The US Best Places To Work Awards featured several game developers who received great scores from their staff.
One of the biggest teams to score big was Iron Galaxy Studios. The developer has worked on original projects, but has also made a name for himself by bringing successful brands to other consoles. It has worked on big IPs like Overwatch, Skyrim, Borderlands 2, Killer Instinct, Destiny, Fortnite, Batman, and Crash Bandicoot.
Following her victory in our US Best Places to Work awards, we caught up with Co-CEO Chelsea Blasko.
Tell us about Iron Galaxy, what are you known for?
Iron Galaxy is an independent game development company. We work with our partners in the industry to help them ship their games, bring them to other consoles, and we also work with our own IP. Our people work on many different exciting projects. I am the co-executive director of the organization. You can think of me as the adult in the room, making sure our company is structured to enable us to overcome the wide variety of challenges we face every day.
What do you think makes you one of the best places to work?
One of our core values at Iron Galaxy is people. We want it to be you. Everyone in our company is welcome. We are equally focused on making great games and providing a great experience for our people. This affects the way we hire, the way we work on our projects, and the effort we put into making our company a place that is truly fun and inclusive.
What do you think makes you unique as an employer and how do you maintain it?
Work-life balance is very important to us. This is not just a virtue that we publish on our website, it is an ideal that we strive for every day. In an industry that is defined by overtime and impossible lead times, we believe that one person does their best work during a 40-hour workweek. We put a lot of effort into scheduling and resource management to make sure the dream of making games for a living doesn’t turn into a nightmare for our people.
What are the biggest challenges you face in terms of keeping the people of Iron Galaxy happy?
Everyone defines happiness in their own way. Our employees are a diverse group of people with unique wants and needs. People are at different stages in their careers or have different lifestyles. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that makes everyone equally happy.
“We put a lot of effort into scheduling and resource management to make sure the dream of playing games for a living doesn’t turn into a nightmare for our people.”
We work hard to create moments where we can bring employees together to support each other. We have also introduced new programs that help people overcome specific personal challenges, such as being a caregiver or struggling with a mental health problem.
How have you found adaptation to COVID-19 and the pressures that are created?
Adjusting to quarantine has been difficult for everyone in the past year, but we’ve been able to support each other in some of the ways we collaborate virtually. With studios in Chicago and Orlando, we are used to working together from different locations. Sending developers home with multiple machines in an attempt to duplicate the studio environment has been an ordeal, but we’ve been able to keep our progress on track. We miss the personal connections that come from living in a common space, but our events team has been very creative in creating a variety of incredible moments that we can share virtually to help our people feel connected to one another.
What do you think needs to improve about working in the games industry and what are you doing to help?
Diversity has traditionally been a space with a lot of room for improvement. We’ve come a long way in hiring people from underrepresented communities in our industry, but there is still a lot of work we can do to make Iron Galaxy more diverse.
Our industry has also been home to some pretty brutal career experiences, with overtime and crisis being the standard practice in shipping products on time. At Iron Galaxy, we put a lot of work into planning our approach to our projects to ensure that we only ask a developer for their best 40 hours of work over the course of a week. That is the ideal for which we strive; we want our employees to enjoy making games.
What new initiatives are you looking to introduce at Iron Galaxy in the future?
Earlier I mentioned “People” as one of the values of our company. We also have a ‘Continuous Improvement Value’. We truly try to live all of our values at once and constantly re-evaluate and edit what we are doing to see how we can enrich the experience for our employees.
Check out Iron Galaxy during GamesIndustry.biz USA 2021 Best Places to Work Awards below: