Understanding the Gaming Landscape

In this engaging episode of the Player: Engage podcast, host Greg sits down with Bertrand Bodson, CEO of Keywords Studios, at the vibrant setting of GDC. Bertrand shares his eclectic professional journey, from his early aspirations of being a tennis player to his impactful roles across various industries, including his time as the first Chief Digital Officer at Novartis. He discusses the parallels between the healthcare and gaming industries, emphasizing the importance of technology and data in both fields.

Bertrand’s entrepreneurial spirit shines through as he talks about the culture at Keywords and the company’s approach to balancing the autonomy of individual studios with the cohesive strength of the larger organization. He also delves into the role of AI in gaming, revealing Keywords’ innovative Project Eva and the company’s commitment to ethical AI usage. The conversation touches on the challenges and opportunities in the gaming industry, with Bertrand expressing optimism for the future and the power of imagination to drive progress.

Key takeaways:

  • Bertrand’s unique background and how it informs his leadership at Keywords.
  • The significance of AI in gaming and Keywords’ Project Eva.
  • The entrepreneurial culture at Keywords and how it fosters innovation.

To discover more about Bertrand’s vision for the future of gaming and how Keywords is pioneering with AI and nurturing talent, tune into the full episode. You’ll gain insights into the exciting projects and the ethos that drives one of the industry’s key players. Listen now to learn more about the intersection of technology, creativity, and entrepreneurship in gaming.

AI Transcript: Bertrand Bodson

Greg Posner: 00:07: 00:44: Hey everybody, welcome to the Player: Engage podcast. Greg here. We are coming to you live from GDC and today my guest joining me is Bertrand Bodson, the CEO of Keywords, who I’m really excited to do my first live podcast with. Bertrand has an awesome background. He started with Boston Consulting Group. He was at EMI Music. He was a product manager at Amazon. Before Keywords, he came from Novartis as he was the first Chief Digital Officer there, and the person that helped bring the future in technology to a healthcare firm, and I think that’s awesome. So first off, Bertrand, thank you so much for joining me today. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our group?
Bertrand Bodson: 00:44: 00:50: Great to be here, and a great idea to do that from GDC. It’s always a very energizing place, I guess.

Greg Posner: 00:50: 01:14: You know, when there’s gamers around, there’s just energy going on. It’s a fun place to be. And before we really get into the podcast, the one thing that really strikes me and I’m really curious about the industry is, what did a young Bertrand aspire to do? You know, everyone dreams, or if you’re a gamer, you want to run or be a part of a video game company. And looking at your background, it’s funny, you went from all these different medias to Amazon to healthcare. What did you want to be when you were growing up, and how did you end up here?

Keywords Team posing for a picture at GDC 23

Bertrand Bodson: 01:14: 02:20: Ooh, that’s a big question. And truthfully, I was hoping to be a tennis player, but that clearly didn’t work out. And I started my career fairly early at Amazon, where all we had a bit more than 20 years ago was called BMVD, books, music, video, and DVDs. And so video game was a big part of that. So it was definitely on the agenda. It was one of the four divisions. So it’s really good to be back. to be back to that. I think it’s an amazing industry, it’s a fascinating one, there’s a lot of fashion. At the end of the day we’re serving three, almost three and a half billion players across the planet. I have three young kids, I’m very popular with my children as well in there. And what I really love about this industry and maybe about Keywords in particular as well is that it’s very entrepreneurial. There’s still so much to be invented, there’s so much to be to be shaped, I get the chance to work with entrepreneurs every single day and as much as there are some tough times out there, I think this is an ideal moment to really go and imagine more and to really create amazing experiences quite frankly. And often you get some of the best inventions, the best creations that are coming from those times where you have to think a bit differently. So I think we have a few exciting years ahead of us.

