Juliet Adelstein addresses the issue of diversity in the gaming industry from the perspective of an inclusive employer.
Ganapati is an international group company with offices and game studios in London, Tokyo, Taiwan, Los Angeles, Malta and Estonia. Could you tell us a bit about the company culture at Ganapati?
Our company culture is something which is really important to everyone at Ganapati as it helps remind us of who we are and why we are different. We place great emphasis on the importance of diversity and how we utilise this to help us think outside the box.
Since our roots are Japanese, we also incorporate the concept of “Kaizen” into our company values, which is basically a reminder that we are constantly evolving and adapting, and that everything we do can always be improved on. Ganapati is a fun and energetic working environment, which welcomes “outsiders” – those who are able to view the industry from a completely new angle and help us achieve our goal of creating something which has never been done before.
How important is diversity to the company culture at Ganapati?
Diversity plays a huge part in Ganapati’s identity. We recognise the advantages of working in such a multi-cultural environment and really make sure to maximise them wherever possible. Diversity to us is all-encompassing – we don’t just welcome people from different backgrounds and cultures, but also look for a variety of different skills, in people from a variety of different industries. This makes our global skill base extremely comprehensive and quite different from that of our peers and competitors.
I think the way we acknowledge and choose to work with people who hold different values and views to our own definitely makes us stand out as a company. Ganapati is made up of such a mix of nationalities, languages, cultures and perspectives, that together we become a combined force!
Could you describe the hiring mentality at Ganapati? What is the ideal candidate profile?
When it comes to hiring, something which is extremely important to us is whether the candidate is a good fit for the team. We look for people who will positively contribute to the work environment and team spirit and who are eager to learn. Rather than decades of experience, potential is key – what someone is capable of is not always demonstrated by what is written on their CV.
We are also a company made up of extremely creative individuals, for obvious reasons, so people who bring an element of eccentricity to the team are always welcomed with open arms!
While strides have been taken in recent years to close the gender gap in the gaming industry, female representation is still relatively low, particularly in executive roles. How has Ganapati addressed this and what more can the industry as a whole do to overcome this prevalent issue?
Gender equality is something which comes pretty naturally to us at Ganapati, we have a fairly even representation of genders, even in executive positions. For us, gender isn’t something which even requires much consideration – we simply hire the best person for the job. Sadly equal representation in our industry is still lagging behind, and its overall perception is still heavily male-dominated, but I personally think that when it comes to hiring the focus shouldn’t be on meeting a “50/50” quota, but on what the individual can bring to the table, regardless of gender.
Great Beauties of China is an online slot game based on an ancient legend of four women from different dynasties. How do you ensure that you are culturally respectful in the process of making games, particularly those with a strong cultural resonance? Does the diversity of your employees play a role?
Many of our games are based on themes or stories from a particular Asian culture, whether Japanese or Chinese. We are able to create a game around these concepts in an authentic and respectful way because the people developing them are from those cultures themselves. Our development teams are based in Tallinn, Tokyo and Taiwan, and within each we have a diverse mix of talent from all over the world.
Great Beauties of China is based on the famous Chinese legend of the Four Beauties, which is widely known across Asia and still evokes a sense of mystery and intrigue in those who hear it. In creating this game, we made sure to go straight to the source and gather our information from those who personally knew the story and all it represents.
What influence does diversity have on the products you produce? Does diversity impact the authenticity of your games?
Diversity definitely impacts the authenticity of our games. If we were just a European-based game developer serving the European markets, for example, we would have a lot less scope to bring anything particularly new to the table without it being inauthentic. For us, our team is made up of about 14 different nationalities, who are all based in different parts of the world, which automatically gives us greater opportunities to create a diverse range of products. In our industry, the truly authentic products are easy to spot.
If we decide to make a Japanese-themed game, it is usually because a member of our team personally knows the topic – we always make sure to include lots of little details particular to that theme, which make it clear that we have first-hand experience of it.
What are your plans to ensure Ganapati is at the forefront of the industry for its inclusivity and diversity?
To be honest, looking at the industry as it is now, I can definitely see positive change taking place little by little. But to me, Ganapati has been a clear frontrunner when it comes to inclusivity and diversity from the first moment we arrived in the industry! Founded in Japan, with our head office in London, development teams in three countries and offices all over the world, the Ganapati Group couldn’t be much more diverse.
Even the combination of skills and professional backgrounds that our team members possess is pretty uncommon in the industry, but one which makes us stronger for sure.