Our teams at Jam City consist of some of the most talented, creative, and passionate people in the industry. Jam Citizens are truly the magic behind our games. We’re excited to spotlight those who make Jam City such a special place, and showcase some of the most important teams in our global studios.
Located in the heart and capital of Colombia, our Bogota studio team consists of the talented programmers, artists, and designers behind our hit game World War Doh and our new web3 experience, Champions: Ascension. Today we’ll hear from the Bogota studio’s Co-GM and Creative Director, on his journey to Jam City and his long-time aspirations of launching a career in gaming after a successful run in advertising. Let’s welcome Jairo to our Jam Citizen spotlight series.
Let’s get to know you! What is your name and how long have you been a part of Jam City?
My name is Jairo Nieto (he/him) and I have been with Jam City since 2018.
What is your role at Jam City and what are you currently working on?
I am the Co-General Manager (GM) of our Bogota Studio and also the studio’s Creative Director. We’re currently partnering with our Toronto studio at Jam City on our newest game, Champions: Ascension.
Before we begin, tell us a little bit about how your career in the gaming industry began? What made you want to work in mobile games?
I’ve always dreamt of working in games. But when I graduated high school, it was as realistic as wanting to become an astronaut (being in Colombia and all). So I went into advertising and creative writing and spent a large part of my initial career there. Whenever I had the chance to work on an advergame, I would immediately jump on it. Always hanging on to the dream of one day working in gaming.
One day, Alejandro Gonzalez (our Co-GM), whom I had worked alongside in the past in certain ad campaigns, and respected immensely, told me he wanted to build a game studio. A mobile game studio. And he wanted to build it with me. The rest is history,
Let’s talk about your current project a little bit. Tell us about the inspiration behind Champions: Ascension.
When I sat down with our SVP of Creative Development, Johnny Casamassina, he shared an original vision that was truly inspiring. I easily saw how our Bogota team could take that seed and help create a world around it. Building this over the top mythos was right up our alley. We wanted to do justice to the original vision and looked into a lot of ancient mythology to help build on top of the already strong foundation we had.
I also had to watch Gladiator again. A lot.
Not many people may be familiar with the Creative Director and Co-GM role. Tell us a little bit more about this. What would you say is the most challenging part of your role?
Remaining confident and knowing when not to be overconfident. I’ve always thought that creativity is ideas with practice, and genius is creativity with confidence. There are a lot of unknowns in our line of work, and many external variables that are sometimes out of our control. Walking that fine line between knowing when to push forward and knowing when to change course, is one of the greatest challenges I face daily in my role.
What is your favorite part of your role?
This might sound a little trite, but it really is the fact that I get to work with very talented people. There is no better feeling in the world than to have someone on your team produce something that is so awesome that you just can’t wait to add it to whatever you’re building.
Before joining Jam City, both Alejandro Gonzalez (Co-General Manager of our Bogota studio) and I had to wear (too) many hats. It prevented us from focusing on doing what we did best, and I really like the fact that there’s this great broader team we can rely on to take really ambitious swings as creatives and developers.
What inspires you in your role as a Co-General Manager and Creative Director?
I love talking to my team. I love the fact that we’ve been working together for so long that we work with ease, that we understand each other perfectly, and that we are as passionate about games as it can get. We love what we do.
And probably as important, I love that everyone on my team is always up for a good laugh. All of our meetings are funny and witty, you can always expect to chuckle at some point. Most of the time, you come out of our meetings energized.
It can often be challenging to stay creatively inspired in a fast changing industry. How do you stay creative and motivated?
I have a lifelong battery inside of me of wanting to tell stories and build fun things. I just know that I will always be doing this. I think I am very fortunate in that regard. Having a passion like that and being able to make it my livelihood. Having a family just makes it easier. I want to create things that make my daughters smile, or be proud of their Dad.
Let’s reflect a little on your career and story. What is the best career lesson you’ve learned so far?
My mentor used to tell me that a great Creative Director does not have the best ideas, but is able to find them in the room.
I now think he was wrong. The best Creative Director is the one that is able to execute them.
What keeps you inspired outside of work?
Pwning n00bs in MOBAs and MMO Battlegrounds. Also my daughters and family. Maybe I should have led with that.
What advice do you have for those interested in getting into your field of work or the industry in general?
Just build games. Do the tutorials, enroll into every Global Game Jam, go to every IGDA (International Game Developers Associate) event, build bad games, build good games and realize later on that they were bad, then build again. Share your ideas, don’t let them rot in your phone’s notes app. And one day you’ll realize, you actually are getting kind of good at this game development thing.
What’s your secret talent?
I’m a really good competitive support player!
Anything else you’d like to share with us and those reading?
I truly believe making games is one of the hardest jobs out there. You not only have to build good software (in time and in budget), but the software has to be super fun. Once you get into developing games, everything else will seem dull. Be prepared to fall in love hard. And be prepared to have your heart broken a little too.
Thank you to Jairo for taking the time to chat with us! If you’re interested in learning more about open roles on our teams here at Jam City, be sure to check our careers page and follow us on LinkedIn for the most up to date recruiting news and announcements.