31st Union

In Focus: 31st Union Development Manager Andrei Mocanu

Est. Read Time4 minutes, 27 seconds

June has been a bustling month for us at 31st Union. From the excitement of our Summer 2024 Togetherness Week, which brought local and remote team members together to connect and collaborate, to the creative burst of our recent Game Jam, our studio has been a den of energy and innovation. And, as we celebrate Pride Month, our commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace has never been stronger.

During all this activity, we had the pleasure of talking with Andrei Mocanu, one of our talented Development Managers based in our state-of-the-art Valencia, Spain location. Andrei’s role is pivotal in shaping the worlds we create and ensuring the seamless collaboration of our diverse team. When he’s not at his desk, you’ll find him with camera in hand, capturing beautiful images around Valencia and beyond. Join us as we dive into Andrei’s story.

31U | Developer Profile - Andrei Mocanu - article

What inspired you to go into video game development?

In the fourth grade, I took an MS-DOS course and at the end of each class we were allowed to play Lotus: The Ultimate Challenge. It was a huge leap for me, moving from Battle City on a Dendy console to this, and I was completely entranced. Years later, while taking the bus for the first time towards the university, I noticed a certain game company and thought: “This is where I want to be and work.” It took me 3 years to gather the courage to apply, but I made it from the first interview. I found it fascinating that I was allowed to enter this creative world and understand how to make it possible to interact with pixels on a screen.

What surprised you about video game development?

The sheer scale of it! Also the passion, the creativity, and the number of different departments and job families that are required to produce a game. It is such a unique industry and the most diverse from the perspective of the number of roles required. I mean, where else can you find artists, programmers, managers, accountants, lawyers, advisors, actors, testers, audio-visual experts, marketing and PR specialists, analysts, human resources, customer and administrative support, all working on one amazing product?

How have video games influenced your life?

It will sound cliché, but I really do owe it to video games where and who I am today. When I took my first job as a junior game tester, I had no clue where it would lead me. In the more than 10 years since then, I have lived in 4 countries, worked in 4 studios on 15 projects, and found my significant other through all of it.

For many, games are simply a way to pass the time. For me, games are an escape from reality and a fun, non-judgmental way to train a lot of day-to-day skills. For example, you could be learning a new language, increasing your mobility through VR games, improving your reflexes in fast-paced situations, or improving your critical thinking when having to decide which path is best.

You can learn a lot from playing a game, because it was made by others who poured their experiences and ideas and hearts into it. In a manner of speaking, a video game can be seen as a gateway to the soul of a creative group of minds, and honestly, can you find anything else more inspiring and exciting?

What is unique about 31st Union compared to the broader industry?

The sheer perseverance of everyone involved. Having been in the industry for more than a decade, and having worked at multiple studios, this is what I can say is unique about us: Too many times, I have seen people struggle with motivation and then quit far too easily. But not here! I see a fire in my teammates’ eyes to succeed and make it happen no matter what the challenges might be. At 31U, everything is a process to get better, be better, strive for better. You might find obstacles at every step along the way, but without having an ideal to strive for, it is very difficult to make it out there. I think this is something lacking in general nowadays and I, for one, am glad to be here.

Which of our Studio Values most resonates with you?

“Cut Diamonds” easily, by far! My motto is a quote from George Bernard Shaw: “You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?’” To me, these two are a perfect fit and encapsulate all the studio values. To reach a certain level of quality, you need to trust the people you work with; for that you need to embrace one and all and give them a purpose – a goal so great that it is close to impossible to reach, unless you are driven with a passion to reach it. To take a rough stone to a diamond, you need a touch of refinement in what you do, a pinch of imagination in the lines you draw, and a healthy dose of realism that you alone cannot succeed. You need a team!

What is your favorite game? What do you love about it?

Tough choice as there are so many. In the late 1990s and 2000s, I would have picked Heroes of Might and Magic III. Later I would have thought of Mafia. Now, I am playing Overwatch 2, Star Wars: Jedi Survivor and Far Cry 6 the most. Looking back, though, I must say that Spec Ops: The Line takes the top spot for me. I just don’t think there is another game that captured a narrative so well. At the end, you are left with questions that make you wonder and doubt things. Not to mention that it is one of the few games that feels relevant given the present-day world situation.

Tell us something about yourself that many people do not know about you.

I dabble in about six languages, and photography is my biggest hobby. Video games took me through a few countries and exposed me to different languages and cultures. I left Romania in 2017 and went to Ukraine, France, and now Spain. It feels amazing to learn at least a few words and phrases in different languages that allow you to have day-to-day interactions and be a small part of each new society and lifestyle. English has always felt like a second (if not primary) language since I was four years old, and I learned some Italian through my parents as well.

In 2016, I got my first camera (Nikon D3300) and it quickly became my go-to partner for any city walk or travel destination. It is a fun and lightweight camera that allowed me to learn a lot about the medium of photography. A few years later, I switched to a more advanced camera – Fujifilm X-T4 – with which I currently explore the macro world, and I am always on the lookout for new photography friends.