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Secrets from the Best Places To Work Awards winners 2018

Sponsored by Amiqus

Ghost Games UK

Ghost Games UK

Ghost Games' UK studio is a bit of an unusual firm to be found in the 'small company' listing. Connected to its bigger brother in Sweden, the team is based within the offices of Criterion and works with numerous other EA studios. It is also best known for its work on the AAA racing series, Need for Speed.

“We have the chance to work with a lot of international talent and different studios around the world,” says Lisa Kretschmer, development manager. “The opportunities for personal and professional development are great.”

Ghost Games prides itself on promoting a good work-life balance, alongside the myriad of EA-based bonuses and schemes that it offers. These include stock purchase plans, bonus schemes, health care, free EA games, mindfulness training, free breakfasts on Friday, various team events, gym membership and more. It actively adds to this list every year.

“Everyone in the team has a voice and their opinion is valued,” continues senior HR manager Becky Glover. “We have a great mix of people, flat hierarchies, and all in all a very professional and good working environment that allows for a great degree of autonomy for the individual employee.”



Mojiworks is one of the more unique winners of this year's Best Places To Work Awards, because it builds games for social messaging apps.

“We're trying to do something brand new - make games for the massive messaging audience that are super fun to play in groups - and to do that successfully we need the company to value learning and inclusivity,” says CEO Matthew Wiggins. “Building a diverse and highly cohesive team leads to that - it's our main focus as a company.

“We're unique in how we treat the evolution of the whole company in the same way as the development of our games: we collaborate to identify what's working and what's not, and decide on what to try in the next iteration. We're always trying to improve, from the smallest game asset up to the way the company itself works. Everyone's encouraged to contribute and critique, and cross-team work is constant.”

Mojiworks says it's important that new recruits are suited to the company's unique set-up.

“We work differently to most other companies in games, so we hire very thoughtfully to bring folks on board who aren't just great at what they do, but who will also enjoy and excel at the way we work,” Wiggins adds. “From day to day, we try to ensure that our end goals are clear to everyone, approach them together and collaborate with candour and respect.”

The company is good with organising social events, including quarterly playful events (from nerf battles to campfire cooking), official game nights once a month, yoga, movie nights, pub socials and more. The company is also committed to looking after the mental health of its team.

“This year we've put particular effort into mental health awareness to better support openness and help within the company,” Wiggins says, “so everyone attended a MHFA-run training day to learn how to identify and help themselves and others.”

Ustwo Games

Ustwo Games

The award-winning team behind Monument Valley was our highest rated small company at this year's Best Places To Work Awards. And its team spoke warmly of the unique place in which they work.

“People who work for ustwo games genuinely enjoy spending time being at work,” begins Jane Campbell, studio manager at ustwo games. “We do sometimes struggle to get people to take annual leave as they fear missing out on work and social time at the studio - but don't worry, we ensure that people take time out. For example, to treat everyone for their hard work and celebrate our strong team ethic, ustwo games has an annual holiday for everyone at the company - we have just got back from our 2018 trip to Malta.

“Initiatives like this really make ustwo games feel like a family. Other unique traits of ustwo games are the transparency of leadership - we talk about everything at our weekly Friday Updates, from what's happening with the next social, to decisions on strategy, to the year-to-date revenue forecast of the studio.”

The company also operates a profit sharing scheme, which Campbell says ensures every employee is valued for their contribution - irrespective of their level, job title or role. “We are all part of the studio ecosystem supporting the development, marketing and maintenance of successful games, and this scheme means that we can all be rewarded for that hard work,” she says.

The company also offers six months paid maternity and paternity leave for mothers and partners of mothers. Campbell explains: “We offer it because we strive to champion equality in everything we do - and protected family time is incredibly important to the studio.”

The next area of focus for ustwo is how it manages career growth for such a small team.

“We are redefining and updating our existing PDR reviews process in order to be more effective at helping to guide career growth,” she says. “We are doing this to enable our teams to continually feel like they are learning, and able to reach their full potential. We feel we are nurturing the top talent in the game industry.”

Wish Studios

Wish Studios

“We built and run Wish Studios on the basis of open-minded teamwork - a sense that everyone has a voice, everyone can contribute,” explains Wish CEO Casper Field.

“The three directors sit open-plan with the rest of the Wish family. We're not locked away in an office somewhere, we're part of what's going on, and available to talk if people want us. We're a close group here, and we nurture and value that. We work hard to have interesting, exciting, inventive projects to work on, because that's why we got into the industry in the first place and that's what motivates creative people.”

Wish prides itself on some of its benefits, which include an annual bonus, flexible hours, medical support, beers on a Friday, and a steady supply of fresh fruit.

During the past year, the firm also refreshed and changed its appraisal system.

“We're trying to build our system of holding weekly one-to-ones between managers and team members, so that there's lots of regular contact,” Field adds. “And, as Wish moves toward its next phase of work and company development, we want to make sure we take everyone through that process together, as a team, so we're all ready for the future.”

Field adds that the key to a happy workforce is making great games and celebrating that fact.

“Treat people fairly,” he says. “Be honest, open and humble. Remember that we're all in this together. Have a plan, have ambition, and try to have fun along the way.”