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Developers, Company Culture

Let the Sparks Fly: Meet the SparkLabs Mobile Game Development Team

by AppLovin on Mar 19, 2020

To wrap up our series on the SparkLabs team here at AppLovin, we’re going to dive into the world that our game developers live in. 

Our game development team, which creates our incredible playable ads, is a team where every idea is valid and collaboration is the key to success. While it’s important to have a computer science background and be proficient in javascript — there are so many other aspects of this team that are important. Game development experience is a plus and an understanding of game and graphic design are invaluable in this role given how collaborative SparkLabs is. Of course, the intangible skills are just as valuable — great communication and organizational skills are essential to keep ensuring that the team is delivering the highest quality, innovative ads to our customers in a timely manner. 

This team has had varied previous experiences — while some have always been mobile game devs, others come from backgrounds in everything from being a UX/UI generalist to leading their own gaming studio. While playable ad development might not be the most traditional career path for someone with a computer science degree, or someone who has been in mobile gaming — our game devs have found a career that allows them to both collaborate and own coding projects from beginning to end, and even have input on the design elements of their work. 

One thing they all have in common now that they work for SparkLabs: A passion for pushing to create the best playable ads they can. 

“The part of my job I love the most is that there is a unique interplay between working on individual projects, and the team still being incredibly collaborative,” said Zachary Gill, Senior Game Developer at SparkLabs. “For example, the whole game dev team QAs each other’s work, but we also have the design team QA for us as well.”

As mentioned in our piece on female game developers at SparkLabs, the game development team works very closely with the design team, which results in a unique cross-collaboration that allows our developers to flex their design muscles as well.

“I’ve learned so much from our design team’s feedback over the years,” said Kellie Knight, Senior Game Developer at SparkLabs. “I’m able to use design feedback from one project to another, and I’m now more aware of design elements in my work.”

Like the other teams at AppLovin, the game development team at SparkLabs is data driven to ensure we deliver the top-performing playables to our customers. In fact, the team has had to learn to be more pragmatic about the direction to take certain ads. While it might seem like there was a “safe” direction for an ad to go — there might be data to show that something ‘sillier’ or more ‘out of the box’ is performing better. This is not a team that creates work based on high-level artistic ideas coming from one person — because the team is not always able to predict what is going to work well.  Rather, the whole team is open to experimentation, testing and letting a healthy mix of data, intuition and experience drive creative direction and strategy. 

“We get the opportunity to experiment with voice overs and live reactions, which are really fun,” said Samantha Pena, Design Manager at SparkLabs. “If we can get something that makes the team laugh, it’s usually a good sign that the ad will perform well.”

Our game developers are also gamers themselves, and they play everything from old school RPGs to immersive console games, but have found a love for creating incredible, rich playable ads for mobile games.  

“Not everyone wants to work with ads instead of the games themselves,” said Gabor Kondas, Director of Game Development at SparkLabs. “Playables have actually allowed us a lot of experimentation over the years. We have gotten to work in uncharted territory and have added several innovative elements to playables — looking back, it’s incredible to see the evolution of how this ad style has grown and changed alongside the mobile industry.”

For more information on SparkLabs, or to start your spark – check out the SparkLabs website.