Girls in the Video Game Industry #3: Paula Wong

July 8, 2010 at 5:36 am | Posted in Girls in the Video Game Industry interview series | 19 Comments
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I’ve been hoping for a while now that PopCap would make more Plants vs. Zombies merchandise… after all, there are so many cute characters to choose from that would make for awesome figurines, stuffed animals, stickers, etc. Heck, even Crazy Dave and his Magic Taco would make a good plushie, don’t you think? And if it’s anywhere near as well-designed and creative as some of the swag that’s been coming out of Popcap’s Creative Labs, then rest assured I will be doing my best to collect a complete set.

Girls in the Video Game Industry #2: Paula Wong
Senior Director of Creative Labs at PopCap Games

If you’ve played around with the Zombatar, seen the eye-catching Plants vs. Zombies retail boxes, or gotten your hands on a can of “Brain Ooze,” then you already know a bit about the creative and interesting things Paula has worked on during her time at PopCap Games.

1.) Can you tell us a bit about your job?

I lead the marketing creative team at PopCap Games. We bring the awesome games our studio creates to market. We’re a team of 20 print, web and video designers, copywriters and account managers. Most of us are based in Seattle; two are in Dublin and two in Shanghai. We develop all the retail packaging, marketing materials, ads, video and the creative for our partners and for PopCap.com, where we feature our games.

2.) How did you get into the video game industry?

I was recruited by Dave Roberts, our CEO at PopCap, four years ago. I told him that I wasn’t a gamer and he just smiled and handed me some PopCap games to play…

3.) What are some of your favorite games?

Peggle, Bejeweled Blitz, Bookworm, and of course, Plants vs. Zombies!

4.) What were some of your favorite projects to work on and why?

I find it thrilling to go to a national retailer and see a whole line-up of our retail products, side by side. We have an amazing shelf presence and that has helped contribute to a successful retail business. Since this is a direct result of my group’s work, it makes me super proud! It was also outrageously fun to work on Plants vs. Zombies marketing projects. I was part of the team that suggested and promoted the idea of a Zombatar—a Zombie avatar creator. Everything that we did for Plants vs. Zombies was so full of personality and quirkiness. Irreverence and silliness went into everything we did for PvZ, from the “no zombies” stickers, to energy producing sunflower seed packets, a Brain Ooze drink, Zombie Temp Worker videos and creating a party invitation with Zombie handwriting that printers were instructed to fold “poorly” as if it came from Zombies.

5.) What are your thoughts on being a female in the video game industry?

When I first started at PopCap, there were perhaps 5 women, out of 75 total employees. Women are definitely in the minority, but our percentage has grown. PopCap’s casual games are immensely popular with women. I foresee our numbers increasing in the video game industry as well as customer base and believe there will be better gender balance in the future. I love that I’ve gotten to be a bit of a pioneer in this industry.

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  1. That is like the coolest job ever! It sounds like you guys have so much fun. I think you did a great job with the Plants vs Zombies box design because my friend actually bought it after seeing a big zombie head on the shelf at Target. Go Paula!

    • That’s so cool ^_^ If she doesn’t see your comment I’ll be sure to let her know that! I also remember noticing the big zombie head when we were walking around Target and Walmart… I think they did a spectacular job with that.

      • Hey, glad to hear that the big zombie head worked! PvZ was so fun to work on. Working on anything for PvZ always makes us laugh because we try to think like Zombies. Everyone should try to do that!

  2. Man . . . I really enjoy reading this blog. I actually have a soft spot for these kinds of companies, usually gaming ones, I really want to know, does it make work really enjoyable? It seems quite interesting how you describe your work at Popcap! Anyway, kudos to you Paula, hope you continue enjoying your job at Popcap!

    Btw, has anyone actually drank the Brain Ooze? I haven’t😦 What does it taste like?🙂

    • Btw, has anyone actually drank the Brain Ooze? I haven’t What does it taste like?

      Although we have a few cans of it, I’ve never tried it. If I had to guess though, I’d imagine it would taste a bit like Red Bull😛

      • It’s drinkable, and I’ve hoarded about 4 cans, don’t tell anyone though. I do that when I think the packaging is cool. If all else fails, I have a stash of Brain Ooze.

