Working at Arrowhead (from an artist’s point of view)
I often get the question; “What’s it like working at Arrowhead?”
Now I know that I can only talk about this from my own point of view as an artist, but I think that some of my coworkers would agree on the answer I have for that question.
The usual and very short answer would be “Awesome!”, “Great!” or “I love it!”. But that would not make much of a blog post so I’ll try to give a more in depth description below.
Let’s start with some quick facts on who I am and how I found my way to Arrowhead. (If you’re not interested in any background stuff just skip to the next part.)
I’m a young woman who moved up to Skellefteå from a small town in southern Sweden to study computer graphics at Luleå University of technology. During my student years I met a lot of wonderful friends and people whom all had similar interests. Two of those had a simple idea; “Games should challenge the creativity of the individuals that play them”. They were the founders of Arrowhead Game Studios (you can find out more in the About section of this blog). As with many new start-ups they started out small, they had their office (which moved around a few times) at Campus Skellefteå. I was still studying at the time but I followed them during the years. When I had finished my studies – a few years later than planned – I was eager to start working and I managed to get an internship as a level designer for Magicka at Arrowhead.
I’ve been working here as an artist for 2 and a half years now. A lot has happened since I first started working here but I think the biggest change has been the move from Skellefteå in northen Sweden down to Stockholm.
As an artist working in an environment that lets you relax and be creative is crucial for productivity. One factor in this is how much office space you have, a small office doesn’t necessarily mean that you are less productive but it can easily get a bit cramped when you basically have to climb to get to your workstation. We were growing fairly quick after Magicka and we moved from one office to another in Skellefteå, a part of the company moved down to Stockholm to start working on a joint project there with another company. Eventually we decided to move the whole company down to Stockholm for various reasons, but it meant that we got a new big office and we were able to gather the whole company under one roof again.
Here we all got our own desks and a lot more space to relax in, and separate areas for meetings and hobbies. I’ve brought some of my traditional art tools here and there are others in the company who spend hours after work just painting, playing games or watching movies.
We have a kitchen area where most of us gather and eat breakfast and lunch together. Every Monday we get fresh fruit delivered and once a month someone comes to check on the coffee machine, refills our supply of coffee beans and tea if needed, and leaves a tube or two of Smarties (which many of us fight over).
We have a separate QA-room where I’ve spent hours playtesting our games and playing other games on lunch breaks and after work.
Our workstations are very personal and we all have our own setups that suit us best. A lot of us have more than 2 screens and we fill the remaining space on our desks with all kinds of stuff.
My workstation is surrounded with plushies from various games and movies, comic books and pictures that I’ve found funny or inspirational. I also keep a plant (or at least try to) and hoard a big collection of the office coffee mugs, our CEO being the only one better than me at hoarding mugs on his desk… It’s organized chaos everywhere but we all try to keep it in as best as we can.
I usually find myself longing for my workstation at the office when I’m at home and tend to go to the office to work on my own stuff on weekends. We are allowed to use most of the tools and programs here for personal projects.
We work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. The hours are a bit flexible, we start our day between 8 and 9 in the morning and stay until 5 or 6 in the evening – depending on when you got in that morning – and we have 1 hour lunch.
We really try to plan our work so that we don’t have to work any overtime, even though that can be quite impossible at times in this industry.
I think the best part with working at Arrowhead is the feeling of being part of one big family. Perhaps a bit of a strange one, but a family none the less, we all care about each other and the work we do together.
We are all strong individuals that can work well independently and in a group, taking responsibility for the tasks we have as well as the project on a whole. Every morning we have morning meetings where we tell everyone what we are planning to do during the day and if we need anything from anyone else.
We try to help each other to grow as developers and arrange different exercises and crash courses to share our knowledge between us. I basically learn something new every day, from small things like a shortcut in a program to techniques for creating a specific look on something.
Hopefully (if you are still with me after this wall of text) you now have some understanding on how I feel about working here at Arrowhead. I love it here where I have space, freedom and the support to expand my skills as an artist within the game industry.
If you happen to be interested in working here yourself take a look in the Jobs section of this blog. We are always looking for people to join our ranks.