According to recent research from Knight Frank, the UK gaming sector is continuing to boom. With growth not expected to slow down anytime soon, companies in the sector need to up their game if they want to attract and retain the best talent to help them keep up with the competition.
The gaming sector, more so than others, was able to adapt to the overnight transition to home working during the pandemic. The industry’s ability to remain effective and productive, no doubt played its part in its huge growth, with many organisations seeing rapid expansion at a time when other industries were suffering. That’ said, while remote working has served the industry well over recent years, many organisations are realising that collaboration, creativity and innovation, not to mention the nurturing of talent, is more effective when people come together to work in a shared space. So now they find themselves facing a similar challenge to companies across other sectors – getting their teams back in the office.
Organisations we have spoken with are telling us that they are finding this difficult, as people working in roles centred around solo working are not seeing the benefits of being in the office anymore. So how can organisations level-up their workplace design to ensure they are providing an environment which encourages people into the office, where people want to spend time and where they are inspired to innovate, create and be the best they can be?
Gaming office design considerations
1. Immersive design
In terms of design, we are seeing gaming companies transform their studios and office spaces into bold, playful and immersive environments which provide a real experience and a sense of fun for their people. Very much steering clear of typical corporate office environments, they need to create imaginative workplaces where their people are inspired to innovate and take fantastic ideas from concept to reality.
Playdemic’s studio in Wilmslow is a great example of this. The design centres on three zones which come together in a space that feels industrial, where bold colours complement the playful brand and where the culture of Playdemic is reflected throughout:
- The Creative Workspace Zone: an open plan workspace featuring sit-stand desks, facilitating teamwork as ideas are shared and developed
- The Indulgence Zone: the main social hub complete with an arcade, gamers zone, and break-out spaces including a snug and roof garden as well as private call rooms, meeting booths and boardroom
- The Refresh Zone: this is the central hub for both staff and visitors, with a large refreshment area, touchdown spaces and a lounge
Understanding the varying users of gaming studios and designing the workspace with their needs and wellbeing at the fore is crucial. For example, sound testers will require their own sound proof room, while roles such as programmers and coders will require a quiet and comfortable multi-screen work station where they are likely to spend long hours sitting. Adjustable sit-stand desks, adaptable monitors, and controllable lighting, can all help create a more comfortable and productive environment for this role. For other more collaborative roles, open plan work space with presentation screens for ideas sharing and innovation will be more effective. Informal areas which encourage ‘social’ gatherings are as important as areas for solo and team work, in order to bring people together in a relaxed environment to help them feel connected to each other as well as the company.
It’s about working closely with teams to truly understand the different business processes and individuals’ requirements at the start of a project, and designing a workplace which meets everyone’s needs.
Hand in hand with user-experience is the requirement to provide people with a flexible workspace. Whether that’s a fixed desk, quiet pod, collaborative huddle table, a meeting room or sofa, all clients we speak with are looking for various work settings so people can chose to work in whichever setting best suits the task at hand. While this is not unique to the gaming sector, the rise of agile workplaces in this sector is really helping to break down barriers created by so many of the team focused on solo-working roles, and also rebuild culture which was impacted by the pandemic.
4. Accommodating growth
In a fast growing, fast-paced sector, the ability to accommodate growth is essential for most organisations. So flexible spaces which allow for additional desks if needed, and the incorporation of agile work settings, as well as flexible meeting spaces, can support with this.
5. Tech capabilities
It goes without saying that gaming companies have some of the most demanding tech requirements of any sector. The fastest connectivity is essential, as well as the very best in AV. For example, our clients often need very large presentation areas and screens which allow them to connect with multiple gamers to test and develop games.
In addition, varying business processes, individual equipment and software used will all effect the power required to run a gaming studio. Is additional power needed? Can we link up computers to allow users to draw on power from other CPUs? Can the software we need be run via a server or do we need individual power supplies? All questions which need to be considered upfront.
6. Heating, cooling and ventilation
Heating and cooling requirements also have to be carefully considered upfront. In a PC which is running modeller or video editor software, or special effects programmes for example, sometimes across two or three screens, the heat output will have a higher TPD value than a standard computer. If you have 30 of these machines running in one room, this will impact temperature and the AC may have to work harder to maintain a comfortable environment for users. That said, many machines will have some kind of inbuilt cooling mechanism which will draw heat away from a CPU, and therefore result a lower heat output. Ultimately, it’s all about taking the time to properly understand an organisation’s IT strategy in order to deliver a environment which is comfortable, effective and efficient.
Gaming workplace design trends
Gaming workplaces and studios have long had a reputation for their quirky design and going against the norm, and were seen to be leading the crowd in this respect. However, we’re now seeing a dial change in the types of spaces gaming organisations are wanting to create, with supporting peoples’ physical health and wellbeing high on the agenda.
The sector has received bad press in past years regarding ‘crunch time’ and ‘round the clock’ working practices, so many organisations are now looking to actively ensure they are providing workspaces which proactively support their team’s wellbeing. So as well as providing a space which is comfortable and has the appropriate workplace settings, facilities such as gyms, cycle storage, shower and changing facilities, and electric car charging points, will become even more desirable, as well as places to eat, drink and socialise after work. In addition to this, the gaming sector is also particularly diverse, so buildings which support accessibility and inclusivity for all will be important for organisations when they are looking to relocate.
Over recent years we have worked with companies of all sizes across the sector to help transform their gaming studios into immersive and creative workplace environments which help encourage people into the office and inspire them to do their best. If you’re interested in how we could help you then we love to chat – let’s talk.