  3. Hey shigi, I really love your music – you are really talented. My favourite ever vgm was by Koji Kondo – dire dire docks from super mario 64. Whats yours? And I read in one of your interviews that you played starcraft! what was your favourite civ?

    My favourite piece of music from plants vs zombies was this song : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFqQGqLmej8

    its the music when you are on a final level of a stage! It freaking rocks!!!!!

    Can you do a perform it on the piano please?? I am sure everyone will love it! its easily the best track on there!! The pool level music and dr.zomboss were also wicked tracks.

    Thank you so much and keep up the good work

    Milan

    ps I also play the piano, and yes i can play some vgm – i can play songs from mario 64 and zelda.

    • Hi Milan, thanks for your comment… hmm, that’s a tough question! I don’t think I can pick just one… but some of my favorite VGM tracks: From Chrono Cross – Time’s Scar, Dream Bordering the Shore of Another World, Star-Stealing Girl, Time of the Dreamwatch… From Megaman 5: Wave Man, Protoman’s stage, Gyro Man… From Megaman 3: Hard Man, Magnet Man… From Little Nemo: the final boss battle, From Chip N Dale’s RR: the final stage… From FF-games: Coin Song, Road to Zanarkand, Kaze no Ne (Crystal Chronicles), Suteki da Ne (FFX)… From Chrono Trigger: Belthasar’s theme, Schala’s theme, Kingdom of Zeal… From Secret of Mana: the 3rd Flammie theme, Dyluck’s theme, the Mana boss and battle theme… I like the Darkwing Duck music too, but I can’t remember the particular stages that they’re from. Oh, and Tor’s theme from Iji.

      Haha, there are more too, but I probably shouldn’t try to name them all, haha😛 Ahh… I have been trying to make a piano version of Ultimate Battle since it’s probably the most requested piece. I can play the melody with chords, but it’s challenging to try and make it sound good on the piano since it’s really a piece that has many things going on in the arrangement. But I’ll keep trying!

  4. I am a big fan of PopCap and the Paula Wong!
    She is the coolest!!!
    Plants vs Zombies are such a popular game among my son’s friends.
    We definitely can use more merchandise.
    Fans a re waiting out there!!!

  5. The Paula Wong is, indeed, the coolest.
    I’ve had the privilege of working with her at PopCap for the last 3+ years, and I can say that I’ve never met a more creative, positive, and happy person in our industry. She is a glowing sunflower; bringing us sunshine to fight the zombies of our work-a-day lives.

  6. Paula is one of the most amazing people I have the privilege to know. The fact that she is a force in her industry is an inspiration to not only women, but all of her peers.

    Go, Paula!

  7. Hi Paula. Your job sounds awesome. I was wondering if I could ask a follow up question. I have some friends who want to get into marketing but the more creative side similar to what you seem to be in charge of. What kind of education or jobs did you pursue that you think helped you find your way to this kind of career?

    • Hi Nojh,

      I went to art school (Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle) and worked as a graphic designer, art director and creative director before coming to PopCap. One could also pursue marketing or creative writing as well. Hope that helps.

      Paula

  8. Another girl in the video game industry here! Lead Sound/Composer at Cadillac Jack (video slot machines). Love all the sounds in PvZ and was thrilled to see they were done by a girl! I bragged to all the guys in the design group!

    Best,
    laura

    • Hi Laura! Thank-you for your comment, it’s always great to hear from other female composers out there🙂

  9. Hi~
    Thanks so much for doing this interview, Laura! It’s always interesting for gamers (and non-gamers) to get to know the staff behind the games more. Reading this makes me want to work for PopCap, haha.

    I would agree that if a line of merchandise do get released, I’d definitely save up for them!

    • Look out for the collectible Zombie figurine in the new Plants vs. Zombies Game of the Year Limited Edition. It will be hitting retailer shelves in mid-August.

      • Ahhh! That is so cool!!🙂 George hasn’t mentioned this to me yet, so I’m not sure if he even knows about it. I’m sure he’s going to be really excited about it though!

        • That’s indeed awesome!!😀 I can’t wait to see that on shelves!


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