What it's like working at Riot Games

Jon Pan, production manager at Riot Games, levels with the fans about working there.

Riot becomes your life. Since I started working full-time, there have only been a few weekends that I haven’t worked (think 1-4 hours spread over a weekend, not 8 hours). I want to make it clear that this is my personal choice and not something forced upon me.

Secondly, we are a 24/7 global live service (our players don’t just play 9-5). Personally, I turned down a 9-5 job which paid 25% more to be here. Why? Well, because that was a “job.” Riot has a mission that I believe in. This isn’t some crap that’s printed in some brochure that we keep in our drawers. I don’t even have a drawer…this shit is for real. This is like me saluting the American flag during reveille every morning when I was in the Army.

So what does that mean for a candidate? Sometimes, I see or hear about frayed relationships and that’s on you to get straight. It’s on you to figure out work/life balance. Riot doesn’t force anything on you. I have never been pressured to work more. I just end up wanting to work more.

Love the first comment: I don’t work for them and Riot became my life.

While it is easy to say that it isn’t forced. If the culture is built around extra work hours, you personally will need to take part as well to both advance and be accepted into the culture. When I had my stint at Turbine, even though I was there early in the morning, (usually worked 7-5) and did what was needed on the weekends it was still noticeable that I wasn’t in the office after 5pm. Sadly, people in the office after 5pm were those that didn’t even come in until 10am, but again, the culture defined there was that working late was the way to prove your investment into the company.

I’d love to work for those guys

I’m sorry, but that’s such a load of crap. I don’t mean to say that he doesn’t believe what he’s saying, or that he doesn’t truly want to work weekends or love his job–er, “mission”. But if he really thinks that others in his company don’t feel pressure to “love the mission” or “fit in” or whatever then he is woefully (but, perhaps, typically) unaware.

I say this having absolutely no knowledge of Riot Games or really any other game studio, but having heard those kinds of statements far, far too many times before.

edit: “that’s a load of crap” refers to the original quote, not the intervening ninja-posts.

This isn’t a humor piece?

Pretty much. He even admits that you need to that type of person to be heard at Riot.

Kudos to him for being frank and upfront about it to employment candidates. You can’t be mad if you join Riot after he straight up tells you this.

Personally, no thanks. My 25-year-old self would’ve probably jumped at the opportunity.

Except for the part where he says that “Riot doesn’t force anything on you”.

Edit: what I mean is that he should stop pretending that it’s optional, which is what I think he’s doing when he says, “It’s on you to figure out work/life balance. Riot doesn’t force anything on you. I have never been pressured to work more. I just end up wanting to work more.” I fully agree with you that he should be frank and upfront. Just take it one step further and cut the last bit of BS.

I can’t fault him for the same HR BS that’s standard everywhere. First, I’m not sure it’s BS to him. He’s obviously very passionate about Riot Games and I’m sure that to him working OT is part of the fun. If you’re working there, you’d obviously have just as much fun on OT, right? RIGHT!?

Oh boy. An office full of swinging dicks. Where do I sign up.

I dunno. When I was 24/25, I worked for an association in DC where the standard was a 35 hour work week. That’s certainly the hours most of the staff that was paid hourly put in. I typically put in about twice that, and sometimes more, often working on weekends. I wasn’t required to do so, but in order to do the work well (and do it correctly), it just took that long. I never felt pressured to do it, but, hey, it’s not like I had much of a life anyway, and, more importantly, I enjoyed what I was doing.

Now, 15 years later, with a wife, two kids, a dog, a mortgage, and lots of outside obligations, there’s no way I would choose to make those same sacrifices. But since I did it to myself when I was 25, I can understand where the Riot guy is coming from. I think it’s just that, as you get older, you realize that you can’t work like that without major sacrifices. When I was 25, I didn’t really have anything to sacrifice, so it was easy for me. Today? Not so much.

Let’s face, it’s rare to find an office that doesn’t have more than its share of swingin’ dicks.

After reading the whole comment section I went through all the GlassDoor reviews and its not a pretty picture. There are a ton of reviews with all 5s and a 4 in quality of life. But if you go through the whole list you start to get to the reviews that are real. And boy are they damning. Some of the criticism sounds like general tech culture, especially the references to “frat culture” and the importance of booze but, others are specific to riot. Anytime people refer to “circles of trust” that’s a HUGE red flag.

I guess that’s kind of my point. It’s the same HR BS that’s everywhere (and I also don’t doubt that he believes it, btw). But I don’t think it deserves kudos for being frank and upfront.

I don’t doubt that you worked longer without being pressured to do so. I also don’t doubt that he doesn’t feel pressured to do so. But it sounds like that wasn’t the predominant culture at your place. I’m guessing it is the predominant culture at Riot, because everywhere I’ve heard people–managers, especially–go on about this kind of stuff, it is the workplace culture. And it’s fine to be honest and upfront about this sort of thing, and say that you shouldn’t work here if you don’t love the job. Just don’t pretend that there’s also room for people who want some sort of work-life balance. (And maybe there is, but I doubt it.)

There’s a big difference, I think, between actually having a job you love and working all hours at it, and thinking, “I do really like working here, but I want to do X this weekend. Everyone else talks about how much they love being here. Am I a bad person?”

oomalley, I think he is being frank about it. He believes it, so he wouldn’t think it’s BS. He can’t spotlight an issue if he doesn’t know about it. In fact, I’m sure many people there and at other jobs that don’t have mandatory OT but crunch anyway think it’s all kinds of awesome.

If you’re a young tech person going for a gaming industry job, I assume you’re smart enough to put two and two together. If the recruiter tells you that OT isn’t mandatory, but everyone at this company loves working here so much that everyone does it anyway, and you need to be hypergrowth to the max to team to win, blah blah, then you should be able to do the HR math and figure out what’s really expected.

Experienced tech industry people can repeat the BS with a straight face and even very convincingly pretend to buy into it. Nature of the beast.

Especially true for someone at a management layer writing something for public consumption.

You think he’s full of it. I think he’s sincere.

Either way, we agree that working at Riot requires a certain mindset that wants to spend a lot of time in the office.

This is much the same no matter where you work. I am one of those early risers and have usually been the first or second person into work, often before 7 AM. Yet I am fully aware of the queer looks I have received when leaving at 4:30 or 5:00 from those who straggle in at 9 AM and work to 5:30 or 6:30. Now that I am a consultant, it does not matter much anymore what hours I work since they are all billable.

This is one of those weird moments of clarity where the personality of the internet is so striking that it leaves echoes across everything else I read.