Senior Gameplay Animator

Last updated 5 days ago
Location:Santa Monica, California
Job Type:Full Time

The Initiative is an early stage first-party game development studio located in Santa Monica and part of Microsoft’s XBOX Game Studios. Our studio is about craft, creating story, innovating, and looking ahead to the next big thing.

At the Initiative, we are looking for collaborative problem solvers who want to dive into something new and create groundbreaking experiences for our players. Join us for this once in a career opportunity to help build the studio, define our culture, and create an environment to attract world-class talent.

The Initiative has an immediate opening for a Senior Gameplay Animator with a passion for games to join our team. We're looking for a passionate, talented, and driven animator, who enjoys collaborating with others to create immersive experiences, and have an extensive knowledge of animation fundamentals and technical expertise to help us define our animation pipeline and workflow. You are versatile, have strong development and production-sense, and the expertise to inspire and mentor others to do their best work.


As a Senior Gameplay Animator, you will work directly with the art and design team and other key stakeholders across disciplines to deliver the following:


  • Collaborate with the design and engineering teams to define animation pipeline and workflows
  • Work closely with Animation Leadership and other Art Leaders to ensure unified look and consistent quality
  • Work with experience teams to create previz, prototypes, and production animations to realize the look and feel of the game
  • Enthusiastically pursue learning of innovative production technologies and the capabilities/limitations of these technologies as they relate to the project goal
  • Actively contribute to growth of new start up studio
  • Demonstrate a willingness to learn: to give and receive feedback, collaborate with others to share techniques, ideas, and contribute to a positive working environment



  • Shipped at least one AAA title in the console/PC space as a Senior Animator or Lead Animator
  • Strong understanding of traditional animation principles and fundamentals
  • Able to demonstrate an exceptional visual and technical understanding of grounded and realistic animation mechanics
  • 6+ years of gameplay animation experience with keyframe and motion capture editing experience
  • Understanding of the creative and technical functionality and limitations of gameplay animation systems
  • Drive to push the quality bar and state-of-the-art of games animation
  • Expertise in Maya and MotionBuilder
  • Able to teach and mentor junior animators
  • Ability to quickly prototype and iterate in collaboration with other departments
  • Strong communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills


  • Demonstrated experience in developing and shipping content and systems in a published game with market and/or critical acclaim
  • Experience building and/or maintaining complex animation state machines
  • Familiarity with cinematic animation, including the visual language of film and camera work
  • Experience with facial animation and lip sync
  • Rigging experience
  • Scripting skills are plus
  • Experience with implementing and managing animations in a commercial game engine such as Unity or Unreal.

Microsoft is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ancestry, color, family or medical care leave, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, national origin, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, protected veteran status, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by applicable laws, regulations and ordinances. We also consider qualified applicants regardless of criminal histories, consistent with legal requirements. If you need assistance and/or a reasonable accommodation due to a disability during the application or the recruiting process, please send a request via the Accommodation request form.

Benefits/perks listed below may vary depending on the nature of your employment with Microsoft and the country where you work.