We get our news on phones, watch entertainment on phones, order food on phones, and play video games on phones. It makes a huge difference if you understand every level of the experience when it comes to mobile games, from user to programmer to producer; Rong Deng understands this better than most because she has lived this path. Besides her immense talent, Rong’s journey through these avenues of gaming has led to great success with her work at Gameloft and her present day venture into the arena of game design. Her track record proves that she’s a leading force in forward thinking video games and she’s bent on introducing exciting and unique games such as her latest offering dubbed “Aria Remake.” From her early work on games supporting major feature films to those of present day which redefine the goals of a video game, Rong Deng possesses a mind and perspective which challenges the industry and the course of its future.
It’s vital in any industry to perceive the changes that occur and be aware of trends; this evolves at hyper speed in the world of video games. When Gameloft was preparing the Despicable Me 2: Minion Rush Chinese Android Version|Mobile Game in conjunction with the release of the two-time Oscar Nominated film, Rong was the producer of the China localization team; this proved to be a precarious position due to a number of aspects. When the decision was made to release the film a month early, the schedule for the game was similarly advanced. However, most taxing was the fact that Chinese Android users’ behavior differed from other users globally because of hardware and internet limitations in addition to consumption habits. A solution was need to reorganize the game’s data structure and optimize the download-install-to-play experience. In addition to updating the UI system to highlight the Minion’s costumes and add a daily login reward system to increase users’ engagement, special features that highlighted event like the Spring Festival needed to be added. Coordinating with offices in France and Canada, and after receiving the stamp of approval from Illumination Entertainment, Ms. Deng and her team delivered the game to resounding success in China with more than 40 million downloads in the first 240 days, more than four times as many as iOS China previous to this. Despicable Me 2: Minion Rush Chinese Android Version was awarded the 2014 Best Offline Mobile Game Winner in Global Mobile Game Developer Conference. For Rong, it announced her abilities to a prestigious and intrigued group of international professionals in the mobile gaming industry.
The most effective leaders are those who understand and appreciate the perspective of those who work underneath them. It’s no secret that programmers who are not gamers are often written off by other programmers and the same can be said for producers who lack the experience of being a programmer themselves. In her first role as producer for Gameloft’s Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour JAVA, Rong’s years of experience as a programmer reinforced her willingness to bring the whole team together for suggestions about problems and solutions. She divulges, “My programmer mindset would always have me focusing on the design and fixing bugs, that’s understandable but a bit too conservative for a producer. I really leaned into trusting my team on this project and began to understand that a leader provides a healthy and warm space for everyone to express their thoughts and ideas. This atmosphere eventually guides everyone to a place where we can reach quality on time and within budget.”
Rong Deng attributes her professional evolution to the opportunities she received during her seven years at Gameloft. Ascending from valued programmer to senior leader, her work on thirteen of their most successful games and the establishment of the first live operation pipeline in Gameloft Chengdu is a legacy that endures for the company. In pursuit of her next professional iteration, Rong is developing a cutting edge game with a new team of collaborators titled “Aria Remake.” The game’s official description is as follows, “Set in the cold, deadly void of space, Aria is a story-based VR experience where you are placed in a pod to escape a catastrophic explosion on your spaceship. You must succeed in getting back to the Earth by flying to a space station and asking for help. The AI assistant, Aria, acts as your guide in activating and navigating your escape pod to its destination and your safe recovery.” The aim of the game is to impart to the user the massive impact one can have on the life of another. The emotional target is far more lofty than that of the heretofore common single person shooter games and is a strong indication that Rong has perceived an area lacking in today’s gaming world. Similarly unique is the game “Funky Dango” which Rong completed with her team. An exploratory narrative game about grief, “Funky Dango” is further confirmation that there are vast new avenues for gaming to explore and through which to benefit humanity. The imagination of Rong Deng seems to perceive vast and untapped directions for video gaming and she possesses the knowledge and skill to manifest these. It will be exciting to see what she creates next.
Writer: Arlen Gann