Greg Posner: 02:20: 03:20: Yeah, I agree. Well, you mentioned your entrepreneurial spirit, and one of the articles I read talked about when you were making the decision to come to Keywords, part of the idea was you wanted to take over more of a global, global entrepreneurial venture, and this seems like such a cool opportunity. And it boggled my mind when I first read that you came from healthcare, because I was like, that’s awesome, but where are healthcare and gaming really connected? I didn’t get it. The more I read about kind of what it was is that you came into Novartis, I think around 2017, 2018, and you were there to bring technology, kind of look at their data, and some of the things I was reading about online was awesome. First of all, I didn’t realize healthcare was embracing AI as much as they are, and then I was reading things that you were taking a look at, or you were thinking of how you can look at all the patient data over the years and start looking at that, and first I thought, how come they weren’t already doing that? And it makes sense, but I guess it doesn’t make sense until it does, so. I guess, can you go and tell us a little bit about what you’ve learned from Novartis and the healthcare and how that can transition to the gaming world? Yeah, sure.

Bertrand Bodson: 03:20: 05:24: So at Novartis, we used to serve about 800 million patients every year, so there was a big, big mission of also imagining more on behalf of patients. Technology was a very big play, an incredible amount of data, very responsibly handled, as you can imagine, a lot of clinical trials. big, big productions as well, not too dissimilar to here. It took us, on average, 12 years and two and a half billion to get a truck over the line. So you can see when we talk about multi-hundred millions and several years to get a AAA over the line, there are some similarity. And technology had to be part of the solution. Data was a big part of the solution. To the point that now healthcare is seriously looking into what we call in silico modeling. So how can you, instead of having to do just physical experiments in a very linear way, how can you really model that? How can you model what patients could do, or how can you have digital twins of patients themselves as part of it. So technology was really much at the core. You are spot on. And then beyond that, it’s all largely is one of our leadership about geographic footprints. I think I find that back in keywords in big ways. Again, a lot of entrepreneurs. There’s, I think, a great culture as well. How do you make sure you keep the entrepreneurial side of all of our studios while at the same time Make it work as one keyword, not to be similar to what I did as an artist where we have six different therapeutic areas. How do you make it cohesively work for the patients or for the players in this case? Global geography could print keywords. We have 26 countries now. which I really enjoy. You end up a lot in a plane, but that’s part of the job of it, the joy of it. We have a lot of technology that we’re bringing in. Really, AI technology is a big one. At the same time, a lot of M&A, a lot of transactions as well, but we’re trying to really make it work. At the end of the day, it’s a good cultural fit, it’s the best of the best quality, and then do the financial work, but that’s the end of the process itself. It’s much more about the seed that we find all together. So, bizarrely maybe, to your question, a lot of similarities on technology, a lot of similarities on leadership. a lot of similarities in terms of global footprint and probably an aspiration to do something that hasn’t been done before and to transform the industry.

Greg Posner: 05:24: 06:13: I love the fact that, I mean, I read that you were talking about at Novartis about how long it took some drug to get to market and how you just compare that to a AAA game, it’s like… You’re right, you don’t think about it, but a game is a process, it takes a long time, a drug is a process, it takes a long time, but maybe we could skip ahead a little bit. You mentioned AI, and I think AI, everyone comes on the podcast, they always talk about AI, and you get this special privilege of running a large company that has to deal with AI and has to take a look at it carefully and say, how do we want to use this technology? How can we improve it? What do we want to do? We don’t want to burn any bridges. We want to make sure we’re ethically using AI. So how do you make these decisions? And do you allow your own studios to look at it themselves? Or is it something you’re thinking it’s got to be a big picture thing for everyone?

