Location: Bellevue, WA
If the game Operation: Desert Storm was a bit before your time (1991), then you are probably familiar with the Bungie name thanks to the worldwide popularity of the Halo series. The game development company began in a Chicago apartment as the brainchild of Alexander Seropian and collaborator Jason Jones.
What to Expect
The independent game company made its first titles exclusively on the Mac platform, before expanding to PC and PlayStation 2. With the critical success of Oni, Microsoft took notice of Bungie and was so intrigued with the new genre-smashing title the studio had in the works that it bought the ragtag shop in 2000 to premiere Halo CE on the forthcoming Xbox system. The results of the Halo franchise’s triumph are well-documented, and in 2007, the studio reasserted itself as an independent entity by bidding farewell to Microsoft after the release of Halo 3. Over the course of Bungie’s self-imposed quest for world domination, the company has swelled from two guys in a dirty apartment to more than 200 employees situated comfortably in a warehouse-like building in Washington.
The vanguard of Bungie spent time in a cubicle farm, and they didn’t care for the stifling accommodations. In the new digs, workstations are grouped in “pods” by specialty, laid out over the building’s expansive floor space. There is a dark and moody ambience; presumably, the low light levels are more conducive to optimal visual display. (Also, it looks cool.) Walls are accented with splatters of colored light, and everywhere you look there are casually clad gamers sporting headphones and glued to double or triple widescreen monitors. The Bungie offices include an in-house motion capture studio (the specifications of which are a closely guarded secret), a stadium-seating theater, an elegant lounge, and a snack bar.
A look over Bungie’s manifesto reveals that the game developer prides itself on keeping a sense of humor about its humble beginnings and rise to power, and encourages a fun, lighthearted environment for its employees. The company strives to cultivate a non-corporate culture that is “slightly irreverent” and caters to the creative process. Operations are informal; rookies are encouraged to present ideas and challenge old thinking in the pursuit of quality entertainment and innovation. Cooperation and competition are hallmarks of the Bungie model: The annual pentathlon is an all-out throwdown between warring factions of staffers in competition for gamer bragging rights and a means of blowing off steam after crunch time.
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