Getting paid to game: Expats share their experiences working in the Czech gaming industry

Gaming companies are playing a vital role in Czechia’s IT boom. We spoke to a few of the foreign employees at Wargaming, a leader in the industry.

William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 07.09.2023 17:00:00 (updated on 11.09.2023) Reading time: 8 minutes

The Czech video game industry is a national success story that often goes unsung. The development of the industry demonstrates the strength of the nation’s tech capabilities and its adoption of digital tools, with employees and turnover doubling in the past five years alone.

An impressive talent pool has encouraged international leaders to choose Prague as a base for their operations. Among the global giants tapping into Czech video gaming expertise is Wargaming, responsible for hugely popular online multiplayer games such as World of Tanks and World of Warships. spoke to three leading lights of Wargaming’s Czech operations to find out more about life working at the company’s Prague center, the role of game development within the wider IT community, and how gaming can provide a remedy for social alienation in the digital age.

What's it like to work for a gaming-industry leader in Prague?

The Czech video game industry benefits from an exceptionally international working environment, with expat workers playing a major role. At Wargaming, foreign workers have the opportunity to thrive while working on popular games such as World of Warships.

According to Christian Bergmann, Wargaming’s Regional Publishing Director for World of Warships, “the company provides not only a very welcoming and supportive workplace, but also many activities that make it easier for expats to settle in, make friends and connect.”

Christian describes his experience as an expat worker as “very positive.”

“I moved in 2016 from Germany to Paris to start my career in this industry, not knowing a single word of French,” he explains.

“I really appreciated the help from Wargaming to deal with all the bureaucracy and the daunting task of finding a new apartment, while having such a fantastic, multicultural, open-minded work environment. In Prague, our office has an outstanding mix, with 260 employees from over 30 different nationalities working in the same building, brought together by a shared passion for creating outstanding video games.”

Christian goes on to say that gaming industry as a whole is one of the best sectors for expats to work. “Because there’s such a strong need for regional expertise covering vastly different European cultures, languages and perspectives,” he says.

Laine Whitaker, Wargaming’s History and Mechanics Specialist, Player Interactions for World of Warships: Legends, available on consoles, has also found life as an expat working in the Czech game industry to be positive.

“My experience as an expat moving to work for Wargaming had a couple of phases. First, I moved from the U.S. to work in Cyprus for a year and a half, before transferring to Prague. I’ve found the experience rewarding, as the opportunities for activities, travel and cuisine are so varied,” he explains.

The international nature of the gaming industry in Czechia presents exciting opportunities for foreign workers. Christian describes how this works in real terms.

“Career advancement and opportunities are fundamental values at Wargaming. But then I suppose this is something that many company managers would claim! So, let me illustrate this with a great example: my own personal story.”

“When I joined Wargaming in 2016 in Paris, I started in an entry-level position, later taking over my first team management position in 2017 for a German-speaking community team. In 2018, our product team relocated to Prague, and I advanced step-by-step to my Director-level position in 2022.”

“This attitude and opportunity to grow is one of the reasons why a lot of our employees have been with Wargaming for many years,” Christian continues.

Good night or good morning?

While providing strong opportunities for personal advancement, Wargaming’s Prague base also has a global impact. This creates a varied, dynamic working environment in which employees’ tasks can span continents and different time zones.

Dealing with player interactions for World of Warships, Laine’s working life is truly international.

“My responsibilities within the community team have a North America focus, so I often start my workday at 10 a.m. in order to interact with some of our American players at the end of my day,” he explains.

“There is a 24/7 element to the job; players can message me with questions or issues at any time of day from around the world. We sometimes schedule events in the dead of night, live streaming into the small hours when it’s not clear whether you should say ‘good night’ or ‘good morning’!”

Outreach and IT community

The thriving Czech gaming industry is built on a strong foundation of IT expertise that’s cemented by a real sense of community among developers.

As Laine points out, “the Czech gaming scene is very active. I meet and run into developers working for other companies casually in the city and at events. There are also regular networking events such as Game Beer that bring together people interested in meeting other developers in Prague.” 

Wargaming takes its role within this community seriously, dedicating time and effort to getting more people interested in game development and fostering the next generation of talent.

