Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month - meet Eileen and TsanchihThree more talented Square Enix staffers share their thoughts on their experiences in the games industry, the importance of their heritage and the games that give them happy thoughts.
Over the last month, we’ve been talking to some of the amazing people here at Square Enix about their careers, favorite games, Asian heritage and more.
In our final installment in this series, we talk to two particularly inspiring people - Eileen Tan and Tsanchih Wu.
Eileen Tan, Senior Director, Head of Consumer Insights
How did you come to work at Square Enix?
The quote from Steve Jobs that “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward” has always resonated with me, because so many dots in my career didn’t really make sense until the next dot came along.
I started out on the media and research agency side, conducting primary and secondary research to guide brands. I loved the strategic side but always thought execution would be the most rewarding part of marketing. I was also really interested in this ‘new interactive marketing space’, so when I had the chance, I moved to Shopzilla (now Connexity), a network of online shopping search sites, helping them build online shopping and e-commerce experiences.
Through there I worked on everything from PR, corporate communications and events, to executing the company’s first direct to consumer activities, including campaigns to direct mail to email and loyalty programs.
Because of this experience, I was asked to join a small toy start up to build their CRM and e-store experience. From there I worked with a variety of start-ups across various facets of marketing and found that I was most inspired by projects that were actually back on the strategic side.
So when The Honest Company was looking for someone with research and e-commerce experience to establish its first Consumer Insights role, I leapt back into insights and haven’t looked back since.
After years getting to know moms, beauty, and babies, I received a phone call from Square Enix, which was looking for someone to build centralized Consumer Insights from the ground up.
I am so excited for this latest dot where I get to share my passion for insights and embark on this new adventure in gaming.
What do you like most about your role?
The best part of Consumer Insights is that you truly are the closest to your customers and it’s your role to advocate on behalf of them.
It’s especially rewarding knowing that the studies we do have direct impact on the key decisions the teams make across game and audience development. Plus, we know that being heard makes our gamers happy - carving an outlet for our company to receive their thoughts is especially rewarding.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work in the game industry?
As you can see from the ‘dots’ of my career, you truly never know what steps your career needs to take until you look backwards.
My piece of advice would be just to pursue your passions and what interests you and to always take the chance even if you think you may not qualify. You just may surprise yourself with the qualities that you bring to the table.
Personally, I always look for non-traditional qualities when building my team. It’s the uniqueness that makes you perfectly qualified to be you, and if your future boss/mentor/hiring manager doesn’t see that then it’s their loss.
What does your Asian heritage mean to you?
I’m ethnically Chinese but culturally Filipino. Both my parents were born and grew up in the Philippines since my grandparents fled from China during the revolution.
Growing up multi-Asian-American definitely added a unique dimension of adaptability to my personality - I never really fit in with one specific group, yet I somehow fit in with both. This sense of finding commonalities to celebrate has helped me create great friendships and team comradery.
I also find that so many of the values I bring to my personal and work life come from both sides of my Asian heritage. The hard-working ethics and perseverance expected in Chinese cultures has given me the courage, drive, and grit through the many roles I’ve taken on from childhood until now.
The appreciation for finding joys in life, welcoming attitude, and love of eating from my Filipino side has helped me to remember to enjoy even the mundane and put my heart in everything I do.
The commitment to family and community over individual from both cultures helps me keep an eye on ensuring that we succeed collectively as a team.
Overall, I think one of the best, and perhaps lesser known, things about Square Enix is that from east to west, we are truly a global company. It is amazing interacting with and celebrating the many cultures of all our regions across teammates and offices nearly every day!
What’s your favourite game of all time and why?
I'm more of a classic gamer, and truth be told probably more of a board game person (shh)! But if I had to pick, my favorite game would be a toss-up between Mario Kart and EA's SSX snowboarding game back in the day for PS2. It’s so fun to do tricks and act badass in ways that I never could in real life.
Tsanchih Wu, Internal Communications Lead / Project Manager, Square Enix Japan
How did you get your start at Square Enix?
I was born and raised in Taiwan, and I left my hometown to go to Japan when it came time for me to pursue a career. My previous work involved marketing-related contract work, and it just so happened that I would handle marketing tasks for Square Enix.
I’ve been a huge fan of the company since I was a student, and once I started getting involved with some of the work, the experience was so wonderful that I mustered the courage to knock on Square Enix’s door thinking, ‘I want to continue to work hard for you!’
What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
I’m proud of the Internal Communications program we started for our team last year.
As with many people around the world, 2020 was a challenging year for me. With the Coronavirus pandemic, all of Square Enix switched over to working from home, including the team in which I belong – the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE team.
Since the game’s development team is quite large in scale, it became difficult to adequately share information and follow up on development progress. So I used my previous experience in promotions to create an internal video channel, which would share the current status within the development. It’s very much like an ‘internal influencer’ who’s dedicated to the team.
To help mitigate the impact of team members being unable to meet in person, we compile a development status report, create videos that are easy to digest, and share it weekly to ensure everyone gets the information they need.
Being able to see the team running everything smoothly and feeling a sense of solidarity through all the progress we made in development, I was able to see the fruits of my labor. It made me very proud of what I did - overcoming a big challenge we faced in the current situation.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in a role like yours?
I think it would be good to have the ability to understand the people around you.
In order to make a game, you require developers for planning and game design of course, but supporting roles are very important as well. For example, in an adventurer’s party, you can’t go without some support who can heal or buff your party members, right?
In a role like mine, it’s important to provide the necessary support so the developers can concentrate on their work - if you’re able to constantly think about things like: ‘what do the developers want?” or ‘what can I do to make them happy?’ and take appropriate action, you can bring out their potential even further.
In order to gain that ability, it helps if you try to have more frequent communication with, and find ways to take care of the people near you. I believe building on the little things you do in your daily life is important.
What does representing Square Enix mean to you?
I feel a bit of pressure, but in a good way.
In Japan, there are many people who grew up playing games from Square Enix, but it’s beloved by a large number of gamers in my hometown in Taiwan as well. The majority of older Square Enix titles were not localized into Traditional Chinese, so many players would play with a dictionary in hand as they looked words up… and I was one of them.
There was a bit of a language barrier, but being moved to tears by a deep story is no different wherever you are in the world. (By the way, nowadays titles are almost always localized and even released simultaneously worldwide. I’m so happy to see that my title, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, is being played by many people in my hometown as well!)
While I’m happy to work Square Enix, where we deliver such emotional moments, it’s also true that there’s a pressure not to betray people’s expectations. I do feel that pressure, but my desire to increase the number of people moved by Square Enix games, just like I was in the past, is so much greater.
Finally, what’s your favorite game of all time?
That would be FINAL FANTASY X.
It was the first FINAL FANTASY title I played, and to me, it’s such a precious work of art. First, the story was the best. No matter how many years have gone by, or how many times I play it, I am still moved by it. The fantastical world setting and the poignant music were very memorable.
Massive thanks to Tsanchih and Eileen for speaking to us about their experiences.
And thanks once again to everyone who contributed to this series. We hope you found it interesting and inspiring. If you did, and you’re thinking of making a jump into the games industry - or just changing roles - you should check our careers pages for current opportunities.