Jehanne Rousseau - CEO of the Spiders studio
1) 1- In first place Jehanne, can you explain your career ?
I didn’t make specific studies, because before, video game schools didn’t exist in France. and, to be honest, I had no idea at the time that it was possible to work in this sector. But I joined the industry as a 2D graphic designer while I was 22 by luck, thanks to a friend who put me in touch with someone who was launching a new studio. It was a very small company of which I was the first employee, there was everything to do, which led me quickly to also do game design and coach small teams. After a few years this company had serious financial difficulties and I joined Gameloft. Before, we still played very simple black and white games on phones that had few graphic possibilities.
But this is a sector that has evolved at an incredible speed and in a year and a half I had the chance to manage many, increasingly complex, developments as a producer of several international teams and on several platforms.
Subsequently I joined Montecristo as a project manager, to supervise the development of an RPG and its add-on. It was on this occasion that I met those who would become my associates. Once this double development ended and Montecristo decided to stop the developments of this kind of game that was important to us, so we decided to create our own studio. We created Spiders a few months later, in July 2008. I am the manager and majority partner since its inception and this year it will be 20 years that I work in the video game industry.
2) I WOULD LIKE TO FOCUS WITH YOU THE RECRUITMENT AT SPIDERS. FIRST, DO YOU HAVE A DEDICATED HR PERSON ?
Not really. We have a financial director who plays part of the role of human resources manager for the administrative part. But the recruitment at Spiders is primarily done by the managers of each department in collaboration with the project manager. That is to say that it’s the technical director who deals with the recruitment of developers, that it’s the Lead Game Designer who deals with the recruitment of game and level designer, and that it’s the director artist who recruits graphic designers.
The video game is today a very technical area, very sharp, it makes sense for me that it’s the people most aware of our needs who are engaged in the recruitment of their employees.
3) IF EACH POLE MANAGER IS IN CHARGE OF RECRUITING HIS SECTION, IS THERE NEVERTHELESS A JOINT GUIDELINE ?
In addition to the technical skills of the person sought for this job, we will try to find someone who we think he’s going to adapt very well in the team, so also having human and social qualities. The alchemy of a team is something fragile and precious. It is therefore at least as important for someone who will join us to be competent as to get along well with all the other people including in different departments, because during the development the work is very collaborative.
It’s also necessary today that the candidates speak English well because we work with international partners.
Finally it is obviously very important that the person is motivated by the kind of projects we develop and she has a certain culture not only of video games, but especially of the RPG, because it’s our specialty.
4) AS A PERSONAL MATTER, WHAT MAKES A CV WILL HOLD YOUR ATTENTION ?
I don’t like too fancy CVs, which often have the flaw of not being very readable. I like so much sober, classic CVs. The other important point is that the CV clearly indicates the searched job. This sounds obvious but unfortunately it’s far from the case of all those we receive.
Otherwise I always look professional experience in the first place. Needless to say that having experience in the field helps a lot and in the middle of many CVs, someone with experience in development will be more likely than another. The duration of each engagement too. Someone who "flutters" a lot will be potentially less interesting in the long run than someone who engages. Especially in the context of CDI.
If the candidate is young and has no work experience, I will look if there are any personal projects or portfolios. These elements are more interesting to us than an experience in a field that would have nothing to do, because they allow us to measure not only the talent but also the motivation of the candidate. The rest is a little anecdotal for me. In some areas (graphics in particular) I must admit that we're just taking a look at the CV, it's the portfolio that does everything!
5) [PROMO TIME]: What are the projects of the Spiders studio ?
We are in the process of completing the development of Greedfall, the largest project we have worked on so far and which has led to further expansion of our team and new collaborators. Then we want to continue to grow the studio, not only by continuing the development of bigger projects, but also by creating a second development team sometime next year.
6) MORE AND MORE SELF-TAUGHT PEOPLE SEEM TO ARRIVE IN THE SECTOR. WHAT CONSIDERATION DO YOU BRING TO SPIDERS FOR THESE PROFILES WHO HAVE NOT SANCTIONED THEIR SKILLS THROUGH A DIPLOMA ?
I don’t think there are more autodidacts now than there were 20 years ago, on the contrary! There are now many schools specializing in video games or in similar areas such as animation, which didn’t exist before. This being the case for me, diplomas are not important, probably because I am self-taught myself and have worked over the years with other particularly talented self-taught students. A good portfolio or practical experience will always be more valuable to me than a diploma.
7) Finally, Chef's tip : THE VIDEO GAME, AND ITS INDUSTRY, IS OFTEN PRESENTED AS THE FIRST FRENCH CULTURAL FIELD IN TERMS OF TURNOVER, WITH VERY SIGNIFICANT GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES. WHAT ARE YOUR EYES ON THIS (HYPOTHETICAL) OPULENCE ?
I wouldn’t go so far as to talk about opulence, at least for the moment. If this is a field that yields a lot at the global level, developers still face many difficulties including cash and fundraising. I am very cautious about my company because I take the responsibility I have for my employees very seriously. Also, although our growth prospects are very positive, I prefer to take the time to develop the teams and choose the best projects. But the video game is an exciting field that is constantly renewed with the changes of consoles and the arrival of new technologies and new uses. It touches more and more people and I don’t doubt that we have good days in front of us.
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