Mentoring – you might be doing it already


MCV Women in Games Awards at Facebook May 11, 2018.

Do you remember all of your good teachers, both in- and outside of the classroom? The ones who inspired you, pushed you, believed in you, called you on your BS? I do, and they made all the difference.

Last week I was honoured to win the MCV Women in Games Award for Career Mentor of the Year. I didn’t have exposure to this industry when I was growing up, so I feel blessed to have the chance to be a part of it now. I think it’s up to all of us to make the opportunities available in this incredible industry accessible to those trying to follow in our footsteps, and apparent to those who may not have even considered it as an option.


My boss and Space Ape mentor Mickey.

I’m proud to be part of a studio which takes that seriously. We set up our Varsity Program for students earlier this year, partnering with local universities to deliver lectures about disciplines in games. We livestreamed the lectures on Twitch, and had more than 16 thousand live views. One of the students I met through the program is now actually interviewing with us for a part time position over the summer, and we’re looking forward to next semester.


We partnered with UCL and the University of Greenwich to deliver six lectures.


Us and some of the students following a lecture at the University of Greenwich.

But even before our efforts for more outreach, we’ve been mentoring talent internally for years –

We hold Universities at lunchtime where we teach each other about different aspects of game development and the broader industry. To further build on our experience every Ape gets a yearly £1500 training budget, to spend however they see fit to develop their skill-set. We also hold monthly Ape Spaces, days dedicated to fostering creativity and brainstorming new game ideas as a company.

I wanted to take this chance to highlight just a few of our success stories within the company.


George Yao is the PM for one of our upcoming titles, which grew out of an Ape Space game jam.

Graduating with a Finance degree back in 2010, George never thought he would have the opportunity to work in the games industry.

“It wasn’t a thought that ever crossed my mind even though I grew up loving and playing games,” he says.

George didn’t just love playing, he held the Number 1 world rank in Clash of Clans for seven consecutive months.

“At the time, I didn’t understand the potential impact from pro-gaming. For me, I just played a game that I enjoyed and due to my competitive nature, I strived to be the best. After retiring from Clash of Clans, Simon Hade (COO) contacted me from a start-up mobile games studio out in London.”


George with a player from Team Secret, where he acts as Media Director.


You can find out more about George’s journey and his involvement with esports @JorgeYao87

After consulting for Space Ape for a few months, he was interviewed and officially hired for a full-time position as a VIP community manager. Alongside his career at Space Ape, George now manages pro esports team, Team Secret. 

“Being a self-starter and having strong mentorship from management, I became a Live Operations Manager within six months and a product manager and owner within two years. Space Ape not only opened the doors but also fostered my career growth every step of the way.”

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Vicki is the Vision Holder for one of our upcoming titles, also born out of an Ape Space game jam.

Vicki is a Lead Artist and Vision Holder for one of our new games. After she started as a 3D artist she was quickly exposed to game design, management, pitching and other areas of development.

“We are huge on our knowledge sharing culture, and with our density of talents Space Ape is a great place to learn and grow,” she says. “I’m always learning new things in the Universities we hold at lunch. I don’t think I would be as equipped to be a Lead Artist if I had gone anywhere else.”


Art from our first title Samurai Siege, and (above) art from our second game Rival Kingdoms.

Vicki found agency through working in a small team and set the artistic vision for one of our most promising new titles.

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Johnathan went from Games Analyst to Game Lead in two years.

Johnathan began his career at Space Ape as a Games Analyst, keeping his finger on the pulse of trends in the market.

“What’s really impressed me about Space Ape is their willingness to give people the opportunity to prove themselves in new roles. The training budget also allowed me to get the resources I needed to develop my skills. There is a strong culture of promoting from within and it’s a true meritocracy.”

Fast-forward two years and he’s now the Product Owner of one of our most successful titles.


Johnathan used his training budget to develop some of the skills required to become a PO.

“When I joined Space Ape having changed career, I never imagined I’d be running a game team just two years later! If you’re passionate and productive, they will make sure you get the opportunity to put your new skills into practise.”

I can think of a dozen other examples off the top of my head, from Alex and Ioannis who journeyed from QA to Product Owners, to Raul and Keedoong who started as CS agents and now head up entire departments in CS and Localisation.

From Pro-Gamer to Product Owner, George and his team are now getting ready to soft-launch his dream title, which was actually born out of an Ape Space game jam.

“As long as you have a long-term vision and the traits that embody the company culture, your goals will come to fruition,” he says.


Fore more info or to get involved with our Varsity Program:

I’ve watched my colleagues grow into various roles and thrive. I feel incredibly lucky to work in an environment that allows for, and encourages that kind of growth. I’m personally excited about using the talent we’ve fostered in-house to reach, build and hopefully inspire the talent waiting to be tapped in the wider community.