If you’ve ever read a blog one of our team has written, attended a conference that one of us has spoken at or even just scanned our website to see what we’re all about, you’ll no doubt have come across the phrase ‘Creative Wednesdays’.
We refer to them a lot since they’re a fundamental part of what we do at Kwalee, but in the past we have been less effective at explaining what they are – and why we are so passionate about them – to those outside our walls.
We want to correct that, so let’s go back to the very beginning. Ever since the formation of Kwalee in 2011, CEO David Darling was keen to have a dedicated day each week for team members to work on their own ideas, collaborate with one another and generally let their creativity run wild. In fact, the idea expands upon an earlier experience of David’s while CEO of Codemasters, where the idea for the legendary Game Genie device was formed over an idea-generation session one lunchtime featuring the heads of each department.
So Creative Wednesdays emerged as a response to two questions: why not create a way to harness that creativity on a more regular basis, and why limit it only to department heads? Wednesday seemed a good choice (hump day and all that), and this became an established perk for all members of the Kwalee team.
And at first, that’s all it was: a perk, a nice thing about working at Kwalee, but not the integral part of the company and its business that Creative Wednesdays are today. That’s because in 2018, at the same time as we dived with both feet into hypercasual game development, we applied a few key tweaks to the process that completely revolutionised it.
A Creative Wednesday in our old office featuring a much smaller team!
First, we made sure that it was open to absolutely everyone. Creative Wednesdays isn’t just about giving our game designers space to ideate, but also to give those in non-game development roles a chance to have a say in what we make. We know it doesn’t take an experienced and proven game designer to come up with the next hit game – just somebody creative with a drive to learn what players want.
Part and parcel of being a Kwalee team member is the knowledge that every Wednesday afternoon, you can have your game ideas listened to by the entire company – from the programmers to the marketing team and all the way up to the CEO and Chairman of Kwalee. That’s a powerful thing and not something we’d ever want to lose.
After that, it’s not a case of having your pitch approved by managers or higher-ups. Instead, it’s your peers you have to impress as game ideas are only developed further only when they get a positive response from the assembled audience.
Possibly the most crucial thing, however, is that we have enough faith in this process to make it absolutely central to everything we do. All of our biggest hits have originated from successful Creative Wednesday pitches – be that the likes of Looper and Go Fish! which were pitched and developed at our old studio, Shootout 3D and Draw It which emerged on Wednesdays at our current studio with its dedicated presentation space, and most recently Bake It which originated as an in-office pitch but became our first game to be completed and released with our entire team working from home, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A more recent Creative Wednesday in our new office – we’ve grown even more since!
And then there’s the final piece of the puzzle: our generous profit share scheme. This entitles everyone in the team to a cut of all company profits each quarter, but those who pitch or contribute to Creative Wednesday projects that become successful games are eligible for even greater rewards. You might have read that this scheme exceeded £1 million in payouts directly to staff in little over a year, which should give you an idea of how significant these rewards can be! It all begins with Creative Wednesdays and we don’t want that to change.
To give an idea of just how highly-regarded Creative Wednesdays are among our team, I asked some colleagues for their perspectives.
“My experiences of Creative Wednesdays, both pitching and as an audience member, have been nothing but positive,” says Anthony Pascale, a Lead UA & Monetisation Executive at Kwalee who successfully pitched the hit game Big Battle 3D alongside Junior Game Designer Bea Grove and me. “It’s very uncommon for someone in a marketing role to have the chance to even have their game ideas heard, let alone actually developed and released, so it was amazing to be able to do that. It’s one of the things I love most about working here.”
Jen Koch, our Junior Talent Acquisition Executive, agrees: “Even though the first game I pitched did not end up being developed, it was a brilliant experience and something I’m keen to do again. I have a little book of game ideas which I’m always adding to, and I know that many others do the same. For me, that team members across all disciplines are so engaged in coming up with great game ideas can only be a good thing for Kwalee as a whole.”
This is why we were so determined to keep Creative Wednesdays going even under COVID-19 restrictions, and while that obviously presented a challenge, I’m delighted to say that our digital Creative Wednesdays are running without a hitch!
Screens from a digital Creative Wednesday
For all our team members who love Creative Wednesdays, and particularly for those who have just joined our team at such a difficult time, we are adamant that being remote should not put a stop to a process that we take so much pride in.
Of course there’s no substitute for a Creative Wednesday in our office, but in the meantime we’re fully focused on making our online version as efficient, enjoyable and as close in spirit as possible the winning formula we’ve refined over a period of years.
And we hope that before too long, we’ll be launching our first game to begin as a pitch on a 100% digital Creative Wednesday.
If you’re interested in participating in Creative Wednesdays and the Kwalee profit share scheme, you can do so from day one of our many vacant positions. Click here to find out more.