K: Who are you?
Walter: I am Walter Duccini. I’m the Director of International Marketing.
K: What exactly do you do as the Director of International Marketing?
Walter: A whole lot of phone calls and emails on a day to day basis. A lot of times I’m on early calls in the morning with Europe, even before standard business hours. Then I spend a full day in the office hammering through a bunch of email. Then I’m often on calls in the evenings. I never really stop working.
K: Where are you from originally?
Walter: I grew up in Wisconsin, outside of Green Bay.
K: Really? How the heck did you get to San Francisco?
Walter: Through way of Seattle. I actually ended up here because of gaming. I met a few core friends back playing games when I was a teenager though online gaming. One of the most influential games for me was one of the first graphical MO–I won’t even call it an MMO: Meridian 59.
There I met someone who became one of my best friends both in and out of that game who was part of what led me to living in Seattle. Years later, I played on a gaming team for Battlefield 2 where I met a whole bunch of other really dedicated, really hardcore gamers. One of the guys that was on the two-person tank team with me was one of the original contractors, and was also the first full time employee for ASTRO back in the day.
When they launched the first 500 Limited Edition headsets and the phone started ringing from their new customers looking for help, they realized that didn’t have anyone to talk to people. At the time I was doing counseling and parole work up in Seattle, working for the state. My friend told the founders, “I know someone with an infinite amount of patience and is great with people.”
So I met with Jordan in Seattle, just before one of the Penny Arcade dinners–one of the Child’s Play events. I was in between parole meetings at the time, and I talked to him for about 45 minutes about gaming. Essentially, they offered me a job a couple days later.
K: Is there anything you miss about Wisconsin?
Walter: The cheese. The Happy Cow advertising always made me laugh… it’s just not the same in California. You can taste the angriness of the cows from having to be in the cold, which makes the cheese that much better in Wisconsin.
K: How’d you first get into gaming? What’s your first gaming memory?
Walter: My first gaming memory would be… that we had an Intellivision growing up, and playing Burgertime. But my first real, solid gaming “Oh my god this is amazing” experience was when my dad rented us an original Nintendo system from the video store and came home with Zelda. He came home with it late one night, and it was right before bedtime so we didn’t get a chance to play it. I was up at like 5am the next morning figuring out how to plug it all in and I never really stopped after that.
K: Did you eventually get a console in the house?
Walter: Yeah, we bought a Nintendo shortly after that, because my two sisters and I just loved it. We ultimately ended up selling it with all the games to a neighbor to fund our Super Nintendo with the money from that… and it just kind of went from there.
K: What are you currently playing?
Walter: Currently playing… When I DO have time, I play a lot of first person shooters, and zombie and wilderness survival type games. I just started playing Battlefield Hardline. I’ve been a Battlefield franchise fan for a really, really long time. I played what I will refer to as “semi-competitively” with that gaming group that helped me get my job at ASTRO in a roundabout way. I play DayZ fairly regularly, and I just started playing Reign of Kings–which is really fun so far, it’s a lot like Rust and Chivalry combined.
K: What game series have been with you the longest?
Walter: Definitely Battlefield. I started in 1942, and I’ve played every iteration since then, I’ve logged probably countless hours in that franchise.
K: That makes it sound like you literally started playing in 1942.
Walter: Ha, no, Battlefield 1942.
K: What’s your favorite gaming-related memory?
Walter: PAX 2005, which is the first time that I had played in-person competitively in a LAN environment. Prior to the event, we had locked in about 30 days straight of prep time, and we just walked in and owned the whole show. There wasn’t even anyone close to that level of competition, which was an amazing feeling. We got little trophies and prizes out of the tournament and I thought, “Oh my god, I won something from gaming, how cool is that?” And that kinda spawned my initial love for eSports.
K: What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do?
Walter: Sleep when you can, and have a very flexible schedule. Time management on an hour to hour basis is something that helps me get through the day. We’re working on an entire global strategy and timeline. Things happen for different people at different times. So you have to be able to assess, and react to the idea of “Oh my gosh! This is something that’s due right now, and needs to be bumped to the top of the To-Do list”. You also need to remember that the end of business day is different for some other region of the world and that is different than what it is for you and if they have to have whatever it is by their time, and what that means for you… Time management is something I really have to preach for someone interested in this.
I would also give someone the advice of being open minded as you go through schooling and education. Get involved with other social activities and things. It’s not necessarily all about the school and the program unless you’re doing a very specialized job. It’s more about all the experiences and how you connect with people which go a long way in international business.
K: Do you have a favorite ASTRO memory?