Bertrand Bodson: 06:13: 08:40: Yeah, so very important topic for us collectively for the industry. Of course, a very emotive topic as well as You’re touching on the very core of ethical questions about IP rights. So the approach we’ve taken is, of course, in the context of really responsible AI, where at the end of the day, we did it on behalf of our publishers, of our clients, of our partners. We would always do it in partnership. So that’s absolutely clear. We have maybe two different approaches, depending if it’s in production or post-production. On the production side, we don’t necessarily feel that we need to own the stack itself. There are so many innovations happening, there are so many startups, from big ones to OpenAI, of course, to Midjourney, to Dell E3, to Gemini, etc., all the way to smaller startups in environment build, or Charisma, and to Seas, or Avop, for example. physics in middleware. So how do we assess all that? We see our role as we have 4,500 engineers, designers, technical artists, creative talent, creative engineering. That’s an incredible force for good to be able to test those four, five, six hundred layers that are basically out there. How do we stay two, three steps ahead on behalf of our partners so that it’s not about AI good or AI bad, it’s about how can we get to the granularity to assess what works, what doesn’t work, and under which circumstances. I’ll come back on that. Separately from that, on first production, there we want to own more of the stack because we feel that we have a right to act on behalf of the industry. It’s obviously what publishers want to do every single day in terms of testing, in terms of organization, in terms of the stack to do play engagement. But we have the privilege to work for most of the top 25 and for newcomers as well. How can we be an aggregator in each of those? We have made some moves with Helpshift in particular, where you’re coming from. with Mighty Games, which I see in the background, with Kantan AI, with Xdoc. So I think this is an incredible potential stack that we could use with the right humans, with the right talent behind, and the combination of the two can help be way, way more efficient and to create better player experiences as well. So that’s a bit the way we’re thinking about it. In production, how do we stay two, three steps ahead and really get a grip collectively with the muscle that we have on what is happening with our partners. On the post-production side, it’s more about how do we build. And we’re investing now, we have three users. We have 250 heads, or product development engineers, including at Helpshift, who are effectively building that sector of the future for the industry, which I think is an important step and an important investment for us.

Greg Posner: 08:40: 09:09: Yeah, that’s a great point. We did a podcast a few weeks ago with Steven Peacock, and he runs our Head of Games AI for those who are listening. And, you know, everyone’s talking about AI now, and everyone just goes directly to Gen AI, and how it’s going to impact the industry. But I love that you’re talking about introduction, because these tools do help testing. They help make things go quicker. It helps make the process, and you don’t want to fall behind in technology. So it’s important to make sure you at least know what’s going on, where you implement it ethically, responsibly. And it kind of goes down to the next question, right?

Bertrand Bodson: 09:11: 11:06: And if I may Greg, I want to speak a small plug of a project we are talking about later today, and actually now from now here at GDC, which is Project Eva. So on the production side, the question we had with Ashley, with Steven Peacock, with Jamie and the team was, how do you assess 400 tools, 400 partners, and it’s moving so fast, and to some extent it’s scaringly exciting at the same time. So that’s why a year ago we started at Project Eva, There was an electric square, one of our studios raised their hands and said, what if we were to build a shippable game? The intent was not necessarily to ship it, but a shippable game so that we were going to build practical applications together to see what works, what doesn’t work, in which circumstances. And I’m really proud to see that every month that goes by, we have actually more and more of our studios involved. We now have seven studios involved behind Eva. They’ve been testing Be Alive, what works, in which circumstances, how do you handle the APLs, how do you connect the current of those problems together. I mean, guess what, as soon as you get into character build, you need more and more designers to make sense of it and to make sure that those characters can also be consistent as the technology keep evolving, as you build your games. We need many people to understand, are those players even going to be alive in three years from now, which is important when you’re building for the long term. So which ones are really well studied, which ones can we help. You need legal and ethical implications as well to understand which ones are actually no-go because you cannot trace it back and it’s completely black box. Half of them actually fail the hurdle, but which ones actually really interesting and with partners we can bring them over the line. So I love that experiment that we’ve been doing there because it’s an R&D project, but it gets closer to that goal of having 4,500 engineers the technology creative to be actually curious about it and to build. And it is a good, I think, thought process, almost innovation process and machine so that with Farber’s going more, we can go and test this thing a few steps ahead.

Greg Posner: 11:06: 11:31: It’s interesting. I’m curious, you know, it’s cool that Electric Square raises their hand, puts their hands up, but is there common feedback, and maybe you’re not quite sure yet, from the studios that have been working on it that are learning just internally? A, you’re obviously testing different tools, right? You’re probably testing Mid-Journey, DALI, all the other image generations. But is there a common theme that, A, humans are still needed? Like, this worked, but it’s not good. Or is there a common thing you are adhering?

