Celebrating Fun to Gain a Competitive Advantage

December 11, 2013

Big Viking Games named one of top employers in Canada

Big Viking Games' team members at the launch of oneeleven in November 2013.

Imagine going to work every day to a place that declares having fun as its top priority.

Not a very productive approach, you might think. But you would be wrong.
Big Viking Games has just been recognized as one of the Globe and Mail’s 100 Top Small-Medium Employers in Canada. 

Since 2011, Big Viking Games has been developing games that are played by millions of ardent players around the world. Today, the company is Canada’s leading HTML5 mobile game development company and the only gaming company to make the Globe’s list.
“This recognition holds special meaning for us,” says CEO Albert Lai. “Our number one goal when we started the company was to be a great place for people to work, because we’ve always understood that great people make great product. We are in a very competitive environment, and we wanted to create an environment that would be coveted as a place to work.”
In only its second year of operations, Big Viking Games is one of the inaugural tenants in the new advanced accelerator space known as oneeleven. Located at 111 Richmond St. West in Toronto, oneeleven was co-founded by strategic investments from Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and OMERS Ventures, with Ryerson as the founding academic partner. Oneeleven is a community of the most promising and sophisticated data-driven entrepreneurs and home to some of Toronto's best technology start-ups with a focus on big data.
“In helping to create this unique space, OCE provided us with an unprecedented opportunity to grow our business while working amongst highly creative people in a vibrant environment,” says Lai. “It definitely has the vibe we want.”

From its home base in London, Ont., the company builds the world’s most advanced mobile web games using HTML5, creating experiences that were previously thought to be impossible inside of web browsers of mobile devices. This has allowed Big Viking to reinvent the way people play games, paving the way for seamless cross-platform gaming across devices. 

With the goal of attracting the best talent worldwide, the company built “an employee-centric and values-driven culture” providing progressive corporate-type perks such as catered meals, snacks, in-office massages, an in-office gym, and a Starbucks-trained barista. The company’s studio also celebrates fun through dozens of on-site gaming stations, foosball tournaments, a video arcade cabinet, a slot machine and monthly office parties and events.

But the appeal for employees extends well beyond generous niceties. The company consciously created a work environment conducive to innovation. “We want people to be able to collaborate and congregate in the middle of the office, to play games, to have meetings, to share ideas.” Numerous white boards and glass walls that can be scrawled also lend themselves to a spontaneous, inspired approach to work.

Second only to an edict to have fun is the multi-directional solicitation of feedback from employees and customers alike. “We want to hear from our employees and we actively encourage our employees to communicate with our players. Our goal is to make customers passionate fans of the game and make our employees fans of our company,” says Lai.
Also co-founder of the successful data analytics firm Kontagent, Lai says oneeleven will allow Big Viking Games to leverage big data to build games across platforms and gain a competitive advantage in the gaming industry.
“This amazing company is to be congratulated on all it has accomplished in such a short time,” says Dr. Tom Corr, president and CEO of OCE. “We are pleased we can play a role in furthering its success through the oneeleven experience.”