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Interview: Jamil Moledina, EA Partners

Recently, the HitPoints blog had the chance to visit with Jamil Moledina, Outreach Director of Business Development at EA Partners. We chat with him on a variety of topics, including his career, advice for gaming entrepreneurs, and his new sci-fi novel.

Mark Tanjutco, Blogger

October 7, 2010

7 Min Read

Mark Tanjutco:  Jamil, thanks for joining me on the HitPoints blog. I appreciate your spending a few minutes with me today.

Jamil Moledina:  My pleasure.

Mark:   For readers of my blog who might be unfamiliar with your background, can walk us through what it is you do now for EA and also walk through your career progression in the games industry prior to that? And talk about some of the reasons why you targeted the games industry as a place where you wanted to build your career?

Jamil:   I have always loved games. Some of my earliest memories are playing video games. And what really got to me about them was the fact that since you are in control, you are helping to tell the story. You are playing a very active and creative role in what's going on. I grew up with a lot of stories in my head and I was influenced by a lot of the great movies and books that were coming out in the ‘70s and ‘80s and they just drove me to think of my own stories. Video games are a great way to start play testing some of those story ideas. So it has always been an integral part of my growing up. 

I suppose I convinced myself that I needed a practical career; so I went to law school. And I practiced here in California in San Francisco for a bit. (At some point), I realized that I needed to do something a little bit more expressive. So I applied for writing jobs. Writing on journal was one of the most interesting things that I did while in law school. So I figured well I should apply for writing jobs in the game industry.

Game Developer Magazine and GDC

Jamil: And I got a job on Game Developer Magazine and before I knew it, I was editor‑in‑chief of the magazine and it was great fun. I had just an absolute blast being able to participate in the flow of thinking behind the scenes of the game industry. So it was just a phenomenal experience for me. And I had a lot of fun running the magazine as well.

It was something that gave me the chance to be very creative in terms of the look and feel of a particular product, tailoring its content so it fit, so it stayed current and was more relevant to people as the industry itself was rapidly evolving. So I enjoyed that immensely. And Game Developer magazine and the Game Developers Conference are both owned by the same company, UBM, United Business Media. As you know, (in the interest of) full disclosure, if (your blog) is being syndicated by Gamasutra: that's also part of UBM. 

The then senior vice president of our group made me an offer I couldn't refuse to work on GDC when my predecessor left. So, I thought about it and basically figured, it would be a similarly unique opportunity to get a little further inside the game industry. Because as a journalist, (you get) exposed to things about a few weeks or a few months before they go public.

I mean these are just amazing people, amazing experiences to have. So I had just an amazing time doing that. And of course, (I had) the chance over my five years doing that of meeting all the developers, all the incredibly creative and passionate people that make this industry work. That's something that I have been just continuously amazed and impressed with is just the sheer genuine authenticity of the people makes games. It's very fresh. It's very inviting. It's very honest. And it's something that I really thrive on.

EA Partners

Jamil: So after doing that for a bit, I happen to be having a conversation with some of the executives at EA, namely John Riccitielo, who has been a really good friend and supporter of the work we were doing on GDC. I kind of signaled that my interest was kind of moving away from being an event manager and trying to see what could work in terms of being inside the game industry. Because I think I'd “gone native” to a certain extent. I was seeing myself less as an event person and more as a game industry person.

One thing led to another and I met the team at EA Partners and we discovered that we were all kind of cut from the same cloth. We were all dedicated to these incredible talents in supporting what they do. (EA Partners) had such a strongly pro-creative and pro‑developers sentiment. I felt very much at home, something I wasn't truly expecting to find at a major Fortune 500 entertainment company. But there you have it.

So my job now is Outreach Director of Business Development which means that it's my job to manage all the pitches of original games that come into our group (In addition), one of the things I wanted to do when I started (was to work out a) plan for us to publish downloadable games on XBLA, PSN, and for PC.

Science Fiction

Mark:  You've mentioned science fiction a couple different times in the course of our conversation here and I was on your blog earlier this week and I noticed that you're writing pretty extensively about that. Again, you mentioned Asimov as someone that you would like to have met if he was still alive. Obviously, that's a huge influence or interest for you, outside the gaming sphere.

What are some of the other things that really inform your ability to be good at what you do within the games industry? The sci‑fi interest is one thing. Anything else?

Jamil:  Well, so you're hinting at the other huge thing going on in my life, which is that I have a science fiction novel coming out. It's based on several story ideas that I've had since I was a kid. My uncle gave me his copies of Dune and Foundation when I was really young and they really made an impact on me. And so, my first novel is coming out very shortly. It's set in the distant future. I don't think I can say too much about the plot as yet, but it does involve the main characters discovering a huge flaw in the universe and trying to do something about it. And, oh, the book is called Tearing the Sky.

Mark:  When did you say that was coming out?

Jamil:  We're still working on the cover art, but there'll be more information on jamilmoledina.com as soon as we have it.

Mark:  All right, great. OK, so that's one big interest outside of the industry and obviously you're trying to perhaps monetize that, or turn it into a business…

Jamil:  Well, it's more than that, it's a passion, it's something that…we have a limited amount of time on Earth to do the things that we think we can add value, and to me, there was a huge gap in the canon of science fiction literature. There's Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku and various astrophysicists today who are talking about extraordinary things in their books. Hawking talks about levels of…not just humans, but levels of civilizations of intelligent beings all the way up to civilizations that control energies on a galactic scale. 

Now, I can't help but think that if Asimov or Clarke were alive today, they would be writing amazing stories based on what we're discovering today. So, to me, that's a call to arms, that's something that is very important to what I want to express.

And besides that, there's two side benefits to my day job for having that focus. One is that, as I alluded to earlier, I'm that much more in tune and sympathetic to someone coming in to pitch their game idea to us. It's something that I absolutely directly relate to and try to make that as comfortable and receptive a process as possible.

The other thing is that my creative ego, to the extent that I have one, is wrapped up in this book. In my role as supporting the creative work of others…I'm not really interjecting my own creative thinking or my own creative needs into this process. This process exists to serve the best talent in the business, so both of these things coexist very nicely that way.


To read the full interview with Jamil, please visit the HitPoints blog at marktanjutco.com.

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