Sponsor Spotlight: EA-Industrial Toys
By Holly Hight, Event & Development Coordinator
Scott Cameron currently works as the UX/UI Lead at Electronic Arts-Industrial Toys based in Pasadena, CA. Industrial Toys is an independent game studio focused on creating great mobile games for core gamers. Industrial Toys was acquired by Electronic Arts last year.
What is your position? How do you view your role?
I am UX/UI Lead at Industrial Toys. As the UX Lead, I think a lot about the experience that a player goes through the entire time they are playing our game. I consider what they experience from when they look at it in the app store to when they start playing it to after they’ve been playing it for months or even years. It’s important for me to understand what the player wants in a game experience. The UI side of my job considers the actual buttons a user presses — it’s more technical. User experience is a little more esoteric while user interface is more detailed, like what’s actually happening on screen.
How did you find this position?
Prior to this job, I worked for a startup in Old Pasadena called TouchTable. We were around for about 10 years and developed large touch screens. That market slowly went away as mobile phones were more readily adopted. I looked around for UX/UI related jobs and I found Industrial Toys through the Innovate Pasadena website. I live in the neighborhood (Old Town Pasadena), so it was a natural fit. Also, Alex Seropian (one of the founders of Industrial Toys) and I have mutual acquaintances from the game industry. I’ve been in and around the graphics/gaming industry for about 20 years.
Have you always been involved in this industry?
I’ve been involved in software since college and video games since right after college. I bounced around a bit. I did grad school at UCLA in film. I did some other graphics stuff — near video games. My career has always been close to entertainment and video games. I like it a lot!
What kind of trends do you see in user experience (UX) and user interface (UI)?
UX has been around for 20 years in advertising and other places — or longer depending on how you want to define it. Depending on where you go in the gaming industry, they are starting to adopt these practices more broadly, especially in the past 10 years. It’s interesting to see how the games and the processes evolve.
In general, the gaming industry is getting better at making games that users want. The quality of games has gone up a great deal in the last five years, particularly in console and now in mobile, which is where we are. This has a lot to do with adopting UX processes and listening to the players as opposed to just making what seems like a good idea at the time.
Tell us about the company culture at Industrial Toys.
Our culture is about sharing new ideas, trying new things and being critical of them in a balanced way. It’s core to how we get things done.
What keeps you engaged in your job?
The culture is something that’s kept me around. I’ve been in studios where a feedback loop did not exist — either in the ability to say whatever you want or the ability to criticize things so that you can refine them to a better or sharper idea. That type of culture doesn’t last long term. I’ve been here for almost five years, because this culture is integral to creating a solid product.
What’s your favorite perk of working at Industrial Toys?
My favorite perk of working here is that I can walk to work. Aside from that, I really enjoy being on a small team within a large company. I’m on a first name basis with everyone at Industrial Toys. Since we were acquired by EA, we obviously need their approval to get things done. But, the lion’s share of the creative decisions are made by Industrial Toys. Being able to talk to the people who are making decisions and pitch things internally is very important to our culture.
What’s your favorite game that you’ve developed?
There are two that stick out in my mind. Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus was a fighting game that came out shortly after the Xbox. I worked on it with the team that made Mortal Kombat. It was my first game, so I learned a lot and there was a lot of talent on that team. I think it was the most artistic game I’ve ever been apart of — in terms of creating characters, environments and world building.
My second favorite game was Midnight Star: Renegade. It was the first mobile game I made that was truly a mobile game. We weren’t trying to adapt a console game to mobile. We thought about the mobile environment at every step of the design.
How is innovation or the work you do important to you personally?Innovation is like water for me. I’ve always worked in technology, so I take it for granted. As an engineer and the UX/UI Lead here, I approach my career in a way where I am always trying to make something better. I enjoy solving problems.
The way I generally solve problems is to innovate.
There are plenty of other ways to do things. For instance, you can make things cheaper or faster, but you get the biggest jumps, both in terms of the user experience and splash in the marketplace, by doing things that are new and innovative. I would not survive here without that — that’s why I do it.
Is there anything that you’ve done in your work that has surprised you?
I was really surprised about a situation we encountered at TouchTable. We were the first to marry multi-touch to maps. This was over 15 years ago and it was novel at the time. There were aspects of the touch screen that we thought would be very intuitive to the user. But, people would walk up to the screen and be afraid to touch it. We had to figure out how to get over people’s hesitancy to touch things. Our first time through we had all these gestures that could change the appearance of the screen. I knew how to do it, but when I put it in front of a user, they could only do the very basic functions. And, you really don’t want the user to have to think harder than that. Sometimes, your aspirations can be way past what you can easily communicate to your user.
What should we look forward to from Industrial Toys?
We are working on a high profile title with the full support from EA that’s a couple years away. We’re in the prototyping stages now.
Do you have any closing words of advice for someone interested in working in the gaming industry?
It can be challenging to get a job and stay in the industry. Be honest with yourself about what you want to accomplish and stick with it. It’s often hard to see what kind of progress you are making from week to week. It’s critical to be on a good team that helps you to understand your progress.