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Knowledge management start or game over

Knowledge management (KM) in game companies

Introduction

Among plentiful burgeoning Internet enterprises, game companies are special. Different from material products, game developers provide services entertaining people. As part of postmodern subculture and social soft power, game companies, together with their new industry ecology, require new management methods especially knowledge management (KM) to deal with the intangible traits of their virtual service. This article will discuss KM in game companies in four aspects: leadership and organizational structure, culture, human resources, and marketing.

Organizational leadership and structure transformation

Game companies attach importance to organizational leadership and structure transformation. Walczak argued1 that KM including organizational structure optimizing will bring competitive edge to a company and lay solid foundation for corporate culture establishment.

Riot Games, for example, adopts horizontal management2, which means a flattening organizational structure with less managers and the underlining of equality. Realizing that the best ideas come from grass-roots staff, every Riot employee has discretion about game development and improvement via a knowledge sharing platform connecting to the corporate intranet. Riot also set up a team named Player Dynamics3 which studies player behavioristics and user portraits.

Similarly, Blizzard Entertainment motivates a equal knowledge sharing and learning atmosphere. Blizzard has a special team to manage intra-knowledge database and social e-platform for know-how exchange. Supercell separates game operation groups into tiny teams, each of which is responsible for one game product. This strategy enables employees to have jurisdiction over program design and creates open and equal working environment where knowledge sharing and rapid decision making is feasible.

Corporate culture

Corporate culture is another approach that game companies use to apply KM as soon as organizational transformation starts. Different from other Internet companies that emphasize technology, a game relies on cultural discourse to exist. According to a survey4 by Hewner and Guzdial, culture fit is top priority among employees, while programming capacity like C++ can even be learned on the job.

For example, miHoYo, a Chinese subcultural game company with slogan “Tech Otakus5 Save The World”, demands its employees have good knowledge of anime, comic, game, and novel (ACGN) culture6 because its game products have the same settings. It is only when miHoYo employees are familiar with the ACGN culture that the company considers that they can produce perfect content brainstorms and technological masterpieces.

Actually, corporate culture priority strategy isn’t a hurdle to technology development. It is pointed out7 that successful organizational culture fosters KM, which helps build trust, encourage innovation and technology development. Based on this recognition, miHoYo begins to filter employees adapted to ACGN from the very point of job interview; therefore, miHoYo’s Z-generation oriented corporate culture has strong centripetal force which wins its workers’ trust, making this company tower over its peers in ACGN detail depiction, game plot planning, CG animation production, and software and hardware stability.

Human resource management

Human resource management plays a key role in game companies’ KM. Afiouni concludes8 that human resource activities help increase the knowledge and skills of employees, promote corporate interaction and knowledge sharing, which in turn drives organizational performance.

Electronic Arts commits to a diverse and inclusive9 working environment. The company actively recruits and develops employees from diverse backgrounds and cultures to promote gaming innovation and creativity. EA also offers a variety of employee benefits and resources to support employees’ work-life balance.

Ubisoft, on the one hand, provides a wide range of internal corporate training courses and resources to help employees continuously upgrade their skills and knowledge and support their gaming career development. On the other hand, Ubisoft encourages employees to participate in the gaming community and connect with players to better understand the needs of the game which keeps them exposed to external knowledge. The fusion of internal and external knowledge boosts employees’ specialty literacy and skyrockets the company’s revenue.

Marketing

Lastly, many game companies use KM to improve marketing effects. With the shift from mass marketing to “one-to-one” marketing, the systematic application of data mining technology can strengthen10 the KM process, making the marketing personnel know more about customers and provide better services for them.

Epic Games is best known for its successful game Fortnite, which has a marketing strategy11 that focuses heavily on social media, online activities and in-game activities. The company tracks player feedback and data through KM to continually improve game contents and promotions to ensure they meet players’ needs.

Tencent Games is one of the largest gaming companies in the world, and its marketing strategy emphasizes the use of data mining for personalization in different markets. The company uses KM to analyze and understand the needs of various regions and audiences in order to adapt to the characteristics of different cultures and markets.

Conclusion

In conclusion, game companies use KM in four aspects. Game companies often build more flexible, open and expression-free organizational structure to make best use of knowledge; game companies use special corporate cultures to enhance technological innovation; game companies rely on human resource KM to tap the potential of employee; connecting data mining to corporate KM framework allows game companies to achieve higher sales targets. No matter how novel this industry is, game companies are using KM to be beyond comparison and annotate their own stories.

Article source: Adapted from Knowledge Management Start or Game Over, prepared as part of the requirements for completion of course KM6304 Knowledge Management Strategies and Policies in the Nanyang Technological University Singapore Master of Science in Knowledge Management (KM).

Nanyang Technological University Singapore Master of Science in Knowledge Management (KM).
Header image source: miHoYo.

References and notes:

  1. Walczak, S. (2005). Organizational knowledge management structure. The learning organization12(4), 330-339.
  2. Riot Games. (2017, November 30). Riot’s Agile Team Leadership Model: A Story of Challenging Convention. Riot Games.
  3. Hart, W. (2022, May 12). Player Dynamics Design: Looking Behind the Curtain. Riot Games.
  4. Hewner, M., & Guzdial, M. (2010, March). What game developers look for in a new graduate: interviews and surveys at one game company. In Proceedings of the 41st ACM technical symposium on Computer science education (pp. 275-279).
  5. Otakus, a word from Japanese, refers in particular to those who have wide interests in subcultures like anime, comic, game, and novel (ACGN).
  6. Liu, F. (2019, April 11). New research sheds light on online fandom in China. Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University News.
  7. Lam, L., Nguyen, P., Le, N., & Tran, K. (2021). The relation among organizational culture, knowledge management, and innovation capability: Its implication for open innovation. Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity, 7(1), 66.
  8. Afiouni, F. (2007). Human resource management and knowledge management: a road map toward improving organizational performance. Journal of American Academy of Business, 11(2), 124-130.
  9. Electronic Arts. (n.d.). Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Electronic Arts Electronic Arts Commitments.
  10. Shaw, M. J., Subramaniam, C., Tan, G. W., & Welge, M. E. (2001). Knowledge management and data mining for marketing. Decision Support Systems31(1), 127-137.
  11. Levin. (2023, October 11). Epic Games’ Post-Fortnite Marketing Strategy Evolution. WoodWardAvenue.
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Yiran Wei

Wei Yiran is Master of Science in Knowledge Management at Nanyang Technological University and Bachelor of Art in English at Sun Yat-sen University. He has experience as a public relations assistant at Sony China Co Ltd and translation assistant at Nanjing Xuefu Translation Co Ltd.

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