Louise is the MD of DinoByte Labs, a small London-based company that specialises in gaming. A games producer, Louise Leolin focuses on creating games with the gamers as her main priority. She makes sure that the games are tailored to what the gamers want, whilst also offering game design consultancy. Louise Leolin balances her roles as games producer and project manager, which as she says – can involve about a million individual tasks, but her passion is in the designing of games. Her favourite element of her role is in concepting and UX design. When she’s not designing games, she confesses that she will most likely be found listening to kpop, eating doughnuts, playing character driven games; or perhaps all three simultaneously! I was drawn to interviewing Louise Leolin, as I saw that she continued to be shortlisted in inspirational lists of young British female entrepreneurs destined for big things. Her company, DinoByte Labs are currently running a Kickstarter campaign for their next big game, and I strongly recommend you go and check it out here. Please enjoy my interview with the talented Louise Leolin…
How do you describe your occupation?
The short version is to say I’m a managing director and game producer, but really my job involves so much more. Being an indie developer on a small team means you will always be doing a lot outside of your main role, so when I am not working on developing games (which stretches from design and research to making assets and bug testing) I also do things like company admin, marketing, social media management, video production and pretty much anything else which the company needs doing!
Talk us through a typical day for you…
Our studio is not super well known yet, so each day I work on our social media outreach to spread the word about what we are working on and to get our name on people’s minds. Aside from that my days are always extremely varied, which is what I love most about my job! Sometimes we are in the conceptual phase of a game which means a lot of brainstorming sessions where the walls are covered in post-it notes, other days I get to just spend on research which is a fancy way to say I sit and play as many games as possible while taking notes. Aside from that, some of my favourite work days involve paper prototyping and playtesting, character design, marketing strategy and player research, and any day we make a video for our Youtube/Twitch is always a blast.
We are in a pretty hectic time with our game Midli up on Kickstarter, so for the past month, I haven’t had any long breaks where I can really get into a good book. At times like these, I prefer to pick up a comic instead since they are good for a short 15 minutes here and there. Right now I just started The Batgirl of Burnside series by Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart which I am loving, as well as Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake by Natasha Allegri .
Can you remember the first book you read by yourself?
I had to ask my mother about this, as I learned to read around the age of 4 or 5, it’s a bit hard to remember. She said the first book I read on my own was When the Robbers Came to Cardamom Town by Thorbjørn Egner, which is a classic Norwegian children’s book.
Are you a page folder or a bookmarker?
I’m guilty of page folding! Honestly, I love it when books look like they have ACTUALLY been read. Plus sometimes I fold pages on parts of the book with really great lines or moments, so I can go back and re-read them later.
When did you fall in love with reading?
I’ve loved books as long as I can remember. My elementary school was very focused on its reading program, and we had a lot of great incentives to read, where you’d gain points for each book you read, which you later could exchange for things like beanie babies (yes I am a 90’s kid). This made reading like a game for me, and it never felt like a chore or homework, I just loved getting immersed in stories!
What are perfect reading conditions for you?
I love reading outside, so bringing a good book and some snacks to Regents Park sounds like a perfect day to me.
If you are going to work in games you really need to read Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming by Yasmin B. Kafai. It really challenges some of the very outdated ideas about who gamers are, and what you should be thinking about when designing for your audience. Another book that really changed me as a designer is The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. I’d be willing to argue that this is a book for almost anyone working with clients or users regardless of their industry of work. It teaches you so much about how people’s minds work and why we like certain things more than others. It’s hard to sum up into words, but it really holds the key to the success of brands like Apple (Where Norman developed many of his ideas).
If you could invite 5 authors (dead or alive) to a dinner party – who would they be and why?
Jane Austen has been a hero of mine since my teen years, as a woman who really fought against the stereotypes of her time. I’d also love to invite William Shakespeare, mainly to uncover the mystery of WHO he actually was, since there are debatable theories on that. David Gaider is my favourite game writer, formerly having been lead writer for the Dragon Age series, and he has written some amazing novels expanding on the world the game is set in. JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling are also a must since I am a huge nerd for their works!
What was the last book you purchased, and why did you buy it?
The latest Game of Thrones book, A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin. I am really trying to catch up with that series, but since they are so long, I sometimes end up listening to the audiobook versions while I work.
What is your favourite thing about reading?
I love when a book really succeeds at making me feel like I am the character I am reading about. My favourite thing is having that emotional connection to characters and really getting to understand a way of thinking outside of my own. I think it’s the same thing I love about games, where you get to take on the role of the character you play as and live their life for a moment.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
I haven’t read anything great other than the comics I mentioned earlier.
I am the biggest fan of Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, so of course, I have to say I’d want to live in that world, attend Hogwarts (I’m a Slytherin by the way) and experience the magical world JK Rowling created.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
I grew up with the American Girl series of books. They have both fiction and non-fiction books, and It’s such a wonderful series with great empowering life lessons for young girls. Some of my favourites follow the stories of girls all from different backgrounds and historical settings. I especially loved Felicity, from the Revolutionary War period, and Kirsten, a Scandinavian immigrant from the Pioneer times. Looking back it’s one of the biggest reasons that I see representation and diversity as such an important issue within games. Being able to read or play as characters which you can see yourself in, is so important for developing your identity and feeling empowered.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is a book that I have an inexplicable deep connection to. Of course, I love the book, but it seems to follow me throughout my life as a source of creative inspiration in so much of what I do, from our game Midli, back to my high school dissertation.
Which book sat on your shelf are you most excited about reading next and why?
I’m really excited to finally read BioShock: Rapture by John Shirley. It explores the pre-story one of my favourite games Bioshock and it’s been on my reading list for years, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.