AAPI Employee Spotlight: A.J. Mortega
To celebrate Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Zynga has been spotlighting some of our incredible AAPI-identifying employees throughout May. We recognize the important influence that the AAPI community has had on the history, culture, and achievements of our organization and the world, and are honored to be sharing employees’ stories.
We are starting our month of celebrations with a spotlight on A.J. Mortega, our Game Content Integrator based in Chicago, USA.
Tell us a little bit about your background, culture, and career.
I’m a Mexi-Pino (Half Mexican and Half Filipino). I was born and raised in Chicago (Little Village neighborhood) and I currently live in the Town of Cicero (where the gangster Al Capone was based). I started playing video games and traveling the world at 8 months old! This is all thanks to my father, who has a passion for technology and an international family. As for my professional career, it has always stemmed in technology and game development. It truly is an honor to be working at Zynga and helping connect the world through games.
What is your current role and responsibilities at Zynga?
I started at Zynga back in 2020 as a VIP Account Manager, supporting our high-value players within our casino slots titles. Such as Game of Thrones Slots and Hit It Rich Slots. I am now a Game Content Integrator on the Words With Friends live operations team. It is really awesome working on a Zynga forever franchise.
Tell us about joining ZAPI (Zynga Asians & Pacific Islanders) and what the employee resource group means to you?
It wasn’t until very recently that I started learning more about my Filipino culture. I was invited to a couple of weddings in the Philippines back in 2019, and it was such a great time meeting family and learning more about my heritage. Fast-forward to 2020, I learned that an ERG for APIs (Asians and Pacific Islanders) was being formed. I reached out right away and luckily had a hand in the creation of ZAPI! I really love the team and all the time and effort that went into creating what ZAPI is today. Furthermore, I believe it’s very important to have a space where individuals with commonality can come together, share stories, and learn about our cultures from each other.
What does Asian Heritage Month mean to you?
This month is about discovery, storytelling, and reflection. During my time with ZAPI, I have learned that many of my colleagues are, like me, multi-racial. Like me, we have been hesitant to embrace our heritage due to a variety of reasons. As for myself, not speaking the language, not knowing the traditions, and having a mixed appearance made me feel out of place. However, since being a part of ZAPI, I now feel very welcomed. We’re an extremely diverse community, and AAPI Heritage month is a reflection of that.
Do you have an inspirational figure in your life? Who are they and how have they helped you along on your journey?
I owe it all to my loving parents, Arthur & Irene Mortega. It is thanks to their love, guidance, and support that I am the man I am today. Truly, there are no other inspiring figures besides my folks. Thanks to them, I continue to stand tall and walk the right path.
What was the best advice you ever received in life or career?
Never ghost! No matter the message – good or bad – always communicate back to the team. This was the basic message that Matt Booty, formerly the CEO of Midway Games and currently the Head of Xbox Game Studios, shared with me during my senior capstone project at DePaul University. These are words that I continue to live by and practice.
Looking back at previous experiences, what makes Zynga stand out the most?
The focus on employees and our well-being. Never have I been with a company so focused on ensuring their employees are taken care of. This mentality stems throughout the leadership, management, and everyone in-between. Working through this recent pandemic, Zynga has really demonstrated their values and commitment to work-life balance.
What’s a personal favorite of yours that you wish to share with the world? (This could be a game, book, food, quote, or more)
I really love this quote from legendary Nintendo game developer Satoru Iwata. “On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”
Anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
I enjoy flying drones, collecting NFTs, and learning more about blockchain technology.