Addressing a gathering of tech entrepreneurs and start-up companies at the Collision conference in Toronto yesterday, Sony Interactive Entertainment chairman Shawn Layden shared his experiences managing the company’s 13 game development studios and some of the philosophies behind PlayStation’s creative strategies, including the emphasis on studio diversity.
“The video game industry straddles creativity, innovation, entertainment, and technology in ways unlike any other industry,” Layden said.
“Our fans are boisterous, passionate, vocal, and extremely unforgiving. The lessons learned since the birth of PlayStation back in 1994 can serve many of you well, whether you’re a founder, entrepreneur, growing a start-up, [or] starting a business through this next wave of innovation.”
Layden went on to express his belief that quality and creativity are intrinsically linked, and how the company’s focus on this has been key in its recent successes. He spoke of empowering studios to “constantly push the boundaries” and “give them opportunities to experiment and explore.”
One of the examples he used to highlight these methodologies in practice was Sucker Punch, the team behind the Infamous series, and more recently the upcoming open-world action game Ghost of Tsushima.
He spoke of how impressed he was not only that the team was enthusiastic about developing a new IP rather than a sequel to infamous, but that it would be willing to tackle a historical game set in a foreign culture.
“We’re very proud of the fact that this was a 100% American development team researching and honoring another culture, and its history and its beauty,” he said.
More than just risk-taking, though, Layden explained that studio demographics are an important factor in encouraging studio creativity. Both in terms of cultural and gender diversity, Layden believes that a successful studio is one comprised of developers from different backgrounds.
“People with different backgrounds bring new perspectives. They help ignite the creative spark by thinking differently. If your teams all look the same and act the same, if they all share the same history and the same point of view, your products will not evolve and will eventually become lackluster and unimaginative. Sameness is the death of innovation and creativity.”
He went on to highlight that while Media Molecule’s team is now “roughly one-third female,” it’s a dynamic that’s only been achieved through a “conscious effort and greater outreach.”
Layden concluded by reminding the attendees about the importance of establishing a company culture that encourages discussion and critique in the name of fostering creativity.
This article is based on a report from Gamesindustry.biz, where you can read much more about Shawn Layden’s speech at the Collision conference.