The Internship Chronicles – Ben Cortijo

By Ben Cortijo (GDES ’19)

I worked at Edoki Academy, a well-oiled machine which churns out multiple games a year while maintaining their main product: Montessori Preschool. Montessori Preschool is a subscription-based service which provides over 10,000 users with a plethora of mini-games designed to teach children in ways they’ll find fun and interesting. With this, users can learn the basics of math, English/French, Mandarin, and practical applications such as taking care of a pet. Along with this, anyone who subscribes to the service is also given access to all of the company’s other games. These other games range from beginner programming skills in Code Karts to gardening in Montessori Nature. Edoki has a catalog of over twenty-five games each of which has their own teaching point and helps teach children basic problem-solving.  While interning there I filled many roles for the company, the primary one being a translator for the company’s emails. Creating English versions of their PDFs for their subscribers who do not speak French. This is what I did for the majority of my time at the company, but it was by far the most lenient duty I had. By which I mean that unlike many of the other jobs I had done this one had no real constrictions, and thus I was able to express my creativity in the formatting.

Edoki is a company which primarily speaks French, with English being their second language. Because of this language barrier, interesting challenges would arise between my mentor and myself. For example, when I was creating level design documents for a game they were beginning to develop called Panic Train, I thought they wanted fully fleshed out levels. In reality, they wanted a spreadsheet to develop the game with randomly generated levels. Or when I was helping add to the Easter update my mentor wanted to add the flying bell which is the symbol of Easter in France. However, what I heard her say was a flying bear, so that’s what ended up making it into my PowerPoint. As time went on, misunderstandings occur less frequently. I would like to think we found a way to understand each other.

Towards the end of my internship, I transitioned into a video editing role, creating instructional demos for each of the games in their vast library. A job which I thoroughly enjoyed, it gave me the reason to brush up on Adobe Premiere. This, unlike the previously mentioned documents, was a lot more structured going through multiple drafts before even being submitted to a producer. Overall it was satisfying putting my certification in the program to use after nearly three years.

Between these two jobs, I’ve had a multitude of other jobs, my favorite of which being level design for a “wheels on the bus” game Edoki had developed. I truly felt in control of this game from start to finish and was able to bring it from documentation all the way to the build. Unlike much of the other concept work, I had done for the company only this and one other creation I was able to see come to fruition during my time working there. For example, I had suggested they use the song Old MacDonald as their next sing-along game. They approved the concept and even have audio already recorded, however, no further work was been done on it as the priority was on releasing the current sing-along game “Wheels on the Bus.” This is one hundred percent understandable but it really drives home the feeling of seeing the work you are doing lead somewhere like with the aforementioned level design. The same applies to the Easter update where I was allowed to decide the hiding spots for the eggs, as well as what dishes would be added to the kitchen. While these were minor things that I did they felt the most gratifying since I was actually able to see them go live in the update.

In the end, I’m glad I took this experience, it taught me quite a lot not necessarily about video games but rather about work in general. First of all, I learned how to work with those who do not speak English fluently. I have to acknowledge that it may be frustrating at first but I should double or even triple check that we understand each other. That way we can hopefully avoid major misunderstandings, like a bell becoming a bear. I also should expect things to change throughout work, just because I have been working on something for a week doesn’t mean it will be put to use. I have also learned to recognize the timeline, just like with Old MacDonald, plans for it may be in motion but they are still slow to be acted on.