Awesome Day: 2018


Today marks Funomena’s 6th anniversary - as signified by our annual holiday: Awesome Day.

When we started the studio, Martin and I had just finished taking a break. We’d been traveling the world, accepting awards for Journey with our old team, and… I won’t lie. I had second thoughts.

I remember wondering: are we crazy? Should we have done this brash thing… moving from LA to SF, starting a studio with basically no experience running a business? Maybe we should have chosen the easy route and taken jobs at big corporations, or joined more established teams, where the financing and structure of the business were more solid? Maybe it was all … too much?

Looking back, while I can definitely say we had no idea what we were getting into… I’m also very grateful that we took the risk and struck out on our own. We have had the chance to learn so much, to work with so many amazing people, and I am so proud of what we’ve built.

As recent events at fellow Bay Area developer Telltale have shown, the games industry is a turbulent and unstable place. To lead under such uncertainty, you have to accept that running a game studio often means teetering on the edge of a cliff. Nothing is guaranteed. And as a result, it’s important to make each day the best it can be, and never take good fortune for granted.

And while no one can say for sure what the future will hold, looking forward is how we design. It’s the fundamental difference between humans and all other living creatures. We can imagine futures and then build them, together. Martin and I spent a lot of time thinking about this when we founded Funomena, and we wrote out our Values, Mission & Goals as part of that conversation. Today, we’d like to share them with you:

Funomena: Vision & Mission

What breakdown (challenge) in the world do we feel passionate about addressing?

People are not connected/present to themselves or the joy of life around them. Often, the entertainment we create exacerbates this problem instead of helping fix it. We would like to change that.

What Skills do we bring?

We can create art/games/experiences that revive this connection to the self and the universe, inspiring others to do the same. We can expose people to the beauty of natural and computational systems, in ways that encourage them to think differently about their impact and place in the world.

How will the world be changed as a result?

People touched by our work will feel a greater sense of purpose & understanding towards themselves and one another. They experience their innate playfulness, curiosity and creativity as powerful, positive & connecting force.

Primary Goals

  1. A healthy, creatively-fulfilling business that supports our families.  

  2. A team of likeminded individuals who expand the reach of our ideas.

  3. A series of products that unites people across cultures, through play.

  4. A recognized, sustainable process that inspires others.

  5. A consistently rewarding relationship with young talent & new ideas.

  6. A sustainable relationship with universities and foundations for good.

  7. A positive impact on the mental and physical well-being of this planet.

Looking over this list, I remember thinking that it was ambitious. I remember thinking that it sounded high-minded, maybe even a little academic… free of buzzwords so popular in Bay-area start up manifestos.

Now when I read it… what stands out most is the implicit aspect of our stated values.

  • To build the kind of team we wanted to be around and make the games we wanted to make - we would hire diversely.

  • To reach our goal of being sustainable, we would find partners that paid us fairly for good work.

  • To build a strong studio, we’d work on innovative titles for both established & emerging platforms, with both experienced and young talent.

  • We would support a culture of humane, person-first work, and build a deliberately developmental culture.

  • And in that culture, all of us would be able to admit when we were struggling, ask for help, and work outside of our day jobs to give back as teachers, mentors, family and friends.

Year 6 was a big one for us. We shipped Luna, we began working on the Magic Leap. We also began to wrap up Wattam. We hired several new people (we’re now 28 strong!) and we had not one, but TWO funomenal babies. We were featured in Edge twice (once on the cover!), won several awards, moved into a nice new office, and travelled the world sharing our games with all of you.

This leads to the most important fact: we would not be where we are today without your support. Thank you for believing in us, cheering us on, and most importantly, for playing.

Here’s to year 7!