Employees are the true assets of any business organisation be it of any scale. They contribute in the functioning of an organisation as well as they strive hard to deliver their best to achieve the assigned targets within a given time frame. To understand the work culture of a global gaming studio, AnimationXpress reached out to Sumo Digital studio director Pune Stewart Neal. The game development studio has recently announced that it has opened a new studio in Bengaluru and has appointed Stewart Neal as studio director who is also studio director of the Pune office.
With the announcement of the opening of the new studio, Sumo Digital is also recruiting new talents. Neal shared, “Opening an office in Bengaluru was the next logical growth step for Sumo India Studios as the city is a hub for game development and skilled and emerging talents in the industry can be found here. Sumo Bengaluru will initially have a focus on the art and engineering aspects of game development, with a highly skilled multi-disciplinary team built around that. Currently, we are recruiting across those initial disciplines at an experienced to senior level.”
They are working to acquire the right people, with the best talent to work on the AAA console titles being co-developed by Sumo Group of Studios worldwide.
In terms of recruitment opportunities right now, they have opportunities for experienced and senior level developers across art, engineering, production, IT and office management/HR. As the studio grows, they will have opportunities for team members to work on some of the most well known global AAA console franchises, co-developing with the Pune studio and the global studios of Sumo Group in Europe, UK, Canada and the US.
Neal added, “Sumo India studios provides flexi-time and a leading benefits package which includes training days to ensure continuous personal and professional development throughout your career at Sumo.”
Currently the Bengaluru studio will operate virtually. “We plan to open the physical Bengaluru office in the new year when it is 100 per cent safe to do so. All the team members are working successfully from home, so there is no rush to get back to the office.”
Neal expressed that he is lucky enough to have a great leadership team supporting him in India and at a group level globally.
“Initially, the leadership team in Pune will be involved in growing the Bengaluru Studio, whilst we search for our core team in the Silicon Valley of India. They will help ensure that our core values and pillars at Sumo are maintained across the Indian studios,” he shared.
He also shared that there are challenges of setting up new office space and to avoid facing such issues, they did an extensive research about the city. He mentioned, “Setting up any new office brings challenges but we have done our research extensively and visited the city numerous times. We have team members originally from Bengaluru working at our Pune office who have been a welcome and valuable source of insight around the city. A big challenge is the competitive nature of attracting and retaining talent in Bengaluru. However, I do feel Sumo is an industry-leader in terms of technology, working environment, culture, and benefits. Plus, the opportunity to work on some of the best AAA games in the world!”
Crunch culture is a global workspace challenge and the belief system is that employees’ passion to produce results should outweigh everything else including stress, fatigue, and mental health. Neal shared, “Crunch culture is counterproductive to everyone and we do all we can to avoid it at Sumo. Our teams are supported in this throughout our leadership, our production techniques and by ensuring balance between work and home life. Sumo has a no-crunch culture embedded across the business.”
According to Neal, Sumo provides comfortable office space where they work hard to provide the most up to date technology, processes, and systems enabling their teams to work as effectively and happily as possible. They offer a flexible working environment to maintain their group pillars (Family, Security, Trust and Collaboration) and values (Respect, Innovation, Determination, Accountability, Recognition and Fun).
Neal shares insider story of Sumo Digital’s work life; he said:
“We work in flexible hours at Sumo, so a typical day when we’re in the studio would start with it slowly filling up… There’s a good atmosphere seeing people getting breakfast, coffee, playing table tennis, chatting and catching up on work that has been done by the UK studios the previous day. We are fully integrated with the other Sumo Studios and teams, co-developing as one.
At this time the production team are busy organising and planning the work to be distributed amongst the disciplines and teams. SCRUMs and team updates start around 10:30 am so there are a lot of small meetings happening around this time, then shortly after that, it heads down as the teams get on with the amazing game development work they do. I never get bored of seeing the latest builds on console and as an ex-artist, I can’t resist checking out some of the great artwork being produced.
Lunchtime comes around and groups of people start leaving the office for lunch, while others gather around the table tennis table, the gaming area, usually FIFA is being played. There’s always the customary network game happening also.
During the afternoon there are catch ups with the UK teams and more game development until people start heading off home, out for dinner, or stay back for more gaming or even take part in some of the life drawing classes organised.”
Their current plan is to maintain a managed and steady growth for both Pune and Bengaluru studios and ensure that their new team members get the support they need to succeed in their roles.