A look at the nuts and beer of designing fun games at Nonstop Games
With Activision Blizzard’s recent acquisition of King Digital Entertainment, maker of Candy Crush (one of the most popular games on mobile devices), these are exciting times for Singapore-based Nonstop Games, a studio that creates games for touch devices and a subsidiary of King Digital Entertainment.
e27 paid a visit to their office last week to have a look at the space in which they work to create new games to follow the success of Heroes of Honour (a portfolio game).
The reception area looks out towards the corridor. The cast of sunlight on the pastel mix of colours of the reception area creates a soothing and welcoming feel for the visitor.
Identity is key for this company founded in 2011 and, in an effort to bolster it, it has tee shirts designed and produced internally emblazoned with the company logo that employees can take off the rack in the background.
“A lot of companies have merchandise that no one really likes and no one wants to wear. But we want them to have company tee shirts that people feel proud and happy to wear,” says Juha Paananen, CEO and Co-founder of Nonstop Games.
Also, in case anyone forgets that this is a King Digital Entertainment-backed company, there is a bowl (on the table) containing Candy Crush-themed phone covers.
And that bike resting against the wall in the background? It belongs to Paananen, who’s from Finland and who commutes to and from work on two wheels.
Behind the reception area is where the action takes place. Most of the 40-odd multinationals — comprising Singaporeans, Malaysians, Filipinos, Indonesians, Chinese, Britons, Swedes, Ukrainians, Russians, and Americans game teams — work in this space.
“We have a few different game teams who work here […] on new, original IP (intellectual property) games,” says Paananen.
With sections demarcated by concrete and wooden floors, and high ceilings that are criss-crossed with piping, there is a certain industrial vibe to the space.
“Rather than a typical office, it’s maybe like what you see in many startups in San Francisco,” says Paananen, who oversaw the company’s shift in location from the startup hub that is Block 71, Ayer Rajah Crescent, to its current location in Aperia Mall along Kallang Avenue.
“We really like[d] this space when we saw it – big windows and you have many restaurants and Arab Street nearby. It’s pretty central as well,” says Paananen, who has an older brother, Ikka, in the same mobile gaming industry as the Co-founder and CEO of Supercell, the maker of Clash of Clans.
It is apparent as Paananen talks that Nonstop Games has an employee-centric culture.
“Everyone in the company gets to choose their own equipment. If you want two monitors or a MacBook Pro with however much memory, you get [it] because it’s very important that people get the best tools for [what they do]. We’re modern craftsmen in a sense, trying to deliver a great digital experience,” says the Finn.
Nonstop Games works out of two floors. On the higher floor is a recreational area where employees can play table tennis, foosball, console games, pool, or practise yoga.
This space is where the office gathers to unwind or to hold communal events.
“What I’m pretty proud about is we don’t have to have strict rules. Everyone is super passionate about what they do. People are self-empowered [and] we want to have fun and create cool stuff,” says Paananen.
Spirits and snacks
The pantry lies in the middle of the workspace, between the foosball table and the pool table at the back.
Employees can refuel or unwind with something to eat or drink from bread, cheese, nuts, soft drinks, coffee, tea, craft beer and even liquor.
Music, pool (and a rocking chair)
At the back of this space lies a pool table and musical instruments. So, a rocking chair was a curious addition to this group.
“One of our colleagues just turned 35 and, as an old man, we bought him a rocking chair,” jokes Paananen.
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On another side of the second level, separate from the pantry and the recreational area are meeting rooms and another working space from which another games team works.
This meeting room (pictured above) has acoustic panels that minimises echo and ensures communication is optimal.
According to Paananen, beyond the meeting room pictured, a masseuse comes in every Thursday to give employees massages in this corner of the office.
Now that’s what we call a home run.
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