IT / Telecom

Career gateway for the creative and unconventional

by Anna Tong

Ivor Lai (right), chief technology officer; Teddy Hung, chief creative officer, funmobile Limited
Photo: Wallace Chan

Game lovers wooed by leading mobile content developer

Among a mobile phone's many uses, mobile entertainment is attracting a big following and creating business opportunities.

funmobile Limited is capitalising on developing mobile content for this burgeoning field. Since its establishment in 2003, with only five people, the company has grown to more than 230 staff worldwide. This year, to cope with the speedy business growth, funmobile plans to take on over 200 recruits.

According to Ivor Lai, chief technology officer at funmobile, candidates who want to join the company can expect a work environment packed with fun. "The majority of our team members are aged from 23 to 25. That means we find a lot of similarities amongst each other or we 'share the same channels'. Moreover, staff can come to work in casual wear because they are meant to feel comfortable and stress-free throughout their innovative jobs," Mr Lai says.

Staff are also encouraged to take breaks whenever needed. The office provides entertaining facilities such as board games, air hockey, fussball and the upcoming PS-3. "It is necessary for the creative team to get away from their duties and relax. More importantly, team members may get inspired while they are treating themselves," Teddy Hung, funmobile's chief creative officer points out.

Be in touch

Besides these provisions, team members can also play games from the market so that they can keep in touch with the game genres and varieties available on the shelves. "We have as well our own research and development (R&D) team to provide significant information on the market trends. The game design teams have every opportunity to create leading-edge products," Mr Hung adds. "To add elements of creativity, team members rotate from one team to another to alter combinations. Also, we will bring in new blood by introducing new joiners or by varying game types."

To start off a project, a game design team will undergo brainstorming sessions with members from across the company. Details, as small as a single screenshot, will be laid down in the design schedules. Crosschecking is carried out at every stage of a project to ensure that the final product meets customer expectations.

Quality games

During this phase of rapid growth, funmobile is looking for graphic designers, 3D animators and programmers for its game team. As Mr Hung states, "People with open minds and an outgoing personality are preferred but all of them must be passionate game fans."

"We believe these people have better understanding of the business and are more dedicated to making high quality games," Mr Lai explains. "Many of our team members volunteer to bring home their work just because they cannot stop doing something they like."

Qualifications are of less importance since comprehensive training is offered to new comers. Graphic designers and 3D animators in the creative team will gain knowledge about the mobile game industry and acquire specific skills before they receive an in-house pixel arts training. They will then be assigned to peripheral artwork such as drawing icons and resizing pictures as hands-on practice.

For the technology team, all new programmers are trained as novices in the first month of service. They are briefed using the internal library for mobile game programming and coached by experienced members on a one-to-one basis. They have to pass a standard game task before moving on to higher-level duties.

There are structured career ladders in both the creative and technology teams. Creative talents advance to managerial positions responsible for quality control of the design products. They need to ensure consistency of artwork style and work with project managers to keep up with project schedules.

"For programmers in the technology teams, they can develop in two directions," Mr Lai notes. Above the senior programmer posts, they can be R&D managers or project managers. R&D managers must foresee market demands and the technical needs they entail. For each project, they will break it down into individual modules so different teams can work together. As for project managers, they overlook the running of projects in terms of scheduling, distribution of resources and keeping track of progress.

"Good career prospects is only one of the reasons people like to work with us. They like our culture as well as the opportunities to travel out of Hong Kong. Currently, we have offices in the US, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. The exposure is appealing to the young workforce." Mr Lai concludes.


Taken from Career Times 16 March 2007
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