Echo – Mentoring Program Pilot

Echo – Mentoring Program Pilot

September 2021 – October 2022, Romania, Mexico, USA

With ECHO, we digitally connect mentors and mentees to provide accessible, safe, and thorough remote education. This mentoring program is created for young people, age between 16-24, looking to better understand the game development industry and start their first steps towards a job or a career.

The mentors are professionals from Romania, USA and Mexico, volunteers willing to help with valuable career insights, training for different types of skill sets, or offering industry-specific networking opportunities.

The Pilot. We wanted to better understand if high school students are interested in learning and developing the necessary skills for working in the game development industry.

First, we establish The Design of mentoring program: what fields of study are we going to have? what type of mentoring is better suited (formal, informal or something in between)? How and where will the mentoring partners meet? And a lot of other spicy questions we needed to tackle. But answering them and creating the proper structure went quite smooth as we had the help of industry professionals and the experience from other mentoring programs:
⦁ The mentoring program started in February, connecting 11 game dev mentors to high school students (age 15-18).
⦁ Both mentors & mentees went through an onboarding process.
⦁ Each mentor created his personalised curriculum.
⦁ The disciplines (studying fields): Game Production, Game Design, Game Art, Quality Assurance.
⦁ During the program, feedback was gathered from feedback surveys and 1:1 meetings between Arden representatives, mentors and mentees.
⦁ 3 mentees have successfully finish the program and one of them developed his first game in Unity.

Although the Pilot was estimated to last between 6 to 8 months (depending on the field), one mentoring relationship has already been successfully completed after 3 months, according to his mentor: “The mentee was very involved, he took part in all of our meetings, always completed his assignments and was very eager to learn”

Learning and Development. Most mentees chose Game Art, followed by, Game Design, QA and Game Production. As their main goal was gaining knowledge in the selected field. The mentoring objectives established at the beginning of the program varied across mentor partners based on the field chosen, the level of expertise of the mentees and their needs for development; thus, the number of sessions differed (stretching the program between 3 to 9 months). Some of the recurring mentoring objectives were finishing personal projects, building portfolios, learning about the process of creating a game.

Based on the discussions we had with the participants, the mentees were thrilled to discovered, guided by their mentors, the different processes in creating a game. “I finally understand what game art means”, one mentee told us.
The mentees gained a better understanding of the difference between the fields and roles involved in developing video games and how this differs from their outside perspectives; most of the mentees confused game design with game art.

As a solution we created ArtZ in Gaming – an education project that shines some light on the jobs & roles of artists in the industry.
Thanks to their mentors, the mentees became more aware of their interests and strengths. Don’t just believe us, here some testimonials:

‘In between deciding to become an artist/designer/programmer and actually becoming one there is a Death Valley. A place of uncertainty, doubt, and wandering in the dark as well as a lot of hard work and sweat. Most of the people will never cross it. Either because they lose fate in themselves or get tiered of working and not getting a result. Or because they didn't invest themselves enough into it. And it is extremely important in this period to have a supportive and knowledgeable guide. A person who've crossed it before, can answer all the question and show a clear path. That's what my mentor was doing for me, and I'm giving it forward in a structured-digital way thanks to ECHO.’

Anastasia Ionicioiu - Level Designer Mentor

‘Everything is going great with my mentee, it's actually even better than I expected! Although just a couple of sessions have passed so far, I can already see how much value this program brings to the industry, and what a huge impact it could have if it were scaled globally. I was a little skeptical at first, but now I'm completely on board. Awesome job with this project, I think it's going help a lot the next generation of game devs.’

Vlad Petre - Lead Level Designer Mentor

Being part of the Arden mentorship program can be challenging sometimes, but is nonetheless a great honor and a fulfilling experience. I was fortunate enough to be matched with a mentee that shared my enthusiasm regarding the initiative and was eager to learn anything and everything about the gaming industry. My initial concerns about the methods and the ways I could teach someone about the multitude of skills needed in the QA discipline were quickly dissipated with the help of the Arden Romania team, who provided support not only for the mentees but also for the mentors. I managed to share not only the fundamental skills of QA, but also some core values. The mentorship started feeling more and more like an internship and the goal set for the mentee evolved from getting to know the gaming industry into an actual interview for a QA position. I am looking forward to the next challenge and I am eager to help someone else in taking their first steps in the gaming industry, or consolidate their career.

Alexandru Padure - Game Producer Mentor

‘The Echo mentoring program helped me understand the games I play much better, helping me create my own ideas. I never knew how these games were built and how much work had to be done for every detail to be perfect and intuitive for the player. I learned elements of game and level design in practical ways, analyzing known games as GTA V and doing my own projects, with the help of a very friendly and dedicated mentor. It's much easier to understand the science behind games in a digital world, using Echo.’

Clelia, Mentee - Bucharest, Romania

‘So far, this mentoring program has offered me the opportunity to learn more about the field I have chosen, and I want to thank the team of this project for helping me discover a new career path.’

Dragos, Mentee - Iasi, Romania

‘Thanks to Echo, I have managed to get what I always wanted: to be guided in Game Design, knowing that the games I played meant everything to me, and I would also like to make games that would inspire another generation of children. Thanks to Echo and my mentor, I discovered how creative I am.’

Ioana, Mentee - Bucharest, Romania

At the beginning of the program, game development seemed like something unattainable, a dream. However, this program showed me that the dream was closer than I expected. With hard work I moved forward and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity I had,  to learn so much about this field. After completing the mentoring program I can say it was super cool. Actually it was AMAZIIING! I’ve learned so many new things, and got to know some very creative and hard working people. It was a life changing opportunity and I especially send a gigantic THANK YOU! to my mentor, Scott, who guided me through so many areas of game development and shared with me a lot of precious information.

Eduard Scobioală, Mentee - Timisoara, Romania

‘When I first found out about Echo, I was amazed: a place where students interested in video games can find mentors and embark on special journeys to discovery, all for free. It seemed like a dream come true, and it certainly lived up to my expectations. With the help of this innovative project, I can say not only that I have gained more knowledge about this new field in a pleasant and welcoming environment, but I have also grown personally. I had the opportunity to see on my own what it was like to make my own schedule, communicate with new people, and create a study routine that would most likely help me in the future, either for school or for work. or just for everyday life! I truly believe that this project has the potential to help people around the world

Teodora, Mentee - Bucharest, Romania

For those looking to better understand the game development industry & start your first steps towards a job or a career we have an awesome mentoring program.
Follow the link  to the ECHO FORM, fill out the form and we’ll send you more details.
This Mentoring Program is a project by Arden with the support of RGDA and Amber.