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April 18, 2021
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Iron Galaxy Studios: It Takes a Village

by Shekhar Dhupelia on 03/31/21 10:45:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

When most people assess the career paths that exist in the video game industry, they tend to think of either Development (Art, Engineering, Q/A, Audio, Design, Production, etc.) or Publishing (Marketing, PR, Business Development, etc.). When I started at Sony during the PlayStation 2 era as a young and inexperienced programmer, I certainly came in with a narrow view of the Development side. What I have come to understand is that there are lots of other ways to contribute to a game company OUTSIDE of those roles, and that the need for this help grows greater as the company grows. These days at Iron Galaxy, building and supporting teams to provide those services is my job.

Game development studios, it turns out, are just like most other companies. As they reach a certain size, they can no longer depend upon multi-tasking to set up computers or pay people twice a month or manage finances or run the office. When a studio is just starting out, or if it holds itself to a small size, it makes sense to stay lean and expect teammates to handle operational tasks along with their development duties. Iron Galaxy Studios was no different. I have heard onboarding stories from people who were handed a box with their computer inside, with their first task being to set it up themselves. But, with over 200 employees, we are now scaling to provide a higher level of service to our people.

When a company expands, it makes sense to embrace a degree of specialization. This empowers the experts to excel at a particular trade and work together to succeed. This is not specific to games, of course. A carpenter and an architect have very different experiences, but their shared goal is building the same house.

Specialization at Iron Galaxy has meant building new functions outside of Development and Publishing, and we have enabled these new teams to focus on what they do best. These hard-working people now serve as the foundation of the company. They work with and support every other employee, while always looking for better ways to do things as our growth continues.

What follows is a list of these teams, along with a look at why these new classifications of professionals are so important to our success:

HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) – This umbrella of services shelters both the individual employees and the organization at large. We’re committed to providing our people with a healthy lifestyle. HR is helping us keep that promise as we grow. Our company culture can only include more people if we have watchful professionals to help us scale up. They’re also broadening our perspectives to ensure that we’re building a more diverse company.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT) – This team doesn’t just provision equipment. More people on our teams means a greater burden to keep them aligned on goals, deadlines, and projects. IT supports the structures and rituals we use to communicate and collaborate between studios. We could not have pivoted to working from home throughout quarantine, were it not for their hard work and innovation.

STUDIO OPERATIONS (OPS) – The Ops Team handles facilities and company logistics. Our studios are one way we keep our promises about a healthy working lifestyle. We give our people a place to work that fosters efficiency and creativity. Ops also takes care of our company events (whether virtual or IRL) and manages the daily schedule and flow of activities that happen amongst our teams and partners.

COMMUNICATIONS (COMMS) – Internally, our community of developers are as eager for information as our players. As we start to embrace a more direct relationship with the players of our games, the need for good rituals and traditions becomes infinitely greater. Fostering a strong studio identity is also important for morale and recruitment. Communications professionals also work hard to help you achieve your ideal word count when you try your hand at blogging.

FINANCE – This team doesn’t just account for what we have already spent. They’re preparing for our financial needs in the years to come. Of course, Bills, Taxes, and Invoices must be paid, but these are the wizards who can predict the future by telling us how many new employees we can afford to hire next year, or how to maximize our savings when we need to buy a bunch of new equipment.

I am incredibly proud to work with and support these dedicated professionals. The contributions they make are as impactful as that of any other teammate as we work to create successful games to entertain happy players. If you’re a fan of games who is interested in working for a game company and have a background or interest in something other than development or publishing, there still might just be a spot for you.


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