Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month – meet Tracy, Michael and Tommy | Square Enix Blog

A company is only as good as its people, and Square Enix is blessed to work with so many that are amazing.

We employ people from all over the world, with a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, all of whom work tirelessly to bring you amazing games, books, merch and more. For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we wanted to highlight just some of the people who make this company what it is.

They talk about their heritage, their careers in the games industry, and what Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month means to them.

Tracy Wong - Senior Manager, Marketing

How did you get started in the games industry?

My first foray into the gaming industry was actually via the toy space. I moved to Los Angeles to work on the action figure line for Overwatch and quickly became fascinated by the industry.

I loved the energy of the fans and the rich storytelling embedded in the characters and narrative world of the game. I was also drawn to the continued growth of the established titles and their development into global entertainment franchises - it felt like an industry blazing a new path in fan engagement.

Were there any challenges that you had to overcome as an Asian American?

Earlier in my career, I found it hard to find role models and mentors with backgrounds like mine or who looked like me.

Without AAPI representation at more senior levels, it was difficult to imagine growing into a leadership position at any of these companies, because it seemed like an exclusive club where I would never be accepted.

Luckily the Square Enix team in LA is diverse and full of AAPI talent at all levels.

What advice do you have for people who want to enter the industry?

Don’t be intimidated! Gaming may seem like an exclusive community where you have to be an expert to work in the industry, but as long as you’re passionate about your functional skillset and how it can apply to gaming - go for it!

The gaming industry is changing and evolving. We want more people with outside experience and perspective so that we can continue to grow both the community and industry.

What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?

If I’m being truly honest, I wish we didn’t have to designate a month to celebrate specific cultures. I love learning about other perspectives and histories that are different to mine, so I take any opportunity to celebrate Asian cultures and customs outside of my own.

How can others support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community?

For me, it’s about making room for people who look like me to have a voice and a seat at the table.

Even as recently as in my parents’ generation, Asians were seen as people who just put their heads down and worked without asking questions - we were rarely seen as leaders. This silence stemmed from a very real fear of saying something that could be misinterpreted or misunderstood because, for many of us, English is our second language.

Today, there are so many of us from all different backgrounds with fresh points of view and we need to continue to champion diversity. We all have opinions on how to move gaming forward and should be part of the conversation.

Do you have a role model or has there been anyone who influenced you to get into gaming industry?

My two biggest cheerleaders as I was thinking about going into the gaming industry were Andrea Hopelain (SVP Brand, EA Sports and Racing at Electronic Arts) and Ashlee Vaughn (Sr. Director, Marketing - Consumer Product Marketing at Activision Blizzard).

They were incredibly supportive and showed me how I could apply my marketing skillset from consumer goods to gaming.

How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

I feel lucky that I grew up with traditional Chinese customs while also having the experiences of an average American teenager. Co-existing in these two worlds made me hungry to learn and understand cultures outside of my own.

I also think being Chinese is why I love food so much - it always come back to food for me. The first thing my mom asks me when I visit is, “Are you hungry?” and “Have you eaten?” It comes from such a place of care and love and to this day, I love cooking for and feeding my friends and family.

Michael Somerville - Senior Manager, Business Intelligence

How did you get started in the games industry?

Funnily enough, I started in this industry over a decade ago as a Japanese translator for Square Enix.

I graduated not too long after the Lehman collapse to find few job opportunities where I could apply my math degree. Since I spoke Japanese at home growing up thanks to my mother’s heritage, I decided to respond to a Craigslist ad seeking a translator: this turned out to be a contract position at Square Enix.

Just over a month later, I would go on to fill the position of a departing business intelligence analyst in my department. After about a year as a contract analyst, I became a full-time employee of Square Enix, which I still am today!

What advice do you have for people looking to enter the industry?

Be brave! It doesn’t cost anything to look up job openings at companies you’d like to work for, and there’s no need to feel intimidated by job descriptions and requirements. I can attest to the fact that the best connections can happen in the most unexpected ways.

How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

My heritage is the most important thing that defines who I am. As a child, I loathed having to spend all day at Japanese language school every Saturday (not to mention all the extra homework that they would give us!), but I look back on it as the best decision that my parents made for me.

The language skills that I learned there helped me get my career started, as I mentioned earlier, and I hope that the discipline, work ethic, and mindfulness I was taught have allowed me to repay the company - even in the slightest - for taking a chance on me.

And I cannot describe my heritage without mentioning my father, who grew up in a rural university town on the east coast of Australia and taught me the importance of thinking analytically and standing firm on my values (or in other words, being frugal).

Tommy Koo – Marketing Manager, Social Media

How did you get started in the games industry?

I started at a “little” company known as BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment. It was honestly a mixture of luck and good timing, but I consider myself extremely lucky to have landed on such a great team full of amazing people.

Starting as a contractor, I transitioned to a full time role on Product and Production and then made the jump over to Marketing, where I’m still at today.

Were there any challenges that you had to overcome as an Asian American or Pacific Islander?

Not in particular, but I think this may have been part of the good luck of being part of companies that took inclusion seriously and tried to foster an open and welcoming environment amongst all the employees.

What advice do you have for people looking to enter the industry?

Having dreamt of being in the video game industry, don’t forget that just like any other job - this is still a business and not everything is branded swag and free food.

Honestly though, I think it’s a matter of finding out what you both enjoy and are good at and doing your absolute best to highlight and sell it. That and don’t have a three-page long resume.

What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?

In general, I think it’s cool seeing more people of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage take on leading roles in society.

Movies tend to be the more recent example with the success of Shang-Chi and Everything Everywhere All at Once, but it’s honestly just cool seeing more diversity in all parts of everyday life.

So even though having a whole month dedicated to celebrating Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is fantastic, I think it’s just as amazing to see a celebration of AAPI throughout the year.

How can others support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community?

Listen, be open, and talk!

Do you have a role model or has there been anyone who influenced you to get into the games industry?

My dear friend Mason who not only shared his work experiences with me but let me experience them in-person even before I got into the industry.

For my role models, I have to shout out my previous managers Tony and Katrina for their care, guidance, and dealing with all my questions.

Many thanks to Tracy, Michael and Tommy for their thoughts.

Join us on the Square Enix Blog next week to hear insights from three more super-talented members of the Square Enix team. And if you’re interested in working here with us too, take Tracy’s advice: don’t be intimidated, and make sure you check out our careers pages.

Author: Gamer/ Source