The Magical Life of a KIXEYE Product Manager

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KIXEYE’s Product Managers are primarily concerned with making sure our games hit the delicate balance of extremely fun and extremely successful. They are the gatekeepers of features, ideas, art, and events with the sole responsibility of making KIXEYE’s games the absolute best they can be. Andy Muesse, Lead Product Manager on the deeply strategic VEGA Conflict, wakes up every morning knowing that whatever he does that day needs to improve the game. According to Andy, “Product Managers must be fierce, always defending the game as if it is their child — protecting it against all evil.  One mistuning could mean the death of a feature.”

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The most important part of making an informed decision is reviewing the information. Andy sits down and immediately reviews the statistics. He asks himself, “Are we up? Are we down? Did decisions we made last week increase LTV?” Working closely with a data analyst, a community manager, and the game’s producers, Andy gets the answers behind the numbers.
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Armed with data, Andy’s next step is to review VEGA Conflict’s roadmap. Based on what he learned earlier that morning, Andy has to ask himself if the game is on track. Iteration is commonplace in the video game industry and listening to both players and the numbers helps Andy make the right calls. He won’t stop collaborating with both members on his team and other game teams at KIXEYE until there’s a clear path to being wildly successful.
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KIXEYE knows that these decisions don’t come easily. That’s why Andy is supplied with as much free yogurt as he can eat in the Canteen. While Andy could choose from chocolate bars to cliff bars, yogurt is his personal favorite. 
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Another key part of a Product Manager’s day-to-day is making sure KIXEYE is equipped with the best talent there is. Reviewing resumes and looking for talent is commonplace for Andy. He asks himself, “Can this person identify a target audience? Do they know what it takes to build a feature? Do they have a proven record of positively impacting titles?” Essentially, Andy asks, “Do they possess the same skills KIXEYE hired me for?”
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At the end of the day, every Product Manager at KIXEYE goes home with the same satisfaction of knowing that they were an integral part of building an awesome experience. In Andy’s words, “I think every second of every day how I can improve my game. I look not only to other games, but to everything in life. I look at how Safeway does promotions at the grocery store or how Budweiser advertises a new product.  I must take learnings from all around us, it’s a never ending story of improving and optimizing — the life of a Product Manager.”
 
KIXEYE is hiring Product Managers now. If you want Andy’s days to be your days, apply now.

Nerd Nite

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KIXEYE’s own Omid Farivar recently gave a talk in front of 200 passionate nerds about one of his most treasured interests: eSports! The talk was purely voluntary and part of Nerd Nite SF, an informal gathering at which nerds get together for nerdery of all sorts (well, mostly presentations and drinking). It’s a nation-wide group with cities running chapters of their own. Here in our beautiful city of San Francisco, the group rents out Rickshaw Stop the third Wednesday of every month. 
Competitive gaming (or eSports) has really taken off, and game companies are caring more about not just making great games to play, but also great games to watch. The Twitch and eSports earnings stats blew the audience away, and he got some great questions about his opinion on the direction of the industry. In Omid’s words, he “had an absolute blast lecturing peers and fellow nerds at Nerd Nite SF, and [is] grateful everyday that [he gets] to share the passion for making great games with so many others!” 
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Beast of Bourbon

If you’re on the KIXEYE Marketing team, it’s likely you enjoy the finer kinds of whiskey, or at least have an appreciation for them after last week. The team of 50+ headed to Hard Water at Pier 3 to bond over whiskey flights, fried alligator, and good music. Working at KIXEYE is awesome for many reasons, one of them being that once a quarter we get a sanctioned day for off-site team bonding. Past events have included Go-Kart Racing at K1 Speedway, Giants Games, and a Field Day at Golden Gate Park. Though last week was rainy and wet, it made for the perfect day to warm up with whiskey on the waterfront with our co-workers and friends. If you haven’t been to Hard Water, and you too consider yourself a whiskey aficionado, head down to Pier 3 now and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Check out more photos of the team and event here!

Limbo Practice

Health and wellness is important, which is why KIXEYE offers a free weekly yoga class on Tuesday nights for our employees. This promotes a focus on body restoration as well as taking some time for yourself. The class itself is generally led by one of KIXEYE’s own, Erik Ketchem, but occasionally guest instructors pop in to a teach class as well. This week, KIXEYE hosted its Tuesday class, but something was different. Caitlin O’Shea, who has been teaching yoga for over 5 years and practicing for much longer, taught the class as a guest instructor from Equinox.

It’s designed for all levels of yogis - from beginner to advanced. Mats are provided, and employees are only asked to come prepared in clothing that they can move freely in. This is a great way for people who have never tried yoga to do so in a casual, familiar environment. 

