Design Manager, Games - The Initiative - Xbox Game Studios

Last updated 7 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 that attracts world-class talent.

We are looking for a Game Design Manager to lead, grow, and develop the brightest industry-leading Game Design talent in the AAA game development industry, leveling up our fantastic talent to meet the studio’s ambitions to create cutting edge, immersive story-telling experiences. To be qualified for this role, you have the desire to innovate in a new space and experience in Game Design or Game Production, as well as experience managing large teams.

In this role, you are responsible for growing and maintaining a high-achieving, high-functioning Game Design team, including generating energy, creating clarity, defining and driving outcomes, while monitoring and addressing roadblocks or friction points that slow down the well-being, team health, or general performance of your team, individually and as a unit.

Additionally, you will partner with other key leaders to establish strategic Game Design direction and prioritize product design deliverables, talent resourcing and budgets for the team, as well as break down large and complex problems into solvable chunks.

Success for this role will be measured by your ability to build and support the team to improve key metrics that result in shipping a AAA game, while also actively developing an inclusive, positive working environment.

You are asked to inspire those around you, deliver on empathetic people management skills, and feel comfortable in sometimes ambiguous, always ambitious environments. You may be expected to roll up your sleeves and support product outcomes as a hands-on Game Designer and/or represent your function in meetings that require Game Design leadership.

As an experienced Game Design Manager, you will lead a Game Design team and work collaboratively with other key stakeholders across disciplines to deliver the following:   


Managerial Leadership:

  • Actively participate in building a diverse team, including attracting talent, including but not limited to: talent attraction, sourcing, screening, hiring, and long-term engagement. Balance the development of existing employees while bringing in new external and internal talent.
  • Partner with Production, studio leadership, and/or HR to build, manage, and audit short-term and long-term Game Design workforce plans that span all assignment types, including full-time, short term, and contract assignments. Partner in hiring strategy and procurement of talent and talent solutions.
  • Manage resourcing for Game Design, including workforce planning, procurement, contract management, outsourcing, tasking, time, and scheduling. Budget management may be expected.
  • Create an inclusive and invigorating work environment where every employee can effectively engage, and wants to be part of the team. Provide ongoing feedback that helps your direct reports improve their performance.
  • Identify gaps in knowledge or experience on team and partner with key leadership and production to drive for solutions for deficiencies, and as needed, up-skill resources and/or reports to meet project and/or career objectives. Participate in and evangelize key career coaching, training, and development opportunities.

Production Leadership:

  • Partner with Leads and production to develop Game Design workflow, plans, and tasking around current milestone goals, resource availability, capacity and capabilities of the team, and other key data and metrics.
  • Drive creation, implementation and improvement of the production process and workflow. Partner with key stakeholders to ensure clear and consistent communication of process and goals within the Game Design team and across discipline.
  • Define Game Design time, output, and quality expectations. Monitor and hold Game Design product owner accountable to recommendations. Track, monitor, and adjust expectations to meet and/or exceed project goals. Strategize to meet Game Design milestone goals, leveraging the strengths of your team.
  • Evaluate and adjust workflow, tools and communication, as well as software and hardware requests.
  • Represent, lead, and/or participate in Game Design reviews.
  • Create and maintaining a scalable engagement framework that maximizes the reach and product impact of the Game Design team.

Other tasks:

  • Create and maintain guidelines, best practices, and standards across Game Design and/or Game Production documentation.
  • Responsibilities may include Lead responsibilities, including working across disciplines to define and meet cross-team project goals and milestones, ensure task and goal clarity, and drive teams and deliver project impact and output on time and on quality.
  • Responsibilities may include some execution and delivery of output, which could come in the form of quality content, asset, or technology delivery that help achieve milestone or project goals.


Minimum Qualifications

  • At least 5 years of direct people management experience.
  • Full-cycle experience shipping one or more AAA game as Game Design Lead or as a Game Production Manager, including successfully managing a Senior-level team under ambitious deadlines and/or quality standard.
  • Expertise with commercial game engines.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Demonstrated experience producing cross-functional, creative development teams and resources that meet quality and time expectations.
  • Familiarity with various production management methodologies and techniques.
  • Excellent organizational & prioritization skills.
  • Ability to work well in a fast-paced, multidisciplinary start-up team environment where you’ll be expected to wear multiple hats and move frequently between projects.
  • Excellent communication skills.

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.