20 years of Yager: Berlin studio as an attractive employer

20 years of Yager: Berlin studio as an attractive employer

On the occasion of the company’s 20th anniversary we talked to Yager’s Managing Director Timo Ullmann about the Berlin developer/publisher as an attractive employer.

Read also: 20 years of Yager: Timo Ullmann about the beginnings of one of the few german AAA-studios

Making Games: What does Yager stand for? What makes you as a company particularly attractive for employees?

Timo Ullmann: You would need to ask our colleagues to get to the bottom of this, but I feel YAGER is an international team of very passionate, creative and skilled people bound together by their love for video games and entertaining people. We are set up in a way that is intended to empower our people, let them do what they can do best, and we try to support them in many ways toward that goal. YAGER is also regularly reinventing itself in order to get better. But the bottom line is, we love what we do, and we love our people.

Do you see yourself as a talent factory?
Definitely. We have so many skilled people that it amazes me.

How many and which nationalities work for you?
I believe there are people of 20 nationalities right now. About half of our people are, of course, from Germany and all over Europe, but we also have a lot of staff from the Americas, Australia, and Asia. This international aspect is a key success factor for YAGER. Having so many people with different cultural backgrounds in our team is a great benefit.

What is the percentage of women at Yager? Are they more involved in design, or do you have female programmers?
It‘s currently 10 percent, which is way too low for our liking. We have had female colleagues in all kinds of areas: designers, programmers, QA, Production, and HR. Our goal is to hire more female colleagues. If you know any who are passionate about making games – please refer them to YAGER right away. We‘d love to speak with them.

In the 20 years since its foundation, Yager has moved several times and now offers its employees generous office space in the middle of Berlin.

Excessive crunch times are an evergreen topic in the gaming industry. How do you deal with it?
We had our share of crunch during Spec Ops: The Line. It was unhealthy and counterproductive to efficiency and morale. We don‘t do crunch anymore, and we have measures in place to not burn out people and make sure they can rest and actually have a life. The fact that YAGER is responsible for all aspects of The Cycle from development to publishing is also allowing us to set the right priorities and avoid crunch. But we learned the lesson several years ago that crunch is no good, so we were „anti-crunch“ before it even became a thing.

Berlin has become one of the major industry strongholds. How difficult is it to keep the good people in the company?
It is always a challenge to hire the right people and to keep them. There is a huge competition for talent going on. Not just in Berlin, but worldwide. The right combination of exciting projects, good working conditions, and a favorable work-life balance is helping us attract and retain staff.

How has your work life changed in the last 20 years?
During the making of Yager (the game) I was a programmer on the project as well as a Managing Director. When the team got bigger, it became clear that I needed to focus on one of these tasks in order to do a good job, so I quit programming and have been focusing on Management and Business Development since then. There are also changes just associated with being 20 years older, being a family man rather than a young single guy, for example.

How is a typical working day structured (regular meetings, special features)?
This really depends. Each team has its own structure, and the workload also depends on the phase that they are in (planning, sprint, etc.) The vast majority of how the work is planned, scheduled, and executed is done at the team level as we have quite a high degree of autonomy. Personally, almost all of my days are comprised of regular meetings, time at my desk, emails, and special occasions, things that just come up and need to be dealt with.

What would you like to give to young developers? What mistakes should you avoid?
This is really hard to answer. There are so many different ways about how to get started. From our experience, it would be: assemble the right group of people and just do it. That‘s what worked for us. Follow your dreams and don‘t be concerned. But also seek advice from people you know and admire.


Interested in working at Yager? Open positions at Yager.

More from Yager available at makinggames.biz in the next few days.

Timo Ullmann
Managing Director YAGER
1999 and together with four good friends, Timo founded YAGER to pursue their dreams of creating captivating Computer and Video Games. In the beginning, Timo worked as a hands-on programmer on their first game. A year later and with a fast-growing company, he changed his role to the Managing Director of YAGER with the focus to turn the studio into one of the leading games development studios in Germany.

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Source: makinggames
20 years of Yager: Berlin studio as an attractive employer