Nintendo. That game blew my mind.
What/Who inspired you to get into the Video games industry?
I always wanted to work in video games. My friends and I would "design" games ourselves using graph paper and pens and pencils. As I got older, I moved towards wanting to be a journalist, then wanting to study business and management, but all the while I wanted to be involved in games.
I'd probably say the biggest individual influence on this was Shigeru Miyamoto - even though I didn't have the skillset to MAKE games like he did, I wanted to carve out a career to help people enjoy games and put them into the hands of gamers.
I guess my inspiration was seeing so many of my friends I grew up with hating their jobs, and me just wanting to make my worklife surrounded by something I am passionate about and have a deep appreciation of.
What training or qualifications did you need to get where you are now?
Being a Product Manager means that I put together complex marketing plans to help bring video games to market around the world. I also deal with asset management, and I liaise between external distributors and internal studios to ensure things get localised, and that our Export partners have everything they need. I also produce detailed product and retail presentations, and I also create, record, mix and edit video presentations for key games. I produce competitive market analysis for titles, and I assist our partners in building tailored local marketing approaches in their territories, as well as work to help them get assets approved and campaigns away, as well as deal with PR, journalists, influencers and code requests.
Most jobs in this field require a Marketing degree, and you need to have a really solid understanding of not just traditional and digital marketing landscapes, but also the video games business as a whole. It's a lot to learn, but it's ultimately rewarding!
What do you enjoy most about working in the games industry
It's always awesome to be able to work with something you love. Sometimes a day can be crazy busy, but you get hands-on an early build of something special and you remember just why you're in this business. Not only that, but the overwhelming majority of people in the games industry are amazing.
There's a real spirit of support and co-operation, even though our various companies compete with one another. It also helps when your colleagues are awesome. They make coming to work on a Monday after a holiday that little bit more bearable!
What has been your favourite contribution to a game or project?
I've made so many contributions to marketing projects, it's hard to pick! There's two that reach out to me. One was my retail presentation for "Goat Simulator", where I spent ages trying to build a professional, detailed synopsis of the game and it's features. In the end, I threw caution to the wind and built a presentation full of bugs, crazy sound effects, and a narrative centred on everyone's fantasy of being a goat.
I then stood up in front of every senior buyer in the UK and delivered this presentation, which went down a storm, and lead to a really strong performance from the game. But my absolute favourite is probably the whole UK F1 2018 campaign.
It was the first big-budget campaign I had ever worked on, and it helped F1 2018 get to number 1 in the GFK charts on release, which was the first time an F1 game had done that in a while. That feeling of your first number one is something you don't forget.
How do you find review embargo day on a project you have worked on? Nerves or excitement?
I'm normally quite excited, to be honest. Reviews are a subjective opinion, after all, but it's always good to see the thoughts of people who are experts in their field. Plus, I get to sift through coverage to find quotes for accolades trailers, so that's always good, too!
Do you like to watch people stream/make videos on your projects? What do you tend to look for?
I love watching streams, anyway. I'm an affiliated Twitch streamer myself, so I am fortunate in that I see both ends of the spectrum. But yeah, some of my favourite streamers I have stumbled across completely by accident while looking for people streaming either previous installments of games I'm working on, or streaming things very similar to it.
When it comes to streamers, I always look for someone who engages in their chat. I'm a fan of relatively simple overlays, and people that let their personality and their gameplay do the talking. I wander into some streams and try to interact with the streamer and get nothing back, which is where I then wander straight out. I'm not a fan of super complex overlays that detract from what's happening, either.
Also, as a streamer, PLEASE don't call me out if I'm lurking. I watch a lot of Twitch during the day, often just for background noise, and I hate being in a stream where I am suddenly being called out by a streamer I haven't spoken to. That's an instant unfollow/get out of there for me.
If applicable, have you ever snuck an Easter egg or hidden message into a project you've worked on? Was it ever found?
No, not really. Many of our products come through external developers and/or publishers, so I don't see it as my place to get "creative" in that way. I love it when I see developers do it, though!
What advice would you give anyone looking to get into the games industry?
Pick what you want to do early, and put your soul into it. Network with people, hone your abilities and pursue your chosen profession in outside interests, too.
Want to be a Community Manager? Run a community! Want to be an environmental artist? Build environments! Want to program AI? Program some AI!
While it may seem like it's sitting down playing lots of games, it really isn't like that. It's a lot of work, it's a super dynamic industry that changes almost by the day, and in some fields it is a tough one to get into. But put in the effort and you'll get the payout.
How has the current 2020 COVID-19 situation affected your work in the industry
Well for me, it's not been too impactful. I worked from home a couple of days a week anyways, so I just transitioned into the home office full-time. It has it's pros and cons - on one hand I live 80 miles away from the office, so I don't miss the commute, but on the other hand I miss being in the office, the little chats you have with people, being able to just walk over and speak to someone, having lunch with your colleagues and having those daily people interactions that Skype, Teams and Zoom just can't substitute.
Work-wise, though, it's impact has been limited. I can still do everything remotely, and games are still being made and released.
There's been a resurgence in games buying since the COVID-19 outbreak, which is obviously beneficial for our business, and because my job see's me looking after places like Russia, South-East Asia, the Balkans, the Middle-East, Africa, China and Japan, it's been almost strange to see how differently other parts of the world have dealt with and experienced the pandemic.
Lee Hunt is an International Product Manager for Koch Media / Deep Silver. He is also a Twitch streamer who streams a variety of games. Find his streat at www.twitch.tv/eternalleehd and on Twitter @EternalLeeHD
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