Rob Procter graduated college in 2007. After that, you don’t hear from Rob again until 2014. Anyone with a sense of curiosity would question what happened to the intervening seven years.
Procter ran and owned the local stationery business. While it put some money in his pocket, the real benefits of being a stationery store owner, he says, were the on-the-job lessons he learned for his career in the game business.
“I acquired the business post-graduation from Leeds University. This was a 30-year established high street and B2B business,” he says. But this proprietorship went beyond selling Hallmark cards and journals. “Owning a small business, managing staff, handling accounts and dealing with customers was a fantastic education on many different levels.
“The experience I gained working long hours, six days a week, made me determined to succeed in a field I was very passionate about.”
That field would be slots and their development, both online and off. “Slots were always a form of entertainment that appealed to me, and given that growing up I played a lot of sports—rugby league mainly—I grew to enjoy having a flutter on key sporting events too,” Procter says.
From the moment Procter, who is vice president of game development at Light & Wonder, landed his first post-stationery job, he knew this industry was special—the fast-paced nature, the fact that no two days were the same, and the excitement around new content. “All this was instantly infectious,” says the native of Keighley, West Yorkshire, U.K. “During those days at Sky Betting & Gaming (SB&G), we were experiencing tremendous growth in all areas, and that too was an exciting environment to be a part of.”
Stationery business aside, none of what followed for Procter came as a surprise. “I have always had a blue-sky, creative mind, from a game design degree that got me into the sector to testing and releasing the latest titles.”
Being around new games and products was exciting from early on. “I knew that down the line I wanted to be on the other side of the fence, not releasing games but making them,” he says. “The freedom to be creative, innovative and work as a team were all big factors in my love of this field.”
Not even Covid-19 could shake his confidence. If anything, it was a booster.
“Covid certainly made me rethink my goals and impacted not only myself, but also my wider team, Light & Wonder as a whole and the wider industry. In a positive sense it made the team behave differently when it came to game production,” says Procter, who spends time off with his young family and Freddo, a springer spaniel.
“One of the highlights of working on new content has always been the buzz of a studio, the thrill of getting a game out on time and seeing it fly. Covid kind of cut into that, eliminating face-to-face contact. Coming up with new ideas and maintaining morale depended on virtual bonding. It was a huge challenge, but we produced some great games during this time that still rank highly in our charts across all markets.”
Mentors helped, like Samuel Downey, Procter’s manager for the bulk of his stay with SB&G. “He was head of casino during my time with the operator, and his knowledge of the industry and forward thinking really made a mark on me,” he says. The current manager and CEO of iGaming at Light & Wonder, Dylan Slaney, also has been pivotal to Procter’s growth as a leader. “His passion, mentorship and dedication have driven me and many of my peers to new levels.”
Procter sees a future built on synergy between land-based and online gaming with Light & Wonder in prime position to deliver on this next generation of content.
“Convergence of content, features and jackpots will all be huge. Engaging players through various forms of media at all touchpoints will also be key. Those that succeed will be the ones that can make this as seamless and entertaining for the player as possible,” he says.
Time has progressed since he left the stationery store, but Procter would take nothing back. “I am proud of my rise in this industry, and I know I have much more to achieve individually, for my team and for Light & Wonder.”