We’re excited to announce Maxime Romano as our new Head of SIDE Paris and Head of Audio Localization! Though he has a vast range of experience in audio production and localization, we wanted to get to know him better as a person, so we’ve asked him a little about himself—from his background to the key things he has learned along his journey so far. Tell us about your background and what attracted you to a career in the games industry. Born in France, I moved to different parts of the country during my childhood and was pretty much a Lego-and-drawing kid. However, everything changed on my sixth birthday when my parents bought me a Game Boy with Tetris and Mario. I got passionate about gaming news as a teenager and gradually became interested in the people and industry behind games. Then, during my graduate studies, I realized there may be a path for me to get involved myself. What was your path to working in localization and audio production in video games? After my undergraduate degree, I felt a desire to understand other cultures better, which led me to enroll in an international business school. The program involved a two-year stay abroad, where I chose to live in Shanghai and had my first game industry experience interning at 2K China. It was enlightening to go behind the curtain and understand how complex it is to develop a game. Back in France, I interned at La Marque Rose, a specialized game localization provider for French. Every career aspect I had been pursuing became a reality, and it opened a new world to me with audio, acting, and voiceover. I worked for five years there as an Audio Project Manager until a “small” game came along: Starcraft II. We had a successful collaboration with Blizzard Entertainment, who happened to have a job opening for a French Audio-Visual Specialist. I decided to jump on it and switch companies, becoming the client of my former employer! It was a beautiful experience to continue working with friends in a team that put emphasis on quality at every level. As part of the global VO team, I coordinated with development, production, marketing, PR, community, and Esports, touching on many aspects of the business. My focus was on French, but other synergies often happened, such as recording ambiances of Parisian sounds for an in-game map. After my time at Blizzard, I ended up completing an MBA in Video Game Management at the IIM (Institut de l’internet et du multimedia), to which I am very grateful. This led me to pursue opportunities in game dev production within Ubisoft and Darewise, but in the end the call back to audio localization was too strong. After working at Keywords as Audio Production Supervisor, I’ve now joined PTW and SIDE as the head of our new Paris studio, while also contributing to the development of our audio localization services globally. Can you describe your role as Head of Studio for SIDE Paris and Head of Audio Localization? Do you see these as two separate roles, or do they go hand in hand? My role as Studio Head is to coordinate with all entities in the company to set up a production pipeline. This includes, for example, supporting the opening of the studio’s facilities, but also legal aspects like contracts with freelancers. There is also a marketing and business development aspect. On the other hand, as Head of Audio Localization, my mindset switches to PTW and SIDE’s global game localization services, which include Localization and Localization QA. It’s essential to keep in mind that all territories have their own, and sometimes unique, specificities. Maintaining a single vision across so many regions can be a challenge: you need to strike a balance between coordinating a team and letting individuals run with their own ideas. What is your vision and what are your hopes for SIDE Paris? The most crucial hope I have is to replicate SIDE’s vision and philosophy of quality for our studio in Paris. This is our key differentiator at SIDE, where our team is made up of diverse, talented, experienced individuals with many different professional backgrounds. The goal is to create that SIDE chemistry and continue putting together a talented team that will exceed our clients’ expectations for quality audio services. And this is where the Studio Head and Head of Audio Localization roles meet: with Paris, we are creating a structure beyond French localization to also support other languages and territories, with Audio Loc coordination being a core service offering. There are going to be synergies across every part of SIDE for production and beyond. When looking at SIDE’s history, many lessons were learned and applied along the way with SIDE LA and SIDE Shanghai, for instance. So as we set up SIDE Paris, we have an amazing opportunity to harness the experience of SIDE’s multiple branches and apply our best practices in this growing and changing global industry. You have over 10 years' experience in the games industry. What are some key things you learned along the way? And if you had to give your younger self some advice before starting in this industry, what would it be? This question resonates a lot with me—it’s something I think about almost every week when receiving students' questions and requests for advice! Know that it can be difficult to land your first job in the video game industry. It’s relatively small compared with other industries, but it has a huge fan base of passionate people and thus draws in a lot of freshly graduated students who would love, just like me years ago, to contribute to making the games they’re passionate about. In this context, the key lesson is that beyond passion, you need a very strong sense of perseverance, determination, and the will to constantly learn. The industry is rapidly changing with new technologies, needs, and jobs always popping up; 20 years ago, for example, Esports and community management as we know them today were almost nonexistent. Then again, because it’s a small industry, forging strong relationships is essential. I am constantly surprised at how easy it is to cross paths again with familiar faces! Just one example is my close friend and top French voice director Jean-Philippe Brière, who I met on day one at my first game industry job. We went on to work together throughout the years at La Marque Rose, and later at Keywords Studios. And though he will still work in TV and film, we are very lucky to share that he’ll now be working exclusively with SIDE Paris on games. So, in games, and especially in audio, most of our work is based on human relationships. While technology is at the heart of our work at SIDE, the most important aspect of our work is people: managing client relationships and working with everyone involved, from producers and engineers to voice directors and actors. The sophistication of the tech will continue to evolve, but the key to remaining on top of the industry will always be working together as a team. To sum up, I would give myself the same advice today as I would have when I started: stay hungry and stay foolish, it’s a great industry!