Bertrand Bodson: 11:31: 12:27: Well, the interesting piece is that it’s like every month that goes by, the team is asking me for more and more resources. So it’s like humans are definitely needed. Domain experts are really needed. The key is how do you get the domain experts to be super curious about it, which tools can give them superpowers. So no surprise that we sort of probably all expected that, we all know that. Like in the age of technology, right? From Unreal 1 to Unreal 5.4, it’s from Unity, from proprietary engine. At the end of the day, the more they become sophisticated, the more advanced the technology becomes. the more you need domain experts and the more you need engineers. We traced that data, we showcased it publicly a few months ago, where the more technology evolves, we’ve seen a 5x increase in the number of engineers, engineering type of capabilities that have been needed over the last decade alone. Just think about the type of budget that we have behind the games. Having AI in a broader way is just an extra tool and an extra superpower in the hands for the ones who are going to use it well, where hopefully we’re going to unlock some new potential here.

Greg Posner: 12:27: 13:12: Yeah, I want to come back to that point because as you mentioned, there’s more people now getting involved. I feel like that’s also expanding the process of how long it takes. Like you mentioned the AAA game to launch. How do you juggle that? I guess AI helps increase the speed at which you can put that stuff out there, but I do want to come back to that. But first, you know, with these projects, right, you often hear about I’m looking at the big, big studios, the AAA studios that own multiple studios, and some companies you hear have a lot of oversight, like you have to follow these rules, you have to do that. There’s some studios that let all the subsidiaries do whatever they want for the most part. How do you find a juggling act when you’re running about 23 different studios internally? How do you manage how much hands-on or how much hands-off you need to be with those studios?

Bertrand Bodson: 13:13: 16:20: In that, being an entrepreneur myself, at the time, in that I always go back to the entrepreneurial side. So I think it’s very, very tempting to bring things too closely together. You think it’s optimized. I prefer to live a little bit less optimized. But entrepreneurs always win at the end of the day, in my book, and certainly on all the creative areas. So if I separate, maybe break the different areas, On the create area, which is game dev and art, we have about 25 studios. To me, I want each of them to be able to run their P&L. They have all their own creative ways of working. But where we put some, I would say, cohesiveness behind it is we have organized the studios across regions as well so that As region heads, we can think about talent development across the region more consistently, for example. We can think about, when we do M&A, of how do we find the right talents that are behind. When we think about career management, we can also do that in a cohesive way there. It makes also, from a leadership point of view, a bit easier to get to also get progress in your own career as part of it. That’s one side of the world. I think that’s working quite well. We’re finding that we call it one keyword, so it’s a balancing act all the time between the entrepreneurial side and at the same time making sure that we have the right rigor. And there are a few things on the back end in terms of infrasec, cybersecurity, in terms of, of course, finance reporting, in terms of HR, IT, et cetera. There we’re trying to be systematic to have the muscle of it. Think about that the other way around. What’s in it in the shoes of a studio? I would hope that if we do it well, we can be servant leaders to a studio where they can get access to bigger partnership, bigger publishers, bigger titles, bigger piece that they could do on their own. If they really make the best of everything that Keywords is to offer, they can tap into the technology know-how that we have across the group. We don’t have to overly worry about cyber security because we can also handle that at broader scale and make the right investment behind. There is career growth as well, where they can tap into new talent pools as well. So I always invite our students to make the best of what Keywords is to offer more broadly there. In areas like global lands, there is a big difference, because that’s testing capability, localization, the audio developments. There is one single brand. It’s really the keyword brands. But there we want to be 20, 30% more efficient than what an individual publisher could do. And that’s why I bring the right showing across the group. I bring the right capabilities around the world, all over the place, whether it’s between Montreal, between Poland, between Mexico, between India, between China. I think there’s a really good offering there for our brands and that’s where tech also comes in on the post-production side. How can we be way more efficient? How can we be way more scalable and the best of human and the best of technology? to be able to serve actually the tsunami of content that is coming if you think about it in the next decade. Think about the content being created. It needs to be tested. Think about what will come through technologies. It needs to be tested, and that’s where I think that things are really brilliant at that. So there’s more than the keywords umbrella, but with consistent level up type of ranking, carry opportunities as well around those. So that’s a bit how we think about one keyword. Big, big entrepreneurship within the studio and the creative tools, like what’s in Engage, and at the same time, a sort of big machine, super efficient as well, with the right talent and human and leaders on the post-production side.