Walter: Probably the first month that I worked here as a whole. It was in between when we shut down the first line and we made some changes and then started shipping product again. I remember it fondly because we played Halo for like four hours a day. There were only four of us working here so we had the perfect four man squad. We’d come in, do a bunch of emails, go to lunch, come back and do more email, play Halo for three or four hours, little bit of email and then go home. It was the best job ever.
Then we started shipping products again.
K: What’s your favorite ASTRO product?
Walter: I was originally a customer before I was an employee. So I was one of those first 500 people who bought an A40 headset. I went back after I started working here and realized that I was the 6th person to put a pre-order on an ASTRO product. So I drank the ASTRO kool-aid really early on. I loved my A40s for a really long time. I was a PC gamer, very dedicated to wired and believed it had to have wires, or there would be lag or delay, wireless headsets were not as good of quality.
I went kicking and screaming to the A50s… and when I actually gave them a chance, I haven’t gone back since. So it’s got to be the A50s.
K: What are your hobbies?
Walter: I don’t do a whole lot outside of working, really. As cliché as it’s going to sound, I game probably more than anything. I do some role playing occasionally, some D&D, some Star Wars RPG, and garden and fish a bit. I also watch a whole lot of Twitch. I’ve got a small young family too–we actually do Family Minecraft together, which is hilarious. I also enjoy going to the gun range on occasion.
K: What’s your favorite gun to shoot?
Walter: Regularly, I have my pistol which is a P226, but I’ve shot a bunch of different ones. I shot a modified AK47 once, which was absolutely crazy.
K: Favorite vacation spot?
Walter: Probably Hanalei Bay in Kauai. It’s exactly what I would expect Hawaii to be. It’s quiet, it’s isolated. You can go get the whole ‘alone in nature on a beautiful island experience’ but you can also get nice food and go skydiving if you want to, it’s all tied into one place.
K: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Walter: I can barely see where I’m at in ten days with how busy I am… In ten years it would be nice if I could retire early. I’d like to have made a comfortable living from growing this brand. Go sit back and enjoy the travel, cash in some miles.
K: Non-ASTRO electronic product you can’t live without?
Walter: My phone. I play games, and do email constantly when I’m not at my computer.
K: What’s the most important part of game to you?
Walter: I think multiplayer interactions. The type of games I play a lot of times have some kind of open world role play elements so players can dig in and be who they want to be. I’d say that as a core mechanic is probably the most important to me. Allowing players to write their own stories and be their own storytellers is a huge thing in games that I really like. I feel like that really goes back to that Meridian 59 experience early on which is where I made so many of those early good friendships with people online. It was all about the substories that we were telling in the game that had nothing to do with the game itself but was just how we were interacting with each other.
K: What drives you?
Walter: Trying to be the best at whatever I’m doing at that moment. I focus a lot on a moment to moment basis. When I’m at home I focus on family and home stuff, when I’m at work I focus on that.
K: What do you do to better yourself?
Walter: Never stop learning. Look at every opportunity as a chance to learn something new. To be a part of a new experience.
K: Best movie of all time?
Walter: Office Space for sure. Star Wars would be another good one. Goonies is right up there. The Last Starfighter. Starship Troopers. I seem to have a lot of sci-fi here.
K: Do you have any apprehensions about the new Star Wars coming out?
Walter: No, I’m going to remain optimistic. I think Disney has taken a lot of initiative. They’re trying to take more of an adult spin on great franchises. I think from a graphics and execution, story and plot, I think they’re starting to get that audience more. I think they’re going to do a good job.
K: Music that is totally your jam?
Walter: 90’s grunge rock. Seattle grunge rock. Pearl Jam is probably one of my favorite bands.
K: Favorite food?
Walter: As bad as this is going to sound… orange chicken. Chinese food.
K: Favorite brain food? Books, documentaries, that kind of thing?
Walter: My wife is a big tv person so we watch a lot of series and shows. Game of Thrones, Shameless, I just started watching The Last Man on Earth which was… hilarious. And very easily relatable. But I think for me outside of that, one thing I do to keep my brain sharp is I do a lot of LEGO. Star Wars LEGO and I… I may have had a bit of a problem.
K: LEGO can never be a problem. Only the Solution. Unless you’re walking around barefoot. If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Walter: Don’t take yourself so serious. Have more fun with it.
K: Best part of your job?
Walter: Probably being able to meet people from all walks of life. To see and learn about different cultures that are very different to what we consider the norm. And figure out ways to speak to them and from a marketing standpoint.
K: Where can people find you?
Walter: I’m @ on Twitter.