Coray Seifert

Developer Relations for FTX Games

Coray Seifert heads up developer relations at FTX Games, a mobile games publisher that pairs hit games with blockbuster IP like Narcos, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. Coray is a veteran producer and game designer with 15+ years of experience for companies like Experiment 7, Slingo, and THQ’s Kaos Studios. He has contributed to 25+ games across mobile, console, PC, and VR/AR including Catan VR, which hit #1 on SteamVR/Oculus Gear/Go/Rift, Zynga Slingo, a #1 title on Facebook, and platinum-selling AAA First Person Shooters Homefront and Frontlines: Fuel of War.

Coray has lectured at leading institutions like Rutgers, Penn, and NYU and frequently advises students and new graduates as part of the International Game Developers Association’s mentorship program. He was elected to the IGDA Board in 2007 at the age of 27; the youngest board member in the organization’s history.

Coray’s first career was as a signed recording artist and he has the scars and stories to prove it.

Talk Description:

ROWE The Boat: Results Oriented Work Environments for Game Development

We don’t ship hours. We don’t ship meetings. We don’t ship butts in seats. We ship results.

Dynamics that delight players, code that actualizes theories, art that ignites imagination, and music that stirs the soul. These are the elements that make games successful and they don’t come from a memo or a meeting. They come from a relentless focus on results.

This talk by veteran game producer Coray Seifert examines the ROWE (Results Oriented Work Environment) management philosophy, the specific benefits it can bring to a modern game development team, and the challenges in changing hearts and minds from direct experience implementing it at leading game companies like FTX Games, Experiment 7, Autodesk, and Slingo.

Ultimately, ROWE for game development boils down to these core components:

Measure Results, Not Inputs – This can be difficult in the games industry, where not every task has a clear metric to track against but defining clear goals and finding ways to measure against them over time is the central pillar of this paradigm. Specifically, this also means eliminating the “butts in seats” mentality and avoiding micromanagement.

Work When You Want – Analyze your own results, experiment with new work paradigms and harness your own burst productivity to maximize your output. If you produce 50% more utility when you work from 3 AM to 11 AM, then go for it, as long as you make standup.

Work Where You Want – Determine which tasks are better done on-site with colleagues (frequently this is collaborative, strategic, and vision work) and which are better done heads-down offsite (usually research, ideation or tactical implementation).

Empower and Aggressively Challenge Employees – ROWE doesn’t work without clear goals and ambitious management. Great employees want to be challenged to do their best. By giving staff the means to go after near-impossible goals, we ignite their passion for what they do, and let them do it the way they know best.

Relax PTO – While the jury is still out on finite vs. infinite PTO, ROWE requires a more relaxed PTO schedule than most traditional organizations employ. The core concept is that significantly paradigm shift in staff productivity, retention, and morale provided by ROWE more than compensates for a marginal decrease in available work hours.

Take Your Time – This is a foundational shift. Make sure you take time to win over hearts and minds ahead of time, change your culture to support ROWE step-by-step with high transparency, and understand that productivity may take a short-term dip while staff finds their new optimal working paradigm.

ROWE is not a brand new concept, nor is it one specific to the games industry. However, for an industry plagued with instability, overtime, and staff homogeneity, ROWE can provide a solution to a number of our most pressing issues.