2024 is poised to be our biggest and most exciting year yet at 31st Union, and we are all energized for the adventures that lie ahead. Maintaining a high degree of flexibility in our development model, we boast a large and diverse group of developers spanning North America and Europe. While our flexibility is a key strength, our greatest achievements occur when we come together, fostering connections, collaboration, and allowing friendships to flourish.
In January, we had the perfect opportunity to unite our local and remote employees during Togetherness Week, a significant initiative at 31st Union. The week was amazing, offering a perfect blend of fun activities and focused work to bring our game vision to life.
In celebrating the diversity of our fantastic global team, we are thrilled to spotlight Xema Martinez, one of our invaluable leaders from 31U Valencia. A seasoned development manager at our studio, Xema's journey in the gaming industry is both unique and inspiring. Within the studio, his vibrant personality shines through as he showcases our artists' work, helping teammates feel both inspired and recognized. Xema has wholeheartedly embraced the 31U rallying cry to bring fun, inspiration, and awe not only to our lives but also to our community.
What inspired you to go into video game development?
I have been a gamer since before this word was officially used to describe people who play games. When I was a kid, I would rather spend time on my Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis) than playing outside. I often told my parents that I would be playing games for work when I was an adult. In the summer of 2008 (at the age of 25) I decided to go to Dublin, Ireland to learn English. I didn’t do much preparation for the trip, and I also underestimated the price differences between countries. As a result, the money I had with me was not enough to rent a room AND to take English lessons, so I had to look for a job. While looking for a job such as a kitchen porter or cook’s assistant in Spanish restaurants (my English at that time was non-existent), I came across a job description for Spanish Game Tester at Vivendi Games. I had the interview and somehow got the job. Ever since then, my career has been focused entirely on the games industry. I have worked at several studios in roles such as Localization Tester, QA, Test Lead, Project Manager, Producer and now as a Dev Manager at 31st Union.
What surprised you about video game development?
Even though it is a huge industry, it is also a small industry. Every new studio I go to, there is someone I know from a previous company, or a friend of a friend, or someone who worked at the same companies as me but at a different time. Besides that, the bonds you make with some teammates after working on a project for a long time are some of the strongest bonds I have seen.
How have video games influenced your life?
To start with, my professional career has been focused on video games since 2008, so that’s a full sixteen years. After getting my first job in Dublin, I have lived in four other cities in two different countries because that’s where I found subsequent jobs, so my whole life has been influenced by this industry. And the main reason for this was that I was passionate about videogames, and I jumped without a safety net when I saw the Spanish Game Tester job posting back in 2008.
Are there any current trends in gaming that you find exciting or inspiring?
I am very intrigued by how AI will influence and affect the gaming industry in the coming years.
What is unique about 31st Union compared to the broader industry?
Many game studios rely on crunch as their first solution when deadlines are around the corner. At 31st Union, we really appreciate work-life balance. Crunch is never on the list of solutions. 31st Union really cares about their employees, and we are really a “welcome all” studio.
Which of our Studio Values most resonates with you?
THRIVE ON TRUST: I am a Dev Manager. I am not the one creating the lines of code or making the assets players will see in the final game. I am a shepherd, helping the team to reach a common goal and to realize their whole potential. I trust the team to provide real data that will help me create better estimates and plans.
What is your favorite game? What do you love about it?
Like many other gamers, I am not sure I can say that just one game is my favorite game. Theme Park was my favorite when I was a kid, followed by Rollercoaster Tycoon and then Planet Coaster. But I have many other games in my list that could be fighting for the top spot like Red Dead Redemption (1 and 2), XCOM 2, the Civilization series, Final Fantasy VIII (especially for the card game), Grandia… the list is huge! I am mainly interested in tycoon games, RPG games (with old school turn-based combat) and turn-based strategy games. I like to enjoy the games by myself at a slow pace, and that’s why I prefer single player games.
Tell us something about yourself that many people do not know about you.
I like writing. It has been a while since I tried writing anything. Maybe a new year’s goal could be to resume my writing habit and possibly finish the story I have wanted to tell for many years.
WE ARE HIRING!
We are seeking passionate and talented collaborators to join our team! If you’d like to hear more about our studio, the team, and the opportunity to help shape our culture and creative vision, please connect with us at https://www.linkedin.com/company/31st-union-official/
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