Meet Eric Monacelli, the Senior Director, Product Development for Marvel Games

1. Hello, who are you and what are you known for?

I’m Eric Monacelli, Senior Director, Product Development for Marvel Games. I have served as a Project Lead or Comms Director on multiple blockbuster console titles over my career including Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, The Last of Us, and many other titles. I’ve worked on development, publishing, and licensing teams. I’m known for world building, my cross-functional, interdisciplinary team leadership, driving consumer engagement, and expanding the reach and impact of a game beyond the game world itself.

2. What initially attracted you to the industry, and how did you break into the games industry?

I’ve been building fictional worlds in my mind since I was a daydreaming child growing up in an extremely small Western New York town. The idea of fostering connection and community through the art and tech of virtual worlds is what I strive for and continue to develop. I broke into gaming through persistence and a healthy dose of dogged communication. I thank Tom Bass for giving me the shot to prove myself in the early days of 2K Games. I started by teaching myself how to edit video with some help from Walt Williams while at 2K. My career took shape from there.

3. For those beginning their career in this notoriously turbulent industry, what qualities do you feel helped you navigate your career path?

The ability to recognize that the only preparation that truly helps is to be prepared for the unknown. That means to always be learning, growing, willing to change and adapt as needed. Combined with my relentless determination, flexible persistence, and an optimistic yet stubborn will that seeks to champion equity and inclusion whenever possible. Looking for new ways of seeing everything and anything is essential. We are all in the business of building fictional, virtual worlds that people should – ideally – feel compelled to return to over and over again.

Screenshot from Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales captured on PS5. Copyright 2020 Marvel
4. For those learning about our industry or interested in your role can you explain your job title, its function and what impact do you have in game titles?

My current work is serving as a focal connection point between developer, publisher, licensees, and our world-renowned IP. Part of my job is being a brand champion with an eye towards building out better ways to engage and invite in both longtime and new fans. I aim to help our development collaborators best show our video games audience why our characters are the greatest myths the world currently has while entertaining and educating those players in the most spectacular way possible. I want to help build timeless, lasting worlds that players talk about lovingly and widely, as they want to return to these amazing worlds over and over again.

5. What’s your favorite part of your job?

Collaboration with our incredible development, brand, and merchandising partners. They challenge me and inspire me to see what’s possible in exciting and fresh ways.

6. Where do you work? Can you explain more about the studio, it’s culture, size, strengths and why you chose to work there?

I work at Marvel Games. We are a mighty team of a little over twenty experts in our disciplines. We have a culture of collaboration and helping our partners to make the greatest and most memorable games the world has ever known. I want to work on projects that uplift the human spirit and encourage hope. Our Super Heroes narratives – in game or in our projects related to the games – are often an examination of what it means to grow and learn. I cherish the opportunity to explore moving beyond apocalypse narratives as an endpoint, or as a singular emotional trigger, to find what connects all of us via the extraordinary acts of heroism and care necessary to achieve healing, which showcases our collective greater humanity.

Photo: Screenshot from Marvel’s Wolverine reveal trailer

7. How has COVID after your career, studio and what lasting changes both good and bad do you feel COVID has brought to the games industry?

Working from home is now viewed as tenable and highly successful in many instances. It’s refreshing to see colleagues and collaborators having more time at home with family and for themselves. I know this has balanced personal life issues with work for the better for me. I love not having to make a long commute anymore too!

Also, events. Events are forever changed in the video game industry. Pre-COVID we had reached a saturation point with events I felt. A reduction in the number of events with many of them moving to a digital space is here to stay. That’s a welcome trend. Also, I see more creativity both around what it means to hold in-person events and online events now.

8. What shall I be doing right now to improve my career prospects?

Studying games, networking online, and learning everything you can about what aspect of game making or game marketing or game branding drives you. Also, read, watch, observe, be in nature, take up a new hobby, explore something you didn’t think you could do before – all the real world experiences you have can translate and teach lessons about what might be fun or engaging in a virtual world.

9. Is there a quote that motivates you?

Multiple quotes, so many quotes speak to me as I read a lot whenever I have the time. My three favorites:
“I walk ahead of myself in perpetual expectancy of miracles.” – Anaïs Nin
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.“ – Jackie Robinson
“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” – Jackie Robinson

10. Can you share your thoughts about the next 5 years outlook for games?

I hope we create more and more stories that strive to promote inclusion, equity, and the healing of trauma through extraordinary acts of care and heroism. I hope that games continue to grow as a force of cultural importance and impact to the point they are respected as an art form as much as they are respected as a highly profitable business and worthwhile hobby.

11. What advice would you give your younger self when looking at the games industry?

Prepare yourself better for the unknown. Always be learning in every situation. Think deeply about the simple elements of what makes something fun or enjoyable. There’s a psychology behind fun that evolves rapidly. Take the time to think about what fun means for you. Don’t forget to balance your work and your exercise carefully too.