Interview

How to get a job at Vancouver developer A Thinking Ape

How to get a job at Vancouver developer A Thinking Ape

For an overview of Vancouver studio A Thinking Ape, its history, and what it stands for, you could do no better than this guest article penned by Product Lead Will Luton.

Now in its eighth year, the firm has launched four vastly different titles - ranging from tongue-in-cheek college simulator Party in my Dorm to mutant-based strategy title SMASH Monsters: City Rampage and another in the works.

It's also looking to hire more apes, the name by which it affectionately refers to its employees.

So we reached out to People Team Lead Alysia MacInnes to talk vacancies, application tips, and company culture at A Thinking Ape.

PocketGamer.biz: Could you give us some background on A Thinking Ape and what you do?

Alysia MacInnes: Our company was founded by a couple of ex-­Amazon engineers who had an idea for a chat platform. They went through Y Combinator in 2008 and A Thinking Ape was born!

We’ve evolved beyond a chat platform into the mobile game space and some would classify us as just a mobile game studio.

But we see ourselves as much more. At our core, we build seriously strong communities.We’ve had clans go on group trips to Disneyland, and even seen marriages come out of our games.

Since our inception in 2008, we’ve grown year after year, and are one of the top grossing developers on the App Store. With millions of players worldwide, we currently have four live titles and one in production.

We don’t have an HR department at A Thinking Ape. We have a People team.
Alysia MacInnes

We don’t have an HR department at A Thinking Ape. We have a People team.

Our people are the reason we’ve seen the success we have, and my role as the People Team Lead is to support the organisation in creating an environment where the team can do their best work.

Whether that’s through finding the best talent, growing the skills of our current team or implementing new engagement initiatives, it all leads back to our overall goal of creating a place that people enjoy coming to every day.

What specific areas/disciplines are you currently hiring in?

With new products launching we’re looking for great people across the board! We’re hiring in all areas: creative, product, community and engineering.

That being said, our greatest amount of hires over the next year will be Software Engineers.

That is the area of our business that is seeing the greatest amount of growth and will need the most support as we continue to create new products and grow our existing communities.

As you're overseeing recruitment at A Thinking Ape, what do you look for in candidates?

We look at recruiting a little differently; our philosophy is to hire great people and get out of their way!

When it comes to technical candidates, we don’t look for a specific background or experience with a particular coding language, we look for great thinkers, who can analyse a problem and find creative ways to solve it.

We want people that will continually question the status quo and push themselves.
Alysia MacInnes

We want people that will continually question the status quo and push themselves and our products to the next level.

We believe if you’re smart and passionate you’ll learn the skills needed. So far that thinking has served us well!

Why do you think A Thinking Ape/Vancouver is a good place to work?

I think one of the best things about working at A Thinking Ape is the ability for anyone to make impactful decisions. 

Meritocracy is at the heart of what we do. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been here four days or four years, if you have a great idea and the data to back it up we encourage you to run with it!

The things our employees work on and the decisions they make impact millions of people, and they are given the autonomy and authority to make those calls.

A games night at A Thinking Ape

As far as Vancouver goes, it’s no surprise why it’s among the world's most livable cities. Where else can you snowboard down the mountain and suntan on the beach in the same day?

We’re impressed with candidates that challenge themselves in their personal lives.
Alysia MacInnes

A large portion of our team has relocated to work with us and you will find us taking advantage of everything Vancouver has to offer whether it’s the hiking club that climbs the local mountain every Monday, our company hockey and dodgeball teams, or the weekly pub trivia crew.

It’s a very active city, with something for everyone - skiing, hiking, biking, etc. - plus we’ve got a great art scene, tons of entertainment, world class restaurants... shall I go on?

What advice would you have for someone trying to get into the games industry?

We look for people that have a true passion for the industry and are continually learning; who are excited about building cool things, whether at work or on their own time.

What have you done to grow your skills and experience outside of your education? Have you developed your own app? Are you involved in the tech community? Have you competed in competitions?

We’re impressed with candidates that challenge themselves in their personal lives, chances are they’ll also challenge themselves professionally.

For a full list of vacancies at A Thinking Ape, you can visit its jobs page.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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