From Indie Classrooms to AAA meeting rooms

It’s always an interesting thought to have, the “who will I be when I’m done with college?” Lucky for me, I have WB Games | Avalanche to answer that for me. I always had some sort of an idea of what an internship at WB Games | Avalanche would look like and this is definitely not what I thought it would be. I definitely didn’t think I would be able to branch out and learn as much as I have.

Graduating from the University of Utah and hearing about the “friendly faces at WB Games | Avalanche”, had almost become a routine conversation. But somehow, I really didn’t know what to expect when I heard I would get the opportunity to be a part of the studio. Fortunately, my first few days changed everything.

My slow realization of where I had landed, sunk in when I was being introduced to 20th person on the floor on my first day. I realized, that I had gotten the opportunity to be a part of a team that was truly passionate about what they did. And all I knew was that I had to learn as much from this place as I can.

From the awesome culture, to the relaxed environment and to the sheer amount of experience carried by the team, it really all took me by surprise. To be able to walk down the hall and have conversations with people that have had such varied experiences in the industry, is one of the main reasons I love coming to work. And yes, talking to the endless pool of knowledge around me is exhilarating, but to be sitting here treated as a professional has made all the difference.

Then again, not everything was all glamorous. Coming from making small games (that felt like the biggest projects of my life in class) and moving to a full production pipeline of a large scale project, has me a little terrified. But, with every passing day, my skills improve and I learn something new (even if it is from sitting clueless in a meeting).

All I am trying to convey is that I never thought I would get such a comprehensive look at one of the fastest growing industries in the world, in such a short period of time. And if I had to tell my past-self anything, it would be to expect the unexpected and know that things aren’t as intimidating as they seem. After all, they were called “friendly faces” for a reason.

“Pew, Pew!”

It’s almost 5 pm and the entire studio eagerly awaits the timely email from a Senior Developer.  The email doesn’t contain much content, usually one or two words.  Ironically, that tiny email has the ability to lighten the darkest days and unite the entire studio.  Many might be thinking, “How or why can an email with two words be so significant?”  Prior to working at WB Games | Avalanche, I would have been one of the critics.  However, after being here for 3 years, I can fully vouch for short yet powerful messages.

5PM finally arrives and on the dot I receive an email with the subject line “Pew! Pew!”  There was no content.  Our first day intern leaned over to me and in a very confused voice asked, “What does pew, pew, mean?”  I wasn’t sure if she wanted the long or short answer so I responded with the short answer, “It means that if you are done with work for the day, you should play games with co-workers.”  The long answer was a lot more complex and difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced Avalanche culture long enough to appreciate the deeper meaning.  In my opinion, it is one of the many factors that contribute toWB Games | Avalanche’s success over the years.

Depending on what the individual needs, “Pew Pew” can mean many different things.  For employees who had a long day, playing games with coworkers can be a method of relaxation.  Regardless of playing with or against coworkers, social gaming is enjoyable and relaxing.  It provides an opportunity to suppress the day’s qualms with others that might be feeling the same way.  It places an emphasis on the work, life, balance that differentiates WB Games | Avalanche from other studios.

In addition, another reason I think the legendary, “Pew Pew” email plays such a significant role in the success of WB Games | Avalanche’s culture, is the welcoming wrapper surrounding games.  Regardless of experience, title, department, etc… everyone in the studio is welcome and encouraged to play with the group.  It is no coincidence that the same qualities required to win in-game, coordination, cooperation, communication are a few of the many qualities that make Avalanche great.

Halloween at WB Games | Avalanche

WB Games | Avalanche got into the festive spirit of the most macabre of holidays last week, resulting in cookies for everyone and Emil from the Effects Department, once again, dominating the costume contest.

It’s become something of a tradition here to look forward to whatever ingenious design he comes up with and then marveling at his creation as he wanders around the office. This year he was a giant Voodoo doll, stuck with oversized pins, a big button for an eye, and a tongue that would occasionally flick out from between its teeth. Had you been wandering the halls of our studio that day you would have also encountered the Man with No Name, Alan Grant from Jurassic Park, a few Batmen, Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service, and the Sexy Sax Man from YouTube, sending echoes of Careless Whisper by George Michael throughout the building (those who didn’t feel haunted by any ghosts that day were certainly left haunted by memories of past romances…).