Our Engineering Lead, Matt, joined our team last year from the US. After 12 months working with us in London, he recently moved back home to Pennsylvania. Now, he shares his incredibly organised home office with his husband, Caleb, and his cats.
Matt has played a major role in the development and success of our current project, FUN with Ruby Rei. He’s passionate about his work and has a deep love for game design and mechanics.
Let’s see what he has to say!
Matt, you’ve just celebrated your one-year anniversary at Wibbu. Congratulations! Do you remember what first grabbed your attention when you came across the job application?
Yeah, thanks! I can’t believe it’s been a year already.
Well, we live in a small rural area in Pennsylvania, and development positions are pretty scarce. So I had taken a web applications developer job, but I really wanted to get back into game development as I had been away from it since moving from Austin, TX in 2017.
Caleb and I are hoping to adopt soon, so I was also looking for an opening that would allow me to work remotely. That way, I would be able to stay at home with our child once we do.
On top of being able to accomplish all of the above, I knew the job at Wibbu would provide me with an opportunity to apply two of my greater passions: game design/development and language learning.
Why were you interested in working in EdTech?
The primary point of interest was being able to apply game design and mechanics to education in new ways that create a more fun, engaging, and natural experience for learners of all ages. I’ve seen some great examples recently of innovative applications of mixing digital and physical products. I believe that mix has great potential in education, so the prospect of working for a company beginning to look into things like that was very enticing.
You’ve recently moved back home to work from Pennsylvania. How have you found the transition to remote working?
A remote position was one of Caleb and my major goals before adopting so I am quite happy. I get to do what I love (design and program) as a career while having the benefit of being home to take care of personal life and family.
There are challenges to working remotely, of course, and it certainly takes some discipline and adjustment. Also, our two cats now seem to insist on receiving attention at this very moment.
In general though, I feel very supported by the company. We are offered opportunities and encouraged to become members of local co-working spaces where we can meet wonderful and interesting people who are experiencing all the same successes and challenges that we face as a small business.
What do you like most about working at Wibbu?
I think that the best part about working for Wibbu is having the opportunity to work with such talented and unique people in an open and collaborative environment. As a small company, we all often have to work together on various tasks and projects that might be outside of our individual comfort levels and experience. This provides amazing opportunities for learning and personal growth, which is what I believe Wibbu is really all about at its core.
The company is also very mindful of mental health and takes steps to prevent problems like burnout by providing opportunities for professional development and fun events like hackathons.
You’ve been working on FUN with Ruby Rei, a language-learning game for 9-11 year olds. We’d love to hear about your own experiences with language learning.
I’ve had some experience with three different languages: French, Spanish, and German.
I studied French for two semesters in high school and found it quite fun to learn and speak. That was the first time that I felt I had a propensity for language learning. Unfortunately, I didn’t continue my French education so I’m back to pure basics on that one.
I began learning Spanish as a college student in Kansas City, and I believe I found it easier than French. During that time, I traveled to Spain, where I studied at the University of Granada for four months. It was really great being immersed in the language. I believe that the best way to learn a language is always to go and live in a country where it is spoken for an extended period.
My journey with German has just started quite recently with a five week intensive course that I took in London last Fall as part of Wibbu’s initiative to provide language training to its employees. It was a great introduction and really got me excited to continue learning. I’m currently enrolled in an online course and I am looking forward to an opportunity to visit Germany toward the end of this year.
You love digital games, physical games and everything in between. What are some of your favourite games?
Wow, tough question! There are so many good games out there. I think I’d have to go for mentioning my favorite game genres rather than specific games.
Where video games are concerned, I typically love real-time strategy (RTS) games. I enjoy their mechanics, which typically involve managing some sort of resource(s) and economy, and being able to strategize and plan in all sorts of different ways depending on the game.
My definite passion and interest lies in the indie space. These are really intelligent and talented people who are creating beautiful, really fun and unique games. As an indie myself, I like to design and develop games that engage, enlighten, and enchant players. I enjoy driving, shooting, and sports games as much as the next person, but I want to create games that make a player think and stretch their limits a bit.
For tabletop games, I also tend to stick with strategy games, particularly abstract strategy. The first tabletop game that I have designed, New Beeginnings, really plays to these interests and passions as it, itself, is an abstract strategy game with mechanics based heavily on factual beehavior (see what I did there? :-P).
What are you most looking forward to in 2020?
I’m always excited for the potential opportunities that a new year can bring. There is usually so much positive energy as people reevaluate their goals and ambitions a bit, and you never know where life will take you.
I’m looking forward to seeing where life takes me in 2020. With a bright future at Wibbu in sight, a loving husband and family, and potentially a baby on the way, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.
Elisa, Head of Educational Content