Developer Spotlight: Erik Johnson
Get to know Vertigo Gaming Inc.’s Production Manager!
Hello chefs! Ryan here. I thought it was about time to again shine some light on another member of Vertigo Gaming Inc.—our wonderful production manager, Erik Johnson! Fortunately, Erik was eager to talk at length about his involvement in the company and the Cook, Serve, Delicious! series as a whole!

How did Erik join the team?

Erik traces his start in the gaming industry back to middle school in the late 1990s when he and his friends created websites to post comedy content for fun. What started as a hobby ended up giving Erik a footing in the world of internet content back when it was in its infancy. Fast forward to after he graduated college as a theater major, Erik moved to Los Angeles to pursue writing, acting, and directing. To help pay the bills, Erik took many odd jobs, one of which was a position as a video game blogger that his lifelong love of gaming and earlier experiences helped him to obtain.

From there, Erik eventually formed an indie game PR and marketing company, which David hired to help with CSD2. David enjoyed working with Erik so much that he eventually hired Erik full-time for Vertigo Gaming Inc., making Erik the first full-time employee of the company aside from David himself.

What does a Production Manager do?

Erik explained that his role as Vertigo Gaming Inc.’s production manager varies depending on many factors, and it’s constantly in flux. When he was a contracted employee, he simply worked on the marketing and PR for CSD2—this involved handling media emails, sending out game codes, and other similar tasks that David simply didn’t have time for.

Now, as a full-time employee, Erik also represents the company in interviews and at events, he contributes feedback to important decisions, and he’s constantly working to carry the company into the future. “It’s a lot of long-term macro thinking about the company—how we’re supposed to get from here to the next month and the next five years,” he said.

The work also depends on where the company is in the development cycle. While Erik is incredibly busy just before, during, and after a new game’s launch, he’s not nearly as busy when a game is in the early stages of development. During the early stages, he spends lots of time researching the industry, scheduling sales, and working on the company’s long-term goals. “My workload depends on so many different factors,” Erik explained. “Sometimes I’ll be speaking with David about work several times a day, and sometimes we don’t talk business for a month at a time.”

What tools does Erik use for the job?

Erik uses much of the full suite of typical office programs (i.e.; Microsoft Office and Google Workspace), but especially he uses a lot of spreadsheets. “I could talk for an hour about how many utilities spreadsheets serve,” he said. He also stays active on social media to keep on top of trends and determine how those services can be utilized for the company. Furthermore, he uses MailChimp to help simplify the process of sending PR emails.

What unique challenges come with working for Vertigo Gaming Inc.?

Erik said that while it’s great for us to be the company that makes the CSD series, it’s also hard to establish Vertigo Gaminc Inc. as a company that does more. “David wants to do more,” he said. “And to start a new IP when we're already so well known for CSD certainly presents certain challenges.”

What are some behind-the-scenes fun facts?

Something our fans may not be aware of is that the third CSD game was almost completely different. “We were very close to contracting another development team to work on CSD3, which would have been called Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3D,” Erik explained. “We were still working on what became CSD3, then known as CSD Foodtruck, but the deal ultimately fell through and CSD Foodtruck became CSD3.”

What tips does Erik have for other people who aspire to work in the gaming industry?

Erik explained that people looking to get into the gaming industry should be willing to persevere through tough times. “At one point I was making $200 a month doing what I do in the industry, which is not livable,” he said. “You have to be willing to be flexible and do the work that other people don’t want to do.”

Erik said that the adage “work for what you’re worth or work for free, but don’t work for cheap” absolutely applies to the gaming industry. For example, he said that if you find an “entry-level” job that requires a few years of experience, you have to figure out how to get that experience whether it’s from professional or personal projects. “If you can persevere through the first five years and find yourself in a position where you’re still picking up gigs, you’ve made it past 95% of your competitors, and people will see value in you.”

You can follow Erik on Twitter. And of course, you can follow Vertigo Gaming Inc. and Cook, Serve, Delicious! at all the social media places below!

July Discord Challenge

Our July community challenge is up and running on the CSD Discord — post your entry for a chance to win great prizes like game codes, the iconic Sundae plushie, or replicas of CSD3's in-game gold and bronze medals!
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