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On site: zynga, Lucas Arts & Double Fine

On 07, Mar 2012 | One Comment | In Blog

So this is the first part of my chronicles from the Game Developer´s Conference 2012…which is kind of ironic because I spent most of the last two days off conference on several studio tours.

Me and my fellow IGDA scholars had the chance to visit some big names from the industry: Lucas Arts, zynga and Double Fine.

Being well familiar with the companies´ history and games, it was super interesting to get some on site insights on their very different work culture.


At zynga we were welcomed by a colorful and communicative college-like atmosphere. The workspaces were all themed by the different products (zynga poker, cityville …). It felt almost lie a parallel world, as the staff seemed to even enjoy spending their free time to hang out in different social activities at the studio.

Despite their young attitude, the user research driven company seems to be totally happy with their conservative thinking towards new gaming concepts. In the end it´s the user research where they are really really good at. So it was not suprising when they told us that zynga´s next coup will be the expansion and transformatin of their new games platform (currently in beta) into a service for third party products. Zynga´s plan is to pass on their expertise in social games and their multimillion audience to other developers and thus enable them to feature more innovative products on in the near future.

Lucas Arts

Lucas Arts turned out to be the complete opposite in terms of the work atmosphere. Being situated in a calm and elite neighborhood with a breathtaking view on the Golden Gate Bridge, the company seemes withstand the highspeed zeitgeist of the industry. A reminiscence to the golden days of film?

We learned that synergies between Lucas Arts, Lucas Film and ILM were rather on a level of creative and intellectual exchange than on a technical level. Working almost entirely with the very strong and almost historic Star Wars IP, Lucas Arts today seems to stick very more to their tradition than to innovation.

Double Fine

After the big impact of Double Fine´s upcoming Adventure Game project that will be crowd-funded with over 2.5 Milion USD via Kickstarter, it was awesome to talk to Tim Schafer and two of his employees about their experiences and perspective on future financing structures for games. Having been dependent on publishers from the company´s first game on, Schafer today strives for a double role as developer/publisher.

The atmosphere at the studio was very friendly, productive and unpretentious. The employees´workspaces were individual and packed with passionate gamer accessories. – Definitely a place where you´d feel comfortable even throughout crunchtime. Despite being commercially successfull, Double Fine has mastered to hold on to the Indie Spirit of having fun in what you do and exploring new grounds.

A special thanks to Ashley Zeldin, Gordon Bellamy an everyone at IGDA who made this studio tour happen!


  1. Lisa Ruhland

    Ey… Dat is mein Papa neben dem du da stehst!!!

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