Greg Posner: 16:20: 16:54: Yeah, that’s awesome, man. We’ve spoken to a few of the studios on these podcasts, and you can tell they’re happy, right? They have that freedom, they can still do what they love. I know you key word is labs is a thing now where we’re trying to kind of get some new innovation, new technology. Maybe we can all align in certain places where there’s inefficiencies. And I love how, you know, you have these happy studios that start to collaborate on things if they’re using the same tools and using everything. And I think you just make better games when everyone’s kind of working together. They have their freedom and you don’t take their identity away. And I think it’s the entrepreneurial spirit. Like they built this baby. It’s their baby. They want to

Bertrand Bodson: 16:55: 17:46: Absolutely, absolutely. That would be my biggest pride. It’s like everybody feels that it’s their baby. And John Bork, who is a CEO, tends to joke with me saying, I can go on holiday for six months, it just runs. And he’s right. It’s like that’s the beauty of getting to work with entrepreneurs. Part of what we’re trying to build is actually a broader infrastructure that goes behind, has the right culture, hopefully, across the group as well. I think what I love in particular around keywords, and I don’t think they’re for granted, is that there is a natural culture of collaboration as well. People want to work together, people see bigger opportunities together. Even when we do M&A, half of the time we spend when we do an M&A is just to say a cultural fit. We want to work together. Look, we had a keywords event last night, 700, 800 guests. We invited a lot of new players who are interested in keywords to join us and just to get a sense of what does it feel to be inside as well. So I think that’s critically important. There’s a soft ingredient to make all that work.

Greg Posner: 17:46: 18:26: Thank you. That’s a great answer. And I want to take a little pivvy here towards the next question. You know, 2023 was kind of a weird step in the gaming industry, for lack of better words. Looking forward, there’s a lot of positives that came out of 2023. We’ve had some fantastic games that came out. It was a great year for the gamer working in gaming. was a little tougher towards the end of the year with what was happening in the industry. But as we come into 2024, the gaming community is coming together, they’re looking for new opportunities. Are there things out there that you think, or information that you think is important for gamers to know about this industry? And I don’t even know if this question makes sense now that I’m saying it out loud. It does, it does.

Bertrand Bodson: 18:26: 20:41: I mean, maybe I know it always sounds a little bit like it has been a tougher environment than in some of the COVID years, if I can say that way, but let’s not forget as well some amazing things that happened last year. First and foremost, you’re right, we had amazing titles coming out, right? It was absolutely spectacular. Look at the Game Awards in December. I’m very proud, by the way, that there was a piece of keywords inside 70% of the winners of the Game Awards. That’s something that, as keywordians who are listening in as well, we should be super proud about. We’re a bit the humble servant of the industry, but great to be able to contribute to that as a business with about 30% growth. Last year, we were a bit more on the picks and shovels in the industry, but that gives us also a moment to give a choice from a leadership point of view to make in those years. It’s like, do you go and anchor down on the country, or do you go and invest? So, of course, we have a short term to manage. I want to make sure that we absolutely serve our clients super well. And at the same time, how do we invest in those patterns? Everything where Greg, you were asking earlier in terms of what we’re talking about in terms of tech innovations, how do you build the post-production tech platform as well behind. That’s 250 professionals, product developers that we have behind. Those are big choices that we’re making because we see a bright future coming up. And again, I’m probably optimistic, but I see a lot of green shoes coming in. Quite frankly, right now, we’re having amazing discussions all over the place happening. Some are even using this time to reconsider their own business model as partners. Hopefully we can be good partners in their role as well, and making the best of it so we can shoulder together at the end of that. Some have amazing titles that are in the making, some are looking at what the technology they could be, hopefully we can guide. So I think that there is a, we still have some work to do this year to navigate for that as an industry together, but I’m still optimistic for what is coming. And you’re back to this theme of entrepreneurship, which is, our industry is really good at being innovative at the end of the day. And that’s why I would favor Entrepreneur of the Year every day of the week, because that’s where we’ll come up with new experiences together, we’ll come up with new formats, we’ll come up with new approaches. I see many studios who are saying, what is really difficult, where can I surround myself with the right artists to be able to do that in a very, very scalable way? A lot of the seeds of the next decade are happening right now.

