5 lessons learned as an intern at an indie games company
When I first started looking for internship companies as I neared the end of my fifth semester, I didn’t know what to expect. I was a lost, 22-year old final-year student, just about to cross the threshold of adulthood and it stumped me how difficult finding an internship company was when you don’t know what you’re looking for. That’s when I stumbled on kakuchopurei’s interview with a local independent games company, Persona Theory.
Long story short, I was intrigued. An independent visual novel games company focusing on visual storytelling based here in Malaysia? That was a first for me. I couldn’t wrap my head around it but something about that interview video pulled me in. I’ve always loved storytelling and games, so without thinking about it too much I sent them an email. They immediately got back to me as soon as I hit them up, and set up an interview. I was approached by the two managing directors of the company, Buddy Anwardi and Saqina Latif. We had an interview about my wanting to be a writing intern there, and I asked them about the company. I was given a week to decide whether I was sure of interning at Persona Theory, and without thinking about it too much, I agreed. Fast forward a few months later, I’m in the last week of my internship. As I write about this article, I remember one of the first things my supervisor said to me when I started in the company, “I want you to write something that shows the experience you had here at the end of your internship”, so here it is.
Learn Adapt Improvise
Interning at Persona Theory has been a roller coaster. When I first started, the company was in the midst of pitching a project to a client, so I was thrown into the action, head first. I had to quickly adapt and learn the lingo of the company as soon as I was in. As this was my first time interning, I had to get familiar with programs like google sheets and google slides. Thanks to the support and help from my supervisors and team members, I did. The managing directors, lead artist, game designers, game programmers, and interns are all linked to each other like a delicately-balanced spider web, where each role plays an important part in developing the games for the company.
Speak now, or forever hold your peace in pieces
One of the most vital things I learned while interning is to never assume anything. Working on something that requires the effort of a whole team for it to work requires a substantial amount of communication and it is the most important thing. Nothing, not even something that seems small like the font size for an article or naming conventions for certain folders should be taken lightly. Like I said before, the team is linked to each other like a delicately-balanced spider web, and if a part of that web messes up — it falls apart.
Audio check with the team!
The culture of a video game company
The culture here at Persona Theory Games is that of a bohemian lifestyle. Our office is more of a co-working space than an actual office, so employees and supervisors are encouraged to dress down and drop the honorifics. From my experience, I’ve come to understand that communication within Persona Theory isn’t set upon a hierarchy structure. Of course, you still show respect to senior workers and those who have more experience than you, but that doesn’t make you inferior to them. My supervisors and senior colleagues all listen and accept ideas from us interns, and respect us enough to have discussions about them. Working at Persona Theory feels more like working with a group of unlikely family members rather than a group of unlikely strangers, where trust plays a huge role in progression.
A day in-the-life of a Persona Theory Games intern
A day in-the-life of an intern at a video games development company. Sounds like a cool youtube video, doesn’t it? Well, it’s cool in reality too. My typical day starts with a traffic jam, so I’ve to go out at least by 9:20am in order to get to the workplace by 10:00am. Once I’ve arrived, I'd have a cup of coffee before pushing through with work. Most days, I'm stuck in front of my laptop screen, writing and researching — with one or two meetings in-between. Others, I’d be visiting our clients and partners as part of our fieldwork projects.
Flynn — one of our supervisors
Separate life and work... If possible.
“No matter how much fun it is, work is still work” is a phrase that I take strongly to heart. I’m a firm believer that your work and your personal life should be separated, because how else would you appreciate one or the other? One is designed to keep you on your toes while the other helps you unwind. Which is why I believe that, despite some of the flexibility and leniancies of Persona Theory, they are a very result-oriented company. My supervisors are very understanding when I consult them regarding certain difficulties or complications that I'm facing regarding work, my personal life and studies, but they still expect me to deliver on the tasks that they’ve assigned me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Before I complete the last level of this adventure, I would like to take a second to thank my supervisors and colleagues for the support and knowledge they’ve given me for the past three months. I believe what I’ve learned here can be used to further progress my career and my life. Being able to work here with these talented up-and-coming developers has been an honor, and I’m excited to see the strides that the company will come to achieve in years to come. And me? I’ll be looking at them proudly, and say “that’s my team!”.
The Persona Theory family
Our latest game will be out very soon, so please look forward to Fires at Midnight.
Demo out now, on itch.io.
As usual, do follow us on our socials on Twitter (@personatheorymy), Instagram (@personatheory) (@firesatmidnightgame), and Facebook (@personatheory) (@firesatmidnight) for more info on us and our upcoming narrative interactive video game, Fires At Midnight — which centers around a young couple living in late 90's Kuala Lumpur, struggling to make ends meet while being stuck in a toxic relationship.
Let Love Burn - Fires At Midnight's latest teaser