The KIXEYE Cup

image

The SCORES Cup is an annual 8v8 co-ed charity soccer tournament that brings together corporate and independent teams looking to play soccer for a great cause, participate in valuable team building, and make a difference in their community. KIXEYE generously donated $2,500 to the America SCORES program, and 14 of us joined together for an awesome day on the pitch.  All funds raised from the tournament support the America SCORES program, which enables urban youth from under-resourced communities to lead healthy lives – both as students and as people.

Although KIXEYE was a late entry into the tournament, we managed to put together a strong team of players from all across the company. The team faced tough squads from JP Morgan/Google, Wells Fargo, and Electronic Arts in back-to-back games with 15-minute halves. After a break for lunch in the afternoon where we learned more about the America SCORES program and the people it benefits, we fought bravely into the semi-finals by beating the KPMG/Silverwood team in the first playoff game. Unfortunately, we lost to Goldman Sachs in the second game, but we’ll be back next year to have our revenge! Thanks to the America SCORES program for a great day. 

Geek Olympathon

Video games’ fantasy worlds are, inherently, a little geeky. With intricate fanciful or photo-realistic settings, their creation takes a certain attention to detail that comes from the geek in all of us. KIXEYE’s Portland office, compromised of our Customer Advocacy department, channeled their inner geek to sponsor and participate in Portland Geek Council’s Geek Olympathon. Filled with geek-tivities, KIXEYE contributed some of its own personality by offering two events of its own: a ‘Build Your Own Guardian’ from TOME station and a VEGA Conflict ‘Base Crushing Challenge’.

  image

A big congratulations goes out to KIXEYE’s three fantastically dressed teams who all finished in the top four. Customer Service Agent Katie Evans’ (pictured above as The Scarlet Witch) team, the Dames of Future Past, finished first!

At KIXEYE, everyone is a geek in their own way. A customer service agent may know more than anyone else about Star Trek’s different races, while an accountant could talk your ear off about how modern war weapons should behave in-game. The Geek Olympathon was a chance for the Portland office to show off exactly what they know. With thirty different challenges all around Portland and a record number of teams participating, it was the most successful Geek Olympathon yet. KIXEYE is proud to have been a sponsor and looks forward to keeping its winning streak going next year!

KIXBALLERS Reign Supreme

A few weeks ago, we wrote about how our KIXBALL team was undefeated and headed into the league finals. Here at KIXEYE, we take winning very seriously, and today we’re happy to prove it. Playing their final two games back to back, the KIXBALLERS did KIXEYE proud by finishing their season as undefeated Champions! 
 
Cheered on by KIXEYE founders Paul Preece and David Scott, the team took no prisoners playing their most fierce competition yet. It was a close final game with the KIXBALLERS winning 2 -1, but with the support of KIXEYE, they couldn’t do anything but win. A big congratulations to the team! Until the Fall league…
 

KIXZILLA

There’s something special about watching your city get stomped on by a giant monster (or several). When those monsters are Godzilla and his enemies, there’s only one thing a video game company can do: leave work early and go see it. Being people that value explosions and giant reptiles, KIXEYE employees worked extra hard on their projects in the week leading up to Godzilla to make sure that they could sit back, relax, and watch the office building they just left get destroyed.

 

image

An outing to the theater does more than just let some geeks yell, “OHHH!” at the screen when things explode. Experiences like this are all about the power of the shared experience. From the moment people collectively pack up their things, to the moment they exit the theater, KIXEYE employees are rubbing shoulders with people from other teams. Looking out into the crowd, you don’t see the War Commander team over there and the Marketing department on the other side. You see people mixed together engaging in true, cross-departmental friendships. 
 
In the weeks following, you could hear people who haven’t spoken more than a few words to each other nerding out over the movie during lunch or over a beer at happy hour. It’s the small things that bring a company together, but sometimes you need a big theater.

My My My My My Ballet Shoes

Last week, the company had its third annual KIXEYE Night at the Ballet, made possible by Hera Chen and CFO Erin Glenn. The group ranged from people who had never seen ballet before to those who grew up with it. Everyone was beautiful!
 
 
…even the boys.
 

 
A wine reception held before the performance gave everyone the opportunity to relax and socialize.
 
