Culture

At Ikimasho, we believe great games are the sum of innumerable small and very diligently executed strokes of genius that coalesce into a coherent whole.

The way we work

Our culture fosters this approach to game making.

We put developers first, players second (paraphrasing the inspiring Vineet Nayar). We believe that focusing the studio’s attention on our developers is the most surefire way to produce deeply meaningful experiences for our players. The development teams create the value that the players then enjoy. 

We believe in the unifying power of a clear vision, and in unleashing and harnessing our team’s creativity at every level. Everything we do, we break down into clearly-defined spheres of ownership that are handled at the lowest practical level and do not overlap. In her sphere of ownership, the leader sets a clear, unifying vision and then unleashes her team’s creativity and harnesses their ideas to contribute to the overall effort of the studio. As a consequence, there is no place for interfering egos, ideas flow nimbly and efficiently across the entire studio, and decision making is clear and perfectly fluid.

 

These two principles are reflected in our layered structure: 

  • The top-layer that is closest to our players, the game-teams, own the games and serve the players.
  • The mid-layer, the core functions, own the policies of each core competency and serve the game-teams.
  • The lower-layer and furthest away from our players, the management team, owns the strategy and the culture and defends them every day in service of the entire studio.

We believe the value of an idea lies in its execution. Everyone’s ability on the team to execute on their ideas is essential to allow for faster iteration. More iteration means more risk-taking and in return, more chances of genius striking and creating meaningful experiences for our players.

We put polish above scope. Game makers are craftsmen and craftswomen, and players value craftsmanship. Our uncompromising strive for excellence is in the interest of everyone.

 

These two principles instantiate in the way we make games. In our medium, strokes of genius often are serendipitous. As a studio, our goal therefore must be to maximize our chances of creating happy accidents, which means limiting the friction of iteration to the bare minimum, allowing our creatives to try the riskiest and craziest things. Our approach is creator-centric: our developers work themselves out of a job by developing a library of tools that allows the creators of each game-team (game designers, artists, sound designers …) to iterate faster and ever-more independently to make better, more polished games. And we keep our tools as generic as possible to create a studio toolbox that any game-team can tap into with minimal tweaks, to start building playables faster.

The games we make

Ikimasho means « let’s go! » in Japanese. This momentum is reflected in our editorial policy with games in which our players embody characters who put their powers at the service of something greater. We humbly hope that this will contribute to our players’ empowerment and will encourage them to become beneficial forces for the society of tomorrow.

So far in making VR games, we’ve followed these principles.

Worlds

Because VR immerses us in the virtual world, we don’t just play the games anymore. We live them. To build worlds that are worth living in, we must go much further than traditional “environmental storytelling” into the realm of “world storytelling”, which encompasses just about every aspect of the game and requires the utmost attention to detail in service of the key emotion we creators are trying to convey. And one aspect in particular is paramount: the coherent relationship between player actions and the character’s actions in and on the virtual world.

Involving the body

Our players are not merely pressing buttons anymore, they now physically engage with the actions we require them to perform. This requires of us creators to design each action, even one as benign as picking up an object, into something physiologically rewarding.

Scalability

Just like the real world, virtual worlds are only meaningful if they are, and keep being, rich, surprising, and allow for meaningful interaction. Us developers, especially with small teams so early into the medium, need to make sure we build our games for scale from the get-go.

Building a studio, especially while exploring a new medium, is an evolving and fascinating process, full of trial and error. All of this is bound to evolve on our journey.

 

June 2020