“As one of the largest gaming offices in Czechia, we’re dedicated to helping connect people in the industry with those who want to work in this field,” says Christian.

One example of this attitude is Wargaming’s XP Boost events, which bring together dozens of professionals with curious members of the public for informative presentations, entertainment and socializing.

Our XP Boost events are a great example of how to merge the networking aspect with knowledge-sharing from experts in various disciplines,” says Christian. “They’re easy to join; just sign up on LinkedIn or Facebook and then join us to learn more and ask your questions about working in this field. My number one piece of advice? Ask professionals what they did before working in the gaming industry; you’ll be surprised by the vastly different backgrounds you’ll hear about!”

“The video game industry has grown to become a leading entertainment sector but it can often seem very far away as a place to work,” Christian adds. “That was certainly the case for me; I have two left hands when it comes to programming, and I never considered work in gaming to be a realistic option.”

“It’s the same story in Czech society as a whole. A report by Deloitte on video gaming in Czechia in 2022 found that 83 percent of Czech citizens are aware of video games and 35 percent engage with them on a commercial basis, but it’s often difficult to understand how to actually transition into a career in gaming. Many paths are available, but our education systems sometimes struggle to keep up with the realities of the digital jobs market.”

“That’s why we endeavor to build bridges and provide opportunities for those interested in learning more about how to turn the dream of working with video games into reality,” Christian concludes.

Debunking myths about gaming

According to Arnaud Drocourt, Public Relations Manager at Wargaming, the demographic mix of those interested in games such as World of Warships is broad. “The classic image of a video game player is generally a teenager. But many people forget that video games have been played more and more since they first appeared 50 years ago!”

World of Warships is, in fact, a good example of gaming’s broad appeal across social groups.

“Due to the setting of our game representing naval battles, as well as the pace of the gameplay, our typical player is around 40 years old. They might like to play a few battles after work for stress relief, for example,” Arnaud explains.

“Others come for the careful recreations of 650 ships that we have modeled according to archival materials and the wider historical settings for the game. Still more come for the fun of sailing with these steel giants along with their friends and the challenge of the tactical planning that the game requires.”

Why video games matter

World of Warships owes its great success to its unique combination of visual appeal, historical interest and immersive gameplay. Yet there’s another key factor too; online interaction with other players fosters a sense of connectivity at a time of increased social alienation for many.

Laine describes how “World of Warships and Wargaming have an essential tie to real historical topics and culturally significant military vehicles. Nothing bonds people together like passionate arguments over ‘USS Iowa versus Yamato’, gritty details of naval design, or finding the next most-absurd naval blueprint! There’s something about historical military vehicles and equipment that brings extremely passionate people together to discuss and debate.”

For Laine personally, the interactive nature of online video gaming is an important form of social connection. “Gaming plays an essential role for me as an expat. I maintain connections to home and friends abroad through gaming regularly. Time zones can be troublesome, so it’s vital to schedule a gaming time with your close friends and family and commit to it.”

Arnaud describes as an “misconception” the idea that video games “are not social, that they’re isolating and do not provide anything teachable or of value.”

“This couldn’t be further from the truth,” he explains. “Games such as World of Warships and World of Tanks encourage social engagement. As massive multiplayer online platforms, players from around the world can play with their friends, make new connections and engage in healthy competition.” What’s more, the scale of World of Warships’ popularity allows Wargaming to engage in charitable activities combating loneliness and poor mental health around the world. 

In this context, it’s no surprise that the love of gaming unites the highly diverse Wargaming workplace.

“Most of us who work in this industry feel a strong affinity for video gaming, and this joy connects many people inside and outside our company. Most of the teams working on our product are passionate captains in World of Warships and play the game both at work and in their free time on a daily or at least a weekly basis,” says Christian.

“I have personally played over 15,000 battles in our game over the past seven years and I still love to play, even though I have less time for it now than I used to,” he adds.

“But in my team at work, it comes as a requirement! Everybody has to play the game on a regular basis during working hours. It’s important to know our own product in order to fully understand the game, our audience and the potential for the future. It’s only about 1 hour of gaming per day on average, but it's one of the best things about the job – where else can you play video games as part of your official work?”

This article was written in cooperation with the Wargaming Prague s.r.o.. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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