This week I was featured as Zynga’s Employee Spotlight. Here’s the deets and my favourite cheesy picture of me (circa Command & Conquer 3 🙂 .)
I’m pleased to introduce you to Nina Dobner, the employee in this week’s Zynga Spotlight who has spent the last 20 years in the video games industry. From Nina before she joined Zynga: “I wondered what the hell these “social games” were, so I started playing Mafia Wars for research. When I was about level 240, I realized I wasn’t “researching” any more. I was playing. Obsessively. Even after an 11 year stint at EA, this was the first time I have been this engrossed in a game!” Nina has always been very passionate about the people she has encountered here at Zynga…“I am lucky enough to know a lot of people at this company, and boy are we smart. I have worked at big companies before, but we have some talent HERE!”
Nina also realizes that service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth! She is truly passionate about a cause which helps girls in Guatemala with education. The town is called Chichicastenango which is located in the El Quiché department of Guatemala and is known for its traditional K’iche’ Maya culture. Having personally visited these girls in Guatemala, she is hoping that YOU can simply donate this great cause (more below on question 16).
Nina has made an impact at Zynga and he is certainly someone we are proud to have in the Zynga family!
The Zynga Spotlight
Nina Dobner – Chief of Staff, CCO division
- 1. What brought you to Zynga and what did you do before?
I have worked in the video game industry for 20 years. I wondered what the hell these “social games” were, so I started playing Mafia Wars for research. When I was about level 240, I realized I wasn’t “researching” any more. I was playing. Obsessively. Even after an 11 year stint at EA, this was the first time I have been this engrossed in a game. I needed to be part of it. (Before that, I wrote children’s stories for Dorling Kindersley, and before that I was a lexicographer at OUP. Don’t bet me on the definition of a word. I won $1000 just this week on one 😉
- 2. What is your favorite thing about working at Zynga? (Other than the free food.)
The people. I am lucky enough to know a lot of people at this company, and boy are we smart. I have worked at big companies before, but we have some talent HERE!
- 3. Ok, now go ahead and talk about the free food. What’s your favorite perk at Zynga? Any perks you’d like to see us add?
I am a vegetarian, and I love that Zynga even caters for us. I do miss the acupuncture, but I hear that the massage is great. I am going to try that next.
- 4. What do you want to see from Zynga in the next year?
I want the market and our families to know that not everything you read in the press is true. Gamastruta and TechCrunch? They are US Weekly for us tech people. Sure, I love to read the gossip about my ex-friends and colleagues as much as the next person, but I want everyone to realize we have a real business here. I want to see Zynga lead not follow, expand our audience, win on mobile, own out our own gaming platform. And without a word of b*llshit, I think we are poised to do those things. It is up to us now. When Mark says “be your own CEO”, he means it. Every person in this company can inflect Zynga.
- 5. What’s been your favorite moment thus far at Zynga?
This is such a selfish one, but it has to be when we privately hired out the Rockefeller ice-skating rink to celebrate the success of FrontierVille. It was the week that they lit the tree in NY. The rink was surrounded by mounted policeman and thousands of people. Every time anyone (and by anyone I mostly mean “me”) fell over, the entire “audience” would hoot and laugh and catcall. SO COOL!!
- 6. Imagine I’m your mom. I know it’s weird, but how would you describe what you do at Zynga to her?
I tell her to imagine I am a wedding coordinator. I try and make people who want the same thing (a beautiful wedding) agree on the details – in the World of games entertainment.
- 7. Dog person or cat person? If dog person, do you have a favorite dog at Zynga? If cat person, please name your favorite fictional cat character.
I love both. I used to breed ocicats. They are spotted silver cats that think they are dogs. They fetch, they heel. I would definitely have another. But right now, I really want a scrappy mutt dog.
- 8. What’s your favorite story you’ve either heard/experienced about Zynga games or players?
To be personal again, I am an English girl living in America. I am back in touch with my (English) godparents, who live in Australia, because of Farmville. I am good friends with my (London) cousin’s best friend, because of Mafia Wars. I have never met him! This continues to be cool to me. We are changing the World.
- 9. What’s something that people don’t know about you/what’s a secret skill of yours?
Hmm, well I already admitted the dictionaries. Anyone that is facebook friends with me knows I love to cook…. Um… I’m a life guard. That is pretty lame, isn’t it? (I was figuring the cherry stalk thing wouldn’t fly 😉
- 10. If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive who would it be?
I have had dinner with a couple of my idols, actually (Michael Caine FOREVER!) so I keep having to add new ones. David Attenborough is up there, but my current obsession is Lana Del Rey. How did she get to be that cool so young?
- 11. What would you do if I gave you anything right now? What would it be?
Wow – okay what _I_ want right now, is too personal to ask for. But what I want from YOU right now… see the charity section below.
- 12. Fill in the blank: When you are not at Zynga, you’re ______.
Skydiving, diving, drinking, cooking, riding my motorcycle. Anything rather than sitting on my a*s 🙂 .
- 13. What is your favorite game? (Zynga or non-Zynga)
Bubble Safari on the computer, Scramble on my phone. Cards Against Humanity (which is Apples to Apples for horrible people!)
- 14. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
- 15. What profession other than yours would you NOT like?
Bank Clerk. Anything 9-5 and non- creative. Actually, anywhere I can’t wear jeans to work.
- 16. What charity do you support?
So this is where I would love some help. I am PASSIONATE about this cause. Check out www.mayacrew.org. This is an organization that helps girls in Guatemala with education. They have graduated thousands of children in the past few years. And this year they are short of their yearly target. I have actually been to Chichicastenango. The trickle-down effect they are creating is changing an entire region. If only a few of you read this far and can donate even $10, it would make a huge difference. (Remember, Zynga will match you donation right here: http://zyngaorg.yourcause.com/. You will need to search for them via their EIN number: 651259289). I don’t want to bore people that aren’t interested, but if you want to know why I think this is worth your lunch money, please ping me personally. I would be happy to talk you ear off!