Greg Posner: 20:41: 21:26: It’s funny, you kind of mentioned this, but we’re on the floor at GDC right now. Can you just turn the camera and show the booth? I got him working. See, I have an employee now, kind of. But like, we’re hiring, right? There’s people here, and a lot of people are looking for work, and they all still have smiles on their face. I think it’s just something about the industry. It’s a tough time, but… We’re all still gamers and people know there’s going to be work again. We came off a high, I guess you could call it, during the pandemic years and we’re kind of self-correcting now. But I like everything you said. The entrepreneurial spirit, hopefully we’ll get a bunch of indie studios that start to build up. We’ve got a lot of creative minds out there and I think it’s a trappy time, but I think it’s an exciting time for gaming because I think around the corner there’s going to be some great stuff that comes out there.

Bertrand Bodson: 21:26: 23:12: Absolutely. One, we’re definitely hiring, and honestly, we’re building our engaged proposition as well, big time. I think it’s sort of a mini-keyword you may make in its own right. Now, we have great capabilities in terms of trainers, in terms of social marketing. We still do, like, the digital media management, for example. We have building as well capabilities with HelpShift and the entire VIP proposition community, knowledge management, NPR. And then, there’s much more to be created there. And there, we only have a few pieces of the puzzle. We want to bring it together in a super crazy proposition. We need some of the best talent for that. On engineering, on the creative side, absolutely. If we could find an extra 500,000 super talent tomorrow, I would take them on right away, frankly. I think the team would as well. On globalize, we’re building something that is quite unique, where many publishers are thinking about moving the fixed cost to variable cost. This is an interesting moment where we can generally go and help and create value. with the list work and the strengths that we have in Black Paradise. We haven’t talked about Amiga, the table space with LOD, with what DMM does as well in that space. That’s an entire new adjacency. It’s a $200 billion market, by the way, where most are turning now to the gaming industry to look at how do you do in-game with real-time, with Unreal, with your type of capabilities. That’s super exciting about what we could do there. And look at the other way around. When you look at Disney, Lego, coming into a space, Disney putting one and a half billion into Epic, Epic growing like there’s no tomorrow as well, incredible wins as well with Lego, with racing, with concerts going into there. Let’s not forget all those experiences as well that are also coming up, and I think we have a role to play there. How do we guide those steps? How do we help create the right content in those type of setup? More importantly, how do we create the right experiences all around for the community that makes sense? So again, there need not to be

Greg Posner: 23:13: 23:25: Yeah, and on that note, I’m looking everywhere in the booth and we have our logo and under it it says Imagine More, and that’s been the tagline of keywords for a little bit of time now, so why is Imagine More?

Bertrand Bodson: 23:25: 23:59: Exactly as you say, because it’s easy to be very tactical about it. I really was, the team pushed me on that, I think they are right, it’s more aspirational, it fits us, I think it fits the industry, but really it fits our decision to go beyond the boundaries that we have as well, including media and entertainment and some other who are coming in, who are doing transmedia, because there’s so much to be invented. And it doesn’t have to be just a creative set. It can also be technology to make it scalable. But how do we imagine more really together with our partner? And I think that will give us a bright future if we keep anchoring and coming back to that.

Greg Posner: 23:59: 24:45: Yeah, I agree. I think that makes sense, and that’s well said. And something just out of the ordinary, but like something that’s really cool about keywords. And it’s just, you know, we had a party last night, and I’m sitting around talking to our own employees, and I’m learning what they do. And it still just boggles my mind, all the stuff that we did. It’s like a learning experience for me. I was talking to people from FQA. That’s functional QA testing. It’s just such a cool experience. So anyone that is out there eventually looking for their next career, everything is at Keywords. We can handle anything from a small little project of DLC to providing customer support. And I think that’s why I love being there. It’s just, you know, it’s like curiosity kills the cat. You’re just so curious on what everyone does and how they do it. It’s just mind-boggling. And I give you credit for keeping that spirit alive, that entrepreneurial spirit, where people do get excited about being able to do work.

