#WeMakeGames interview series:
- Name: Preciosa Dombele
- From: “Born in São Paulo, Brazil, then moved to France to study when I was 18, I stayed there for 12 years, and now I’m living in Malmö, Sweden”
- Age: 29
- Enjoying: “Drawing, painting, dance, and arts in general”
- Favorite game: The Sims 3 (“even though I’ve played Sims 4 even more”) and Genshin Impact
- Profession: User Research Project Manager at Massive Entertainment – A Ubisoft Studio
What is your background?
“If someone would have asked me a few years ago, I would never have said that I would work in the games industry. After finishing my degree in International Relations, I moved on to Cultural Anthropology/Ethnology. In 2018, I started to work at Paris Nanterre University as a PhD Student and Assistant Lecture in the Department of Anthropology, while I conducted my research in the field of religious anthropology and international community building. Up until 2021, my work experience as a researcher was from academia, but after the pandemic, I needed some changes in my life and I started to look for ways to transfer my skills from academia to the private sector. During the second semester of 2021, I got a job as a Research Consultant in Stockholm, and after this amazing experience, I decided to change my career and aim for new horizons.”
Why did you start working in the game industry?
“When I was in Stockholm, I attend some network events for people who worked in tech and I specifically met many people who worked in the games industry. During these meetings, I started to wonder, how could an anthropologist be useful in the games or tech industry? I then decided to apply for jobs in the games industry. I got a job interview with Massive and met with the person that would become my future lead. She presented me with her research project for the company, and what would be my mandate in my role. At that moment, I told to myself: ‘I want to take part in that!’ Now that I think of it, it’s funny, because some years ago, at one point of my life, I thought ‘it would be so nice to be able to work in games’, but I thought a girl like me would never find her place in the games industry, I didn’t see myself as gamer, even though I played a lot of strategy and simulation games since my teenage years. “
“If someone would have asked me a few years ago, I would never have said that I would work in the games industry.”
How has working in the industry been for you?
“It’s way better then what I imagined! I don’t know how it is in other studios, but at least at Massive, I felt very welcomed and part of the studio as soon as I started. The beginning was very challenging though, because as a User Researcher, the most important thing for me is to get an overview of our players, learn to speak their language and translate it to our teams. And this was a bit difficult as I don’t work with one specific game, but with our online platforms, which puts me in contact with a huge variety of players. It’s challenging, but at the same time it’s also super interesting, because through each research project, I have to learn more about a specific group of players, a different game, a different feature, and it makes me think more about the player experience before launching a game.
As someone with a background in Social Science, I am super happy that I started to work in the games industry. Many students in my field do not imagine that this could be a place they could work to apply their knowledge in games production and player experiences. The background in Social Science helped me to look for social aspects of user experiences, to look beyond the obvious and try to apply ethnographic thinking while running user experience studies. And for that reason, I appreciate focusing on our players’ experience when they are not playing, to see how their game experience expectation impacts their relation with our other products and how this experience impacts their gameplay.”
Massive Entertainment’s studio in central Malmö.
What is a day in your work life like?
“Monday is the meeting day! For our team workflow, we receive requests from designers and product owners, we have research alignment meetings, we discuss methodological methods that can help us answer our stakeholders’ questions, and then we start to plan the study. The planning period is a constant moment of going back and forth, talking and iterating with designers, sync with our collaborators, and preparing everything for the day that we will run the tests. So, a day in a User Research’s work life depends on the period of the study’s circle, some days we will only be having meetings, but others we would be testing prototypes and builds, or talking with players, or analyzing data, or writing reports.”
“Network is key! But not networking in order to get a job, but to get a glimpse of what the industry looks like. “
What’s best with your job?
“Getting to know our players and what they expect is what motivates me the most, and to translate that to our stakeholders in order to help them take the best possible decision which might impact the user experience in a positive way.”
How would you advise others that want a job like yours to pursue it?
“Network is key! But not networking in order to get a job, but to get a glimpse of what the industry looks like. I learned the power of networking very late. The other thing I would say, do not be discouraged or stressed about degrees, see what competences and skills you need to have, and compare that with what you learned at your university and in previous jobs. If you are missing technical skills, you can always find courses and training, the most important thing is to be eager to learn and to learn fast. When I wanted to switch from academic research to UX research, I started to listen to podcasts about it, read blog posts, and in the last months I also started to follow streamers and play games that I have never played before in order to learn. So if you are eager to learn, you can do it!”
The #WeMakeGames interview series allow individuals in the game industry to tell their story, about their current work, how they got to where they are and why they believe the games industry is such an enjoyable industry to work in. We move beyond programmers and level designers, to showcase the wide range of roles making up the studios creating some of the world’s best games – right here in south Sweden!