Panos Semitekolos and Daniel Lopez from Kolibri Games have told us about the studio's working culture, explained how they create a welcoming atmosphere, and shared some ways of avoiding burnout.
Panos Semitekolos, Lead Brand Manager: I’m Panos, I lead the Brand and PR team at Kolibri Games. I’ve been part of the team for over three years. I joined having worked in mobile marketing for most of my career up until I decided to get into the games industry.
Daniel Lopez, Studio Art Director: I’m Daniel, but people call me Dani. I joined Kolibri Games earlier this year. It’s been great getting settled at the company. Before joining Kolibri I worked at Social Point for over five years and served as Art Director there as well. My background is in graphic design and illustration. I’ve been in the games industry for over 15 years.
We have over twelve different teams, all of which play their own part in Kolibri Games’ success. Cross-departmental work is quite common, especially in a games company, where a successful new release or even an update to an existing game requires the cooperation of different teams and input from various directions. From our product teams to artists, then on to QA and player support just to name a few.
We always encourage people to take the initiative and demonstrate their own creativity. Ultimately, if it helps push us forward in terms of the art we create, then any new ideas are welcome.
As for our approach to education, we have dedicated time specifically for training for all our artists in addition to a personal learning budget that they can use (part of our company benefits package), we also recently just hired spine training for all the artists.
Apart from the obvious hard skills, we are always on the lookout for easy communication and proactiveness, those two soft skills are always the starting point for everything else. Eagerness to learn, curiosity and teamwork always follow if you have those initial two.
Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere
We implement several different initiatives for new Kolibris to make sure they feel comfortable in their new work environment and integrated into their team. This includes our onboarding package, which each Kolibri receives on day one, and a special mention in our weekly company presentation. We also encourage new joiners to take part in the many after-work events we hold at our office. These range from pizza Fridays to various events.
We’re well aware that burnout can be a part of someone’s work experience, regardless of where they work, or what their role is. Especially given the wider climate with regard to current events, and challenges people face in their personal lives, we are acutely aware that members of our team might reach a point where they need a rest.
One of the most important strategies we have is having our team leads actively engage with direct reports during their one-on-ones about topics related to their general mental health and morale. We want people to feel safe to bring up topics like these. In rare cases where an employee might feel uncomfortable bringing it up directly to their team lead, our HR team tries to raise awareness about these topics and maintains an open-door policy for anyone who feels like they need more support.
Finally, we’ve also taken steps on a company level to make sure people feel rested. This includes adding three mental health days for this calendar year, this allows them the freedom to determine when they need to take some time off to reset and recharge.
What Things Should Beginners Focus On?
It partially depends on the career they are pursuing but I would say mastering the fundamentals would always be the starting point. Things like readability or composition are a must regardless of whether you are a 2D or 3D artist, working in UI, or an animator.