Showtime!
 
 
The performance was Program 8 from San Francisco Ballet’s repertory season. It was a mixed bill featuring three separate ballets:
 
Agon
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Choreographer: George Balanchine
 
Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet
Composer: Johannes Brahms Orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg 1937
Choreographer: George Balanchine
 
Glass Pieces
Composer: Philip Glass
Choreographer: Jerome Robbins
 
The gang was all smiles, during the last performance in particular. Jazz hands may have happened.
 

 
KIXEYE Night at the Ballet was, once again, a great contrast to some of our other extra-curricular activities - and a great excuse to get dressed up to the ELEVENS!

Ballin’ Out

Kickball - or ‘KIXBALL’ as it’s called here at KIXEYE - is universally known for being the world’s most serious and competitive sport. A combination of dodgeball, baseball, and soccer, KIXBALL brings out only the most ferocious competitors. Twenty of those badasses comprise KIXEYE’s league-topping, undefeated team, The KIXBALLERS. Representing a wide swatch of the company from finance to engineering to artists, The KIXBALLERS gather every Tuesday evening to let loose, do handstands, and win. It’s become an office tradition organized by their fearless captain, Senior QA Analyst John C. Rodenburg (aka JCR).


 
Around 5pm, work clothes are exchanged for black shirts, black shorts, and bright flashes of neon socks, undershirts, and headbands. Slowly, the number of neon-clad team members multiply on every floor. While walking through the halls, The KIXBALLERS are cheered on as they pack up to leave. Gathering in the lobby and confusing the other building tenants with their game faces (read: smiles and enthusiasm), the team makes the trek into SoMa where their challengers await. Intimidation is the name of the game of the game as The KIXBALLERS enter the field together, as a team. After a brief warm up (which includes their signature handstands), it’s time to slay.
 
 
With the fastest pitches in the west….
 

 
…and an ever-vigilant team…
 
 
….The KIXBALLERS pridefully represent KIXEYE’s passion and will to succeed. 
 
Many companies have regular team outings or sport teams, but KIXBALL at KIXEYE is a byproduct of a culture that encourages fun. KIXEYE understands the value of blowing off steam and celebrating accomplishments. The KIXBALLERS aren’t just a clique of office friends who decided to do something after work together. They’re a ragtag team from nearly every department who want to represent KIXEYE in their free time. Their impossible-to-ignore neon in the halls every Tuesday is one small part of what makes their coworkers excited to be in the office. KIXEYE makes videogames. KIXEYE creates fun. It’s okay to have some too.
 

5 Things To Do In An Interview

If you are reading this, chances are you’ve been granted an interview at KIXEYE, or would like one, and you’re doing your homework.  You should know that we hold extremely high standards for our hires and just because you’ve done X, Y or Z and have offers from INITech, Hooli, or InterProbe, doesn’t mean you’ll get a job here. Far from it.  I personally interview most of the candidates that we consider giving offers to. Those that don’t interview directly with me, I thoroughly review interview notes and data from back channel references for every offer we make.

KIXEYE is a very special place.  It’s the best job I’ve ever had and I do everything I can to make sure every employee here can say the same thing. If you have passion, drive, top tier expertise, and want to do big things in the gaming industry, we have a spot for you.

Our goal is to create the most successful free-to-play gaming company in the industry, and to do that, we need the best possible talent available. Hopefully, this describes you.

So, rather than bore you with another list of what not to do, here is some advice of what to focus on for your interview, if you get one:

  1. PREPARE THYSELF

I don’t get as annoyed as I used to when an interviewee had never played one of our games, but I still probably won’t hire you unless you have some knowledge of the products that this company makes.  Even if you’re not interviewing for a job directly on a game team, do a little homework before your interview. Research as much as possible about KIXEYE and the backgrounds of the people you are interviewing with prior to coming in. If you tell me you are here to interview to learn more about our company, that’s a complete turn off.

Also, for the love of Crom, do NOT be late.  Anticipate logistical issues and try to be early.  Recently, I had an interview scheduled with a potential Sr. Project Manager who was very late.  We understand that things can come up and that life gets in the way, but his excuse?  “I missed my train”.  So, the person that we were considering to manage very complicated schedules couldn’t make his scheduled train on time?  I canceled the interview.