Bertrand Bodson: 24:45: 26:06: And that’s what the invention room is all about. I like the way you radiate when you talk about that. It’s like we can all be a bit more… The kids are in us and being curious about it, curious about technology, curious about the games, curious about the dynamics, play the games themselves, curious about what others around us at GDC are also doing. We don’t have to have all the answers ourselves. So there is really a notion of partnership here as well to do that. And you’re right, I wanted to make a plug for our colleagues in in FQA and LQA and NOC as well. We have about more than 5,000 colleges around the world doing an amazing job every day. At the end of the day, they are the unsung hero of the games. If those games are make or break depending on the quality of it, they are the guardian of that. Using technology, using the smarts, using the experiences, finding the fun into those. And one thing I’m really proud of is when we did Town Halls together with the 13,000 keywordians, is when I see some of our best and brightest who are maybe starting in QA and then progressively ramp up actually and level up for their career and all of a sudden decide to use it as a springboard to go into more maybe engineering, or into other areas of the business. I can see some friends around here who are studio heads, who are really, really good at that. That’s one of my biggest pleasures as well, is through that curiosity to do career moves. And we always try at the Town Hall to show three or four who have just embodied that, but actually. So if you are proactive, if you are curious, I think the world belongs to you, but both of us.

Greg Posner: 26:07: 26:24: So, usually in the middle of the podcast, which we’re way past, I’d like to do like this fire round where I’m going to ask you very basic questions. Can I ask you these quick questions? Sure. All right. Normally, not now, because we’re at GDC, what do you eat for breakfast? Cereals and fruits. Okay. What, if you were to go to a bar, what drink are you ordering?

Bertrand Bodson: 26:25: 26:58: More Martini would be if I’m reading in a festival mood, I guess. Otherwise, probably a Diet Coke. Last game you’ve played? Just before coming here, I’ve made Eleven on VR. I know it’s not the most mainstream, but a big fan of it. The realism of it is absolutely incredible. Last book you read? That was a book I read. I’m reading a fiction book from Alan Cumming right now, which is a bit stinky, but it will have to do.

Greg Posner: 26:58: 27:15: And last question, what is the best tennis open? And you can’t say French Open. I feel like this is going to be a cop out. I live in the UK, so I’ll go for Wimbledon. All right, Wimbledon. Awesome. I have one last question for you, Bertrand. I know you’re busy and you’ve got a lot going on. This question I like to ask people is, what keeps you up at night?

Bertrand Bodson: 27:16: 28:22: Ashley, Ashley what? I’m fortunate. They were three kids, super happy to be their age. 13, 12, 9. Often people are looking for what troubles you, but actually, I’m at a happy place right now. It feels like a happy balance in my life. If I had to pick one thing that would be on fire, gets me really going and excited and pumped, it’s how do we build a platform for the industry. So how do we… I’m proud of our mission statement at Keywords. It’s like, if we do our job right, thanks to us, publishers get to think about creating their games, creating new experiences very differently. They can have a partner they can rely on. Not just an old source at Arm’s length, they can really evolve from the get-go. They can have impact on their business model, on their cost structure, on the creative tools that they can bring to imagine more, to dream bigger. They can count on us to invest in technology to be able to take some of the loads up as well. That’s what keeps me up at night. It’s a short time, but I have a great team who is running that day-to-day. I think, again, back to the entrepreneurial spirit, but fundamentally, it’s like there’s such an opportunity to invest in more and to create something special. How do we make sure that we don’t miss that window to be able to do that? I cannot think of a better time for that.

Greg Posner: 28:22: 28:33: Bertrand, this has been an honor and a privilege, and thank you so much for cutting out a little bit of your time today to come talk to me and our audience. Before you do leave for the rest of the day, is there anything you want to share?

Bertrand Bodson: 28:35: 28:41: It’s great that you did that at GDC. It’s good to get the energy and the buzz around this as well. So I’ll keep exploring a little bit. Perfect.

Greg Posner: 28:41: 28:52: Bertrand, thank you so much for joining us today. We’ll have information about keywords about Bertrand on our PlayerEngaged website, so come check it out. And we’ll be sending you more clips on GDC, so stay tuned. Thanks, everyone. Have a great day.

Greg Posner

Avid gamer with a passion for storytelling. My goal is to unpack the narratives of customers, partners and others to better understand how industry-leaders tackle today's challenges.

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