Matt Golz joined Technicolor Games in early 2022 as Global Head of Growth as we announced our global expansion with investment in talent, technology and several new service lines accelerating the growth of the global studio
Matt joins to oversee key strategic expansion areas as we continue to grow unparalleled services to the games industry at scale. Here at Technicolor Games we are backed by the innovative legacy of Technicolor Creative Studios alongside MPC, The Mill and Mikros Animation, collaboratively we provide a suite of in-house full-service production across games IP, from in-game assets to QA, co-dev to TV advertising, interactive experiences, animation and feature-length film.
Tell us about your background? Experiences growing up, school, university, past roles that have played a part in shaping who you are now and the role you’re in?
My background in games started many years back. I’m going to date myself here, but I remember getting an Intellivision for Christmas one year, and I was hooked. I remember the first computer I bought – well, split with my dad. It was a Packard Bell 386dx and I bought a bunch of internals to increase my modem speed, my memory and my storage so I could play games. I remember getting my first (no classic) NES with the double-sided Super Mario and Duck Hunt. I wasn’t a big DH fan, but my dad and I used to speed run Super Mario – no warps. My best time was something like 7 min. I mean we used to play it so much that we eventually started to play it upside down – like back on the seat of the couch, with your butt on the back, hanging your head over and playing that way. I’ll be honest – my folks had to take me to the doctor at one point only to learn I couldn’t fully extend my elbows due to carpal tunnel from holding that little candy bar controller so tightly for so long!
Fast forward to 1998 and my life threw me a fortunate curve that turned into a dream career – I ended up living in Seattle and getting a job as an entry-level tester at Microsoft, working on Zone.com. All told, I worked there for 17 years – nearly all in games and all focused on quality, eventually working my way up to the role of a Principal Engineering Manager. I worked across Zone.com. MSN Games, Carbonated Games, Xbox LIVE Arcade, Xbox Game Studios and a bunch of experimental and R&D efforts. My family relocated to the Midwest in 2015 and I’ve been on the games services side of the industry since, working across business development and solution architecture for art, development, voice-over, QA, localization, community development, and player support services.
What are your inspirations and influences on your career and life?
I’ve always been a ‘builder’. When I was a kid, it was Lego. As I got older, it was woodworking and today, it’s cooking. I’m inspired by ideas, but I draw my passion from figuring out how to take raw materials and turns them into something amazing. That’s why games and entertainment are such a great fit for me and why I say I’m lucky to have found this career. I get to be a part of bringing an idea, or a vision, or in many cases someone’s dream, to life. And the real win for me is getting to work with some of the most creative and collaborative people on the planet – many of whom I’m happy to call close friends. It’s hard to cite a couple influences when so many people and experiences have inspired me, shaped me, and helped me grow.
What moments in your career are you most proud of?
Moments? Man… there are so many. It’s the collection of them that I’m most proud of. But, if I had to pick one – I’m honestly most proud of the QA team we built to support something we internally called Connected Experiences at Microsoft Games. We worked across a huge portfolio of products – mostly 2nd and 3rd party, some 1st, some R&D, some experimental. And we worked across a sizable number of platforms and initiatives. The work was fun but challenging and changed from day to day, but the team of people – they were some of the best I’ve ever be fortunate enough to work with. The team was distributed across Redmond Washington, Portland Oregon and Warsaw Poland – but felt really close-knit – like a big family. We tried new things together, and had our wins and our stumbles. But we always worked together. So many of those folks have moved into amazing roles with some of the most innovative studios – exec producers, developers, creative directors – the list goes on. Makes me smile every time I think about that crew.
With the games industry ever evolving, what effect does that have on your work? Is it more challenging or exciting?
I think for a lot of us, the draw to games is the fact that they push the boundaries of creativity and technology – they always have. All industries have an ebb and flow, but in my opinion, games capture lightning in a bottle more often than many. Not the same lightning, but lightning nonetheless. Watching these ideas, inventions, and new concepts fundamentally change the creative and technical approach to fun, social connection and personal experience is interesting. These aren’t splashes in a pond that have ripple effects – these are ideas that create gravity around them. I think the challenge that I enjoy most from my side of the industry is honing skills to know which ones to fall into orbit with now, and which to wait on. What’s good on the business side isn’t always great for the player, and vice versa. But when the two align, that’s when new chapters are written in the living history of games.
What makes the games industry unique for you? Is it different or the same to other industries you know of or have worked in?
Let’s be very real for a second. In games, we make hardware, software and middleware like many other tech companies. I often try to explain what I do to my family but summing it up that way, but being really clear that the main difference is our product is intended to create something different for people – entertainment. Some of that is fun, some of that is connection, some of that is emotion, some of that is belonging, and honestly, some of it is an escape. But we all have stuff in our lives – stresses and weight. Games are a way to get away from all that for a little bit. Games, film, TV, music, Broadway – these are all kindred spirits.
What do you look for in your future team members?
Simple – honesty, authenticity and the passion to do.
As a team leader, what values and messages do you ensure everyone learns or listens to?
Though I don’t directly manage an organization anymore, when I did, there were only a couple of fundamental messages I made sure everyone knew were important to me and our success as a team.
- There is room to fail in my organization. We can’t take chances and try something new if we are scared to fail. We’ll work to fail fast and mitigate risk where we can – but failure is a part of growth.
- Take time to listen to each other. Don’t just hear the words – understand the meaning. And if you don’t, ask questions. Nothing leads to unnecessary challenges quite as quickly as miscommunication and misunderstanding.
- We are in this together and as a leader, I’m here to support you. When we have success, that’s all about you. When we fail, that’s all about me.
To finish, what are your top 3 favourite games of all time and why?
I love and hate this question as it’s hard to narrow it down. But… here goes.
- Halo 1 – the original, on the original Xbox, with a duke controller in hand. When I was working on Xbox LIVE Arcade, we’d often get a few Xboxes and hook them up to conference room projectors, and run hubs and hundreds of feet of network cable to set up 8-16 player LAN sessions after work. I think I really liked CTF on Hang’em High with rocket launchers and grenades only the best, but Blood Gulch, pistols only was a blast too.
- Portal/Portal 2 – Such a creative take on a platformer. The character development, the dry humor and the super-specific art style made that game one that I couldn’t put down. The cake is a lie – I’ve got the t-shirt. I think I have an Aperture one as well. And I’ve got some Glados concept art in my office at home.
- Shadow Complex – you’d think I play a lot of platformers with a couple in my top faves, but I’m more of a shooter guy. That said, this one that we did at XBLA with Chair (now an Epic studio) was really cool. I loved the depth of the world and the replayability. Lots of story packed into it. But using the Z axis to fire down field and add another layer of depth to the gameplay was really fun. I loved that game project and the end result (including the remaster for Xbox One) was an all time winner in my book.