THE GAME REVIEWS: We are here with Omar Woodley, an Assistant Producer for Localization at Sega of America. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
OMAR WOODLEY: I graduated with an Art Degree. When I found it challenging to survive as an artist, I began working in retail and went forward from there. After working in HR operations as a manager for five years at a retail chain, I got burnt out and decided to do something creative. I still wanted to work in management, except in the gaming industry. I also wanted to do concept art for a while, interviewing with many different companies, including: Blizzard, Vivendi, EA, Obsidian and a couple of others. Though I did have some good interviews, I did not receive any solid offers.
When I relocated, I went to work with EA in Quality Assurance. I worked on “From Russia with Love,” and “The Godfather: The Game.” I really enjoyed working there, and many of the contractors wound up coming to Sega. As production assistant, in a temporary contract position, I showed them my management portfolio and résumé. I worked for six months, on “Soccer Manager,” “Sonic Riders,” and “Crush.” After launching those games successfully with no problems, I was promoted. I have handled all of the UK and Euro titles for localizations.
THE GAME REVIEWS: What has been the most exciting project that you’ve work on?
OMAR WOODLEY: “The Club” is definitely the turning point for my career, because it was a mature title and I was able to incorporate shooting in the game play. Working on “Crush” was the most enjoyable; it is a very cool game and has won a few “Best PSP Game” awards. Unfortunately, it did not succeed in sales, but it was still a very cool experience to work on it. I usually don’t play puzzle games at all; however, I really enjoyed “Crush.” Overall, I would say that “The Club” and “Crush” were the best projects I’ve worked on so far.
THE GAME REVIEWS: What are your responsibilities as an Assistant Producer for Localization at Sega?
OMAR WOODLEY: After new ideas and concepts are proposed to Sega of Europe, those of interest are sent to us for review. The ideas that we decide are worthwhile are then negotiated with the studios, to see if we can work out an agreement. Europe is the leading developing territory. We then work on the U.S. marketing, since games in the UK don’t necessarily sell in the U.S. (which is the same for games produced in Japan). We have a lot of input as to how the games will be presented, as to the character’s look, and how the levels will be seen.
After those issues are resolved, the developers begin building the game. We continue to work together with the developers on the content of the game. It is kind of a weird system, but it works well. There is a substantial amount of critiquing during the process, so that a game is produced that will sell well in both territories.
THE GAME REVIEWS: Do you handle much of the analysis of the games being developed?
OMAR WOODLEY: I do a lot of everything, including analysis, concepts creation, and marketing. I also handle much of the PR, and management of the quality assurance teams, to ensure that they’re on track with testing, and that the game is stable, and solid. I work to ensure that the quality of the game meets shipping standards. I also work with the PR and marketing departments so that the advertising is on schedule, by supplying them with what they need. For example, I see that code is available to distribute to the public for previews. There is a lot of management, as well as creativity, in the work that I do.
THE GAME REVIEWS: Can you give us a few tips on how someone might get into the field doing something similar to what you do, as well as breaking into the gaming industry business?
OMAR WOODLEY: The easiest way to get into the gaming industry is probably through quality assurance. With the right level of commitment and heart, a person may be able to work his or her way up, within as little as a year or three to four years. It definitely helps to have a business background. With a creative mind and a business degree, a person could begin in production, and from there, work toward being a producer.
THE GAME REVIEWS: Thank you. What is your favorite game of all time?
OMAR WOODLEY: I don’t really have a favorite game of all time. I would say my top three currently would have to be “Oblivion,” “Halo,” and “The Club.”
THE GAME REVIEWS: Which system are you partial to: 360, PS3 or Wii?
OMAR WOODLEY: All of the above. I’m a producer; I have to have all of them.
THE GAME REVIEWS: You don’t have a preference of one system over another?
OMAR WOODLEY: No preferences.
THE GAME REVIEWS: Thank you very much for your time, Omar.
OMAR WOODLEY: You’re welcome.