I Moved Halfway Across the World, Ran into a Pandemic and it Turned Out Great!
By Sohini Maiti, Game Designer

The way I see it, you only have so many years to explore the world, so if a wild opportunity appears, why not take it? I left the familiar noise and crowds of India behind and moved to a quiet, green Slovenia. But I wasn’t expecting to be greeted by a pandemic lockdown!

OK, so maybe that makes it sound a little more rash than it was. It’s not like I suddenly decided to pack my bags and leave one day – I always wanted to experience life in Europe, but I also had a great situation in India and a job with one of the biggest game studios. Then Outfit7 came along and it felt like the right opportunity for me.

When I applied for the game designer position at Outfit7’s Ekipa2 subsidiary in Ljubljana, I was already familiar with Talking Tom but didn’t know that much about the company itself. The thing that stood out was the colorful people, stories, and overall fun vibe on their LinkedIn and web page. I applied because I kind of felt like I would regret it if I didn’t at least try to learn a bit more about this company that somehow managed to get twice as many game downloads as there are people on the planet.

After I had my first interview call, I was convinced I wanted to be part of this team. So with quite a few butterflies in my stomach, I decided to move halfway across the world. However, it took about four months before I managed to get my Visa fully processed and finally start working for Outfit7. The support I got during this process proved to me that these people were as invested in me as I was in joining them in Slovenia. When I finally moved to Ljubljana, I felt like I already had friends waiting for me.

Maxime is now my manager, but even before we officially started working together, he became my mentor. He was always there for me if I had any questions about the work or the team. Another person that helped me a lot is Špela from HR, who made sure my relocation was as stress-free as possible. It was a long and tedious process to get an EU visa in India. But Špela handled all of that, as well as making my travel arrangements, giving me tips for the move and getting me a temporary apartment for when I came over. The biggest thing for me, though, wasn’t that she and Maxime handled everything, but that we were constantly in touch and they put a lot of effort into keeping me in the loop. It’s much easier to move to a new country when the people really want you there too, and care about how you feel about it!

When I finally sorted everything out in my old home and flew over to my new one in Ljubljana, I was so excited to meet all my other teammates. I had waited for this moment for months! But literally, the day after I moved here, Slovenia declared a country-wide quarantine due to the Coronavirus epidemic. That was a very unwelcome reminder that life is not, in fact, a fairytale. My awesome new social life where I would make dozens of new friends would have to wait. And instead of going to work in a cool new office, I found myself doing video conferences from my temporary apartment.

It was far from the start I was hoping for. Reading materials online and communicating through messages and video is a lot different than working next to your teammates and immersing yourself in the environment. I had to learn a lot of new things, get up to speed with Outfit7’s processes, and get familiar with new tools. But I still had all my onboarding workshops (online), all the resources I needed for my work were waiting for me already and Maxime was super helpful to get me up to speed. So while it was a bit harder and definitely not as fun to get started this way, I managed to make it work. By the time I came to the offices for our in-person Bootcamp for newcomers, I felt like I knew everyone already, even though we had only seen each other through cameras.

In terms of the actual work, it’s a match made in heaven. I’m working as a game designer on our next big innovation in virtual pets, which is exactly what I signed up for. One of the big reasons why I chose Outfit7 was that they make virtual pets, which I am a fan of but didn’t get to work on before and that they make games for a diverse audience. In my career, I mostly worked on games targeted at older women and wanted to try something different.

My role is quite diverse – I helped design some of the core features that make the foundation of the game, but I also work on building side features like mini-games and live-ops events we’re adding to the game. But I would say the main thing that makes working here awesome (and different from my previous stops) is that I get to be involved in the creation of a new game from start to finish and I’m included in all stages of production

All in all, getting up to speed on the work and settling into my professional role on the team went pretty well, considering it happened during a pandemic. The social aspect of moving to Ljubljana has been where the quarantine and the whole Corona situation impacted me more. But my manager and the rest of my teammates helped a lot, made sure I met as many people as possible under the circumstances, and arranged activities for us to do together. I also bonded with another Indian game designer on the team, Ishan, who showed me around town and explained a lot of things about the local culture and customs. So while I wouldn’t say it was easy for me, my teammates made sure it all worked out as well as possible, under the circumstances.

Now that the situation has relaxed, I’m starting to realize I actually got everything I hoped for. The work is great and the more people I meet, the more I realize I didn’t just get lucky with Maxime and Špela during my onboarding – everyone here is that nice and helpful! Living in Slovenia is turning out to be exactly the European experience I wanted. It’s hard to describe how quiet and peaceful it is here if you’re used to the big cities in India. There are no crowds, you can get everywhere really fast (I actually ride a bike to work sometimes!), nature and green areas are everywhere and there’s zero pollution in the air. I’m a little worried about the cold and snow in the winter, but hey, I got through a pandemic straight off the plane, so the way I see it it’s just upwards from here. And besides, new experiences are why I chose this adventure in the first place!