Investing in the Creative Profes­sional


Explo­ration and creativity make the workplace happier and more produc­tive, which is why we hold an annual Jam Week. Once a year, the studio pauses all daily tasks and dedicates a week to creative freedom, which we call​“Jam Week”. Before the five-day event starts, Schell Gamers craft proto-pitches, gather materials, and form teams. Our team members use Jam Week to exper­i­ment with tools, hone their skills, and work on passion projects. Their goal is to learn something new or create an expe­ri­ence to showcase at the end of the week. We’ve found that dedi­cating time for Jam Week makes our staff more energetic and engaged at work, which makes for a happier workplace with great employee retention.

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Fostering creativity in the workplace allows employees to have new expe­ri­ences while also giving them the freedom to challenge their intellect, improve teamwork abilities, and reignite their passion. The benefits defi­nitely outweigh the costs, which is why researchers like Harvard Professor of Business Admin­is­tra­tion Teresa Amabile are studying the benefits of creativity in work envi­ron­ments. She found that employees tend to be the most creative when they are granted the freedom to choose their goals and how to attain them. With encour­age­ment from exec­u­tives as well as resources like time and money secured in advance, employees will expe­ri­ence increased morale, passion, and problem-solving abilities.

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I believe that creativity leads to produc­tivity, provided that the workplace envi­ron­ment is developed and nurtured in a way that allows the two to peace­fully co-exist.”

PGi CEO Boland Jones

Sched­uling this time for teams to freely express them­selves makes our studio a happier place, despite the haphazard nature of a typical game jam. A game jam is a gathering of people for the purpose of planning, designing, and creating one or more games within a set timespan. Naturally, this kind of time-constrained rapid proto­typing can often lead to failure. However, nurturing a creative envi­ron­ment in the workplace gives people the freedom to fail. The fear of failing often cripples inno­v­a­tive ideas in studios. One of our key prin­ci­ples is to be brave, so miti­gating the fear of failure during Jam Week means that we can pursue new ideas and ship amazing expe­ri­ences. Games such as Until You Fall, Happy Atoms, HoloLAB Champions, and Orion Trail were all worked on during Jam Week.

Lauren Jam Week
No matter what proce­dures you have in place, it’s only the creative confi­dence and drive of indi­vid­uals — and the collec­tive intel­li­gence of teams — that takes companies to new frontiers, revealing a better world and boosting an organization’s bottom-line perfor­mance.”

SHAMBAUGH President Rebecca Shambaugh

Words like profes­sion­alism and creativity are not mutually exclusive. At a glance, they seem to be opposites. Creativity can’t be measured or quan­ti­fied whereas profes­sion­alism seems produc­tive and more quan­tifi­able. Despite these snap-judgments, research from the IBM Global CEO Study states that creativity is the most crucial factor for future success. 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 indus­tries said that creativity builds a profes­sional envi­ron­ment better than qualities like rigor, manage­ment disci­pline, integrity, and vision. They found that exploring creative solutions led to better profes­sion­alism, which posi­tively trans­formed their orga­ni­za­tion structure, finances, human resources, and strategy. Due to the accel­er­ating complexity of tech­nology and how it’s recon­structing the world to be a massive, inter­con­nected system, it’s no surprise that the creative profes­sional is leading the way toward further inno­va­tion.


Image via Fast Company

Thanks to solutions like Jam Week, we can provide a work envi­ron­ment where creative profes­sionals have the freedom to innovate and explore. Working on projects in the studio is rewarding, but focusing on a passion project for a week is a priceless expe­ri­ence. Our efforts have proved successful thus far, in that Schell Games is an award-winning company and is marking its tenth consec­u­tive year as one of Pitts­burgh’s Best Places to Work.

The dream of working on video games is to be able to work on whatever wonderful things are in your imag­i­na­tion, and that’s a beautiful dream, but the reality is that there are so many constraints of what we can do that it can be confining. To be able, once and a while, to take those constraints away and say​‘no really, do whatever you want’ is a great feeling and something I think is very worth­while.”

Schell Games CEO Jesse Schell