DeVV Diaries: Simon Ebejer, COO
Hey Simon, tell us about your role at VV.
I’m the Chief Operating Officer of the studio and a member of VV’s Studio Leadership Team. My day-to-day responsibilities include working with our operations staff to make sure that the studio is running properly as well as supporting our projects by working with the production team, HR, recruiting, organizational development, and studio finances. The office move has taken up almost all of my time the past year or two, leaving little time for me to do much project support work, so as much as I love the operational side of things and will continue to do a lot of work in that area, I’m looking forward to getting back onto our projects and the whole reason I started making video games almost 17 years ago.
Why did Vicarious Visions move offices?
The short answer is that it was time. I’ve only been with VV for two years, but upon my joining, the space in Menands was already on its last legs and the leadership team had already begun looking for a new space. It was a great opportunity for me to step in in my new role as COO and remove that burden from the rest of the leadership team and help find and build us a new home.
How will the move affect VV’s game development process?
I hope that it will make it better. In the beginning everyone will have to get used to their new desk setups, office layouts, locations of everything, etc., but once we’re passed those “growing pains” I really hope that we can be even more productive than before, which is saying a lot because VV’s always been a very productive studio. We’ve got lots of great things that our old studio didn’t have, including a gym, multipurpose room with free yoga, beer taps, a great common space in the main kitchen with arcade machines that always seem to have crowds around them, free snacks, coffee, and sodas and more…not to mention everyone being outfitted with brand new sit to stand motorized desks and new chairs. I know that perks don’t necessarily directly affect mainline development, but I sincerely believe that things that can increase the happiness and wellbeing of the staff can only have positive effects.
What sort of unexpected challenges did you encounter with the move?
Man, where do I start…it was like developing a video game with lots of different disciplines all needing to be coordinated and with budget constraints, so I think anyone in the video game industry can draw their own analogies and guess at some of the things that we encountered. One of the biggest challenges that I didn’t expect was the hot construction market when we were trying to build. It was more difficult to line up contractors than we expected and as you might expect with the laws of supply and demand, very little was coming at a discount. We also had a pretty tight timeline once we were actually able to break ground earlier this year, so that caused some coordination issues that we had to work through with certain trades needing to work out of sequence or on top of each other which isn’t generally the way that one would line up a project…construction, video game, or otherwise.
What are your favorite things about the new office?
I’m going to give you my top 5, in no particular order…
- Professional audio suites are awesome and something VV has been desperately in need of, probably forever…and for sure since I’ve been with the studio.
- I like beer, so I must admit I’m a fan of the taps…
- The deck with its bar and firepit are amazing.
- The main kitchen is a great common space. It’s been so cool to see how many people are hanging out in there sharing lunch together or just spending time with each other…
- The main lobby with its open atrium to the second floor is fantastic. Our Creative Director did an awesome job working with our interior designers on the aesthetic and coming up with a unique idea for showing our studio’s 26+ year history through a timeline on the walls showing all of the games the company has worked on. Every time I walk through there and see our awesome two story light fixture with all those Edison bulbs I can’t help but give a little smile.
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