From Zero to Enterprise

Last week, KIXEYE partnered with Big Data Silicon Valley to host “How to Build a Real Time Analytics Enterprise with Open Source” at SF HQ. Lecole Cole, founder and CEO of Skydera, has been building a real time analytics platform over the last year. He spoke on the experience thus far in building an analytics system with commonly available open source programs.

Cole opened in front of nearly 100 guests by discussing general advantages of using open source solutions for analytics systems, and compared it with his previous experiences building a massive traffic management system.  He discussed using open source tools not only from the development point of view, but also from the business side with examples like maintenance cost comparison.  He explained some of the well known open source components and how they can leverage the development of a big data analytics system, with a focus on the “near real time” aspect. 

Keep an eye out for more events and meetups in the coming months at KIXEYE!

Team KIXEYE Cycles For Survival

This month, Team KIXEYE cycled to battle cancer with Cycle For Survival, as part of the day-long event at Equinox on Pine Street. Team KIXEYE consisted of eleven enthusiastic participants who combined their fundraising efforts to earn a total of $4,348 - 100% of which will go directly towards life-saving rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. As of February, Cycle for Survival has raised over $10 million for cancer research in its 2014 push. It’s because of your individual contributions that those struggling with rare cancers are getting the help they deserve. 

The all-day event was broken into two phases: AM and PM cycles, each of which continued for a full four hours. During the PM ride, KIXEYE cyclists alternated between two bikes that had to stay occupied for the duration. During their downtime, cyclists could take turns doing Equinox-sponsored yoga or Pilates sessions, or cheer their fellow cyclists on as they moved between bikes. The mood was electric, with everyone pushing towards a common goal of raising more money and honoring their commitments towards previous donations. While you cycled, testimonials by cancer survivors were given onstage, and afterwards spin instructors pushed you on as you rode hard for additional time. One participant accurately noted that the environment felt like a cross between a spin class and dance party, with the inclination of all attendees to be constantly moving and uplifting others. The event was altogether inspiring, and a great time was had networking with others who shared in the passion to make a difference.

KIXEYE plans to continue this annual event and ride next year; at that time we hope to have more cyclists and supporters on-hand. Those unable to ride or fundraise are always more than welcome to join in on the fun! Supporters are always encouraged to attend to uplift others, and to promote the KIXEYE culture of compassion and hard work. People are invited to attend, take pictures, and leave mementos for loved ones at the memorial wall. Likewise, Team KIXEYE can continue to raise money as Cycle for Survival rides into other cities. If you’d still like to donate to KIXEYE, please visit: http://bit.ly/1m7fWe3. Please note that we have not achieved our allocated goal of $5000, and with your support we can pledge even more money to go towards research that will help defeat cancer!

KIXEYE Invades Silicon Forest

This week, KIXEYE cut the ribbon for the office in our newest location: Portland, Oregon. The Portland office will be the primary customer advocacy center, and the team is already busy recruiting local gamers. “We’re thrilled to raise the KIXEYE flag in Portland. It’s a great city, with phenomenal talent,” said Will Harbin, CEO at KIXEYE. “We look forward to becoming a part of the thriving tech community in Portland.” Do you have kick-ass customer support skills? Check out the Portland positions now.

More photos of the Portland ribbon cutting.

Learn more about KIXEYE’s Portland office at The Oregonian website.

Conquering The Globaloria

Last week, KIXEYE HQ opened its doors to a group of 50 middle schoolers through Globaloria - a K-12 social learning platform for teaching web-game design and simulation production. This marked the official launch of KIXEYE’s Charitable Giving Program, which is geared toward enriching the lives of people beyond the world of video games. 

After a tour through the KIXEYE offices, a panel of our best and brightest answered any and all of the kids’ questions. Inquiries ranged from everyday schedule to the thousands of intricacies that actually go into making an awesome game. We can’t wait to see what groundbreaking games they come up with!

Pocket Gamer @ KIXEYE

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Last week, we invited some developers up to KIXEYE for the Pocket Gamer Mobile Mixer. Panelists from KIXEYE, as well as Kongregate, Ubisoft, Tango and EA were there to discuss the future of gaming on mobile devices.

View the full article on pocketgamer.biz »

GAME TIME

KIXEYE Canada head Clayton Stark was recently profiled as one of the big names taking part in Level Up’s 4th Annual Orcajam in September. Orcajam is a 48-hour gathering of game developers, engineers, artists, producers, and designers coming together from the Lower Mainland Canada and Washington State gaming community. Participants will be tucked away in the Victoria Advanced Technology Centre’s office for two days, making games and participating in panels and discussions.

Stark commented on the event, “I like anything that brings people together to move the art forward … One of the draws of this industry is it’s fun, we get together and make games.”

The Victoria area gaming industry has grown leaps and bounds in recent years, and established itself as an important part of the local technology sector. Good luck at Orcajam, Team KIXEYE!