Data Engineer Lariel Castilhos writes about working at Wildlife for a bit more than three months – and why this is such an important period for newcomers.
For me, a new job is supposed to set an evolution, an opportunity to learn and exchange knowledge with people who are really good at what they do. For those who work in Data Engineering, this has a lot to do with the optimizations and positive impacts that we bring to business. This mindset brought me to Wildlife – even though it was not yet part of my plans to work in a gaming company.
It has been a bit over 100 days since I joined the team, and this is known as an intense period at the company for new Wilders. At this stage, we dive into the company’s culture and really feel we’re part of it. At the same time, we find out what is expected from us, until we finally get the confidence to make big decisions.
Now, imagine how is it like to experience this onboarding process from home, and therefore not being able to meet coworkers in person, going out for lunch together or setting up a happy hour at the end of the day. I arrived at Wildlife a week after Work from Home was adopted, but I’m glad I made the decision to join a team where everyone is very committed and helps each other – even remotely.
A week before my first day at work, I moved to an apartment near the office to make my routine easier. At that time, no one could have any idea that we would be working from home for so long. That’s why today, I can see myself in two groups at the same time: among “newcomers”, but also among those who can already welcome Wilders who have just arrived (many people have been at the company for a month or two). But let’s rewind a little bit.
HOW THIS STORY BEGAN
Wildlife and I started “flirting” after a lecture I gave in a data science event. Someone messaged me via LinkedIn on behalf of the company, inviting me for a chat. Until then, I had only worked in consulting companies for more conventional industries, such as banks and telecoms. It didn’t occur to me that working in a gaming company could be interesting, and I had no idea of the size and relevance of this industry.
Shortly afterwards, in a completely off-work event, I ended up meeting an engineer from Wildlife’s Rendering Engineering team, who invited me over the office and introduced me to Diego Valdez, Data Platform Manager. This face-to-face experience had an extra impact: I liked the office, and even more the people working there, and what they were doing.
After the visit it was clear to me that the company was very data-driven, so I started thinking about the possibility of working with games for the first time. Not that I didn’t like games, quite the contrary. I’ve always played a lot, but on consoles, so I was distant from mobile games for a long time.. As I researched about Wildlife and their products, it was a good surprise to notice the evolution of the mobile gaming market.
Also, I had no idea that there was a Brazilian-native company among the top players in this market. Some of my friends were already playing Tennis Clash and Zooba, but nobody had any idea that the games had a national DNA.
Doubts were still hanging in my head, but my passion for data sparked the desire to take the challenge towards startups environment with the opportunity to produce technology for the company. So, I tried to find out more and came across Wildlife’s Tech Blog which features really interesting and innovative projects happening in the fields of Data Science and Machine Learning. I needed to make sure that I would work with cutting-edge technology, so that was the ultimate push to keep going in the recruitment process.
Throughout the process, I fell more and more in love with the idea of doing what I like in a gaming company. And once I got there, I started working on the data platform – a team that provides technology to other departments of the company to work with data.
In general, the company needs to be able to efficiently use the data generated by player interactions. With the proper use of this information, studio teams can make decisions based on information that is precise and current, which makes all the difference in the business.
So, we build tools which will handle all this data volume in a viable and safe way, thus allowing other departments to have the inputs they need to innovate and provide increasingly better services. Our team’s role is to make information accessible, easy to work with and fast, so everything else can also be done efficiently.
From the beginning, one of the aspects that attracted me to Wildlife’s data team was being able to do something that is really relevant to the company. Here, Data Engineering is a priority and extremely necessary. It plays a key role in improving the user acquisition and allows the company to react quickly towards the players’ needs.
Projects involving data are taken very seriously and, even though our work is fast paced, we have time, resources and people to do something that adds value both to the company and those who play. Most importantly, we have leaders who understand and appreciate our work, rather than putting unnecessary pressure on us. All of this makes me feel proud of what the team is doing – not to mention it’s much less stressful compared to other places where I’ve worked at.
After starting to work in the field, my perspective on games has changed. I acquired a critical sense into things, so when I’m playing I always look for what relevant data can be generated, how can it be monetized, where the user experience can be improved, etc. These things have real impact on the results, which challenges me to learn more and more.
For me it’s very exciting, because Data Engineering is what enables a company to grow in a smart way, and this is, in my opinion, the best way to evolve. I’m the kind of person who likes to optimize processes – regardless of their final use. No kidding. Even when I need to make a list for food shopping, I write in a text file the items in my favorite format: YAML. It’s beautiful, organised, and with just one look you can easily understand it. This is a small example, but it shows how Data Engineering for me has to do with those little efficiency tweaks.
THE CHALLENGE OF WORKING FROM HOME
The Data Engineering work has definitely exceeded my expectations, but working from home was not my plan and has been a daily challenge. My quarantine routine got a little messy, because the notion of time is different – a lot of people probably relate to that.
A large portion of my day is dedicated to Zoom meetings or Slack discussions with the team in order to make decisions, so I end up leaving technical tasks like coding and testing for late in the afternoon. I like to do that when I have more peace of mind and fewer distractions. I put on a song on my headphones and then the hours fly by and I hardly feel it – when I get excited about some specific delivery, I can stay up working at night just for the pleasure of seeing it done, without the burden of obligation.
I want to be able to meet with colleagues and talk about matters other than just work, create deeper connections, and open up a little bit more with them. We try to find a way to interact, booking happy hours or lunches online, but not everyone can join and there are also lots of new people, who are still a bit shy in these occasions.
Even so, I realize that everyone is very transparent, shows affection and attention, with a very human approach, without losing sight of excellence and constant improvement. When someone spots an opportunity to improve the work of a colleague, they don’t get hesitant to say it: they know how to point it out in a constructive way.
The “Wildlife way of being” has been proving very similar to what I expected from the first (good) impression. For now, due to the isolation, I miss a greater interaction with the other teams to be able to exchange ideas with people from other departments.
As I come from a consulting company environment, it was normal to be in touch with different people all the time, in a very dynamic way – we didn’t even sit at the same desk every day.. Being part of a single team is still very new to me.
I’m also happy to see how diversity and inclusion issues have been part of the company’s day-to-day and business objectives. It’s not something restricted to a marketing strategy. There are goals related to these initiatives and a serious commitment to achieve them.
So my expectations get higher each day, as I see interesting projects being conducted, and opportunities to make a difference to the company with my own work.
Wildlife already makes incredible games and has everything to become an even greater reference in the gaming sector, and our way of working with data is certainly one of our advantages in this route to success. That’s why I get this feeling of being in the right place at the right time.