  1. BE HONEST

Integrity and transparency are at the core of my personal value system and of KIXEYE’s as well.  Trust is everything in a fast-paced, complicated environment with lots of moving parts and so much on the line.  So, be completely honest when answering questions.  I always thoroughly probe into why a previous job didn’t work out to get a sense if someone is honest or not.  If you were laid off or fired, that’s ok!  Be honest.  If it wasn’t the right fit or if you simply screwed up, tell us why and how you’ve grown since then.  That’s a lot more admirable than lying about why something happened and not taking ownership for your actions.  We all make mistakes, but I need to know what you can adapt.

  1. FOCUS ON OUTCOMES

It’s all about outcomes – not activities.  Most people confuse the two.  Show me that you know the difference and that your experience has demonstrated that you focused on the right things to yield tangible, valuable outcomes.  It’s not about ticking off items off of a task list. It’s about achieving something that makes a measurable difference to the organization.

  1. ASK GOOD QUESTIONS

There is technically no such thing as a stupid question, but there certainly are boring questions or worse… no questions!  A boring question would be “Where do you see KIXEYE in 5 years?”  I’ll go ahead and answer that for your now:  “bigger, faster and stronger”.  Let’s move on to something more interesting.  You’ve read about the company, you’ve read my interviews, you’ve played some of our games and you might know what we are working on.  That’s plenty of opportunity to come up with an interesting question. Don’t throw away an opportunity to learn from someone else.

  1. SHOW SOME PASSION

If you aren’t interested in us, then we aren’t interested in you.  We aren’t going to force a fit.  Make sure we know why you are passionate about working here. We’re incredibly passionate about everything we do at this company and we need to see that in you as well if we’re going to add you to the team.

 

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your interview!

-Will

Rollin’ The Dice With Team Canada

 
Our Canadian studio in Victoria, BC recently had their quarterly summit. The team is responsible for the development and maintenance of our KIXEYE.com portal, and every quarter some KIXEYE.com staff from HQ in San Francisco make the pilgrimage to the Great White North to review and plan for the coming months.
 
After days of meetings, the team cut loose and enjoyed a private casino night. Blackjack and Poker were the games of choice, and everyone had their pockets lined with some fake seed money. There were some serious prizes to be won for the high rollers, but unfortunately for some there was no prize for Biggest Loser. 
 
The winners feasted on those less favored by fortune, and the grand champion of the night ended up a visitor from San Francisco, none other than the Sr. Director of Product Management. Not surprisingly, data scientists and math-savvy programmers were close runners up. 
 
Everyone had a fantastic time, friendships between the studio and HQ were strengthened, and valuable lessons were learned such as knowing when to walk away, and knowing when to run.

Everything is Awesome

image

KIXEYE is dedicated to incorporating player feedback into game designs, as well as assisting players in a helpful and timely manner. The department that handles all of this is comprised of community managers, support agents, and dedicated game security gurus. Named Customer Advocacy, these people are the voice of the users to the game teams. In an effort to have the most accurate information and to stay on top of aggressive development cycles, community managers and support staff sit with their game teams more often than not. But doing so means that the Customer Advocacy department misses out on some collaborative planning for themselves. So what did KIXEYE do? Togetherness Wednesday.


Togetherness Wednesday may sound goofy, but the reason for it is not. Customer Advocacy has the unique opportunity to have staff that touches each game, and each game is in a different stage in its development. That means that some team members have never launched a game, while others have launched three. In short, every team member has unique experiences that they can use to help others out with. Dedicating a day to come together, catch up, and support each other is a joy. While most of a community manager’s or support agent’s time is spent away from each other with their respective game teams, Wednesdays are the day they collaborate (and have a little fun too).

Speaking of fun, almost every Togetherness Wednesday has a perk to go along with it - just in case being a part of something that sounds so fun wasn’t enough. From sundaes to special snacks to pie (okay, the perk is usually food), each contributor to customers’ happiness checks out what everyone else has been working on. The team’s favorite perk was going to see The Lego Movie where Customer Advocacy learned how everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.

The Magical Life of a KIXEYE Product Manager

image

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.”

image
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.
image

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.
image
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. 
image
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?”
image
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.