Gaming studios have a unique set of workspace requirements that determine their success – these are the top five pain points gaming companies face when looking for a new studio, and the design solutions that overcome them.
The majority of trends and forecasts for workplace design centre on agile ways of working, built-in flexibility and open cross-company communication. However, not all sectors reflect this move towards shared space and open plan layouts – most people are well aware of the open plan versus cellular debate within the legal sector, for instance. Gaming is another such industry with its own set of office design requirements. These are the top five pain points gaming companies face when looking for studio space and the design solutions that overcome them.
Gaming studios need the right balance of breakout spaces and desk space. We’ve delivered multiple studios for Square Enix – the first of which had a clear division of space based on the type of tasks employees needed to complete.
Gaming companies work in comparatively traditional ways and are not moving towards agile work practices like most other sectors. Open plan work environments make it difficult to conduct the focussed, independent work many game developers do on a regular basis. The studios are siloed by nature, but not in a negative way – certain teams are responsible for certain tasks, coming together to collaborate at very specific points of product development.
The solution: A mix of desk space and breakout areas
Gaming studio employees do a lot of desk-based work, so companies generally need an 1800mm desk for each employee. Studio desk layouts are almost a mirror image of traditional layouts as teams sit back to back, working with teammates on the bank of desks behind them rather than across from them. That way, everyone can turn around to quickly see each other’s screens. Studios don’t need large numbers of meeting rooms to supplement desk-based work, but breakout spaces where employees can get away from their projects and foster vibrant company culture.
Product Madness have a townhall space with stadium seating that acts as an extension of their breakout space when not in use.
While some meeting rooms and spaces are useful in any office environment, gaming studios just don’t need the same number of them that many other companies do. With communication and collaboration structures that are necessarily siloed, these businesses don’t come together all the time: which makes it particularly important that they have the correct space to hold cross-company meeting when they do.
The solution: A multi-use townhall space that can accommodate the entire company
Most studios work on one to two major projects at a time, coming together for company-wide updates periodically throughout the product development. These meetings aren’t overly frequent, but they are consistent, meaning studios need to have townhall meeting spaces that can accommodate around 150 employees while being versatile enough to be used in other ways the majority of the time.
The most recent studio we’ve delivered for Square Enix features play/test spaces where product testers can comfortably trial the games the studio is producing.
Many specialised tasks go into developing gaming products and, as a result, gaming studios need purpose-built facilities to support a lot of the work they do. Standard meeting rooms or private office space won’t provide the right kind of space for testing products or creating original marketing content, among many other things.
The solution: Play/test rooms and streaming spaces
While smaller studios may outsource product testing, larger studios need play/test rooms where users can test and trial games during product development. In fact, most external visitors gaming companies have are product testers, so play/test spaces need to be comfortable, welcoming and equipped with the right technological capabilities. Streaming spaces are staged rooms for video content production. Being able to film and produce original content for video platforms like YouTube is a valuable part of every gaming studio’s marketing strategy.
The lighting throughout the Product Madness studio space has been zoned to 24 different areas to support individual work zones and wayfinding.
Gaming studios have uniquely heavy infrastructural requirements that determine their building selection. Not only are they heavy on data, they have four times the AC requirements of standard office space and need highly customisable lighting throughout.
The solution: Custom infrastructural elements including HVAC, mechanical and electrical systems
It can be especially challenging to find a building pre-fitted with the kind of infrastructure gaming studios require. Because of that, custom HVAC, mechanical and electrical fit outs are relatively common place. Lighting is also bespoke as different creators will need different types of light depending on what screen-based work they’re doing.
Audio rooms are an imperative part of any gaming studio. Multi-purpose phone booths are also a key solution to limiting otherwise disruptive noise in shared studio environments.
Acoustic performance is an essential part of a successful studio environment for two reasons. One being that the mixture of focussed desk work and breakout spaces necessitates acoustic separation between different parts of the studio. The second being that all gaming studios record the audio for their products in-house.
The solution: Audio rooms for high-standard recording
Comprehensiveness will vary depending on a studio’s budget, but all gaming companies need to have in-house audio rooms in order to record the audio for their products. Audio rooms need to block out external noise and generally consist of a ‘live’ room where audio is created and recorded, and a ‘control’ room where sound engineers can mix and manipulate the recording.