02/13/2017Josh Maida

Houston, we have a game company

There are two H-towns in the US: Honolulu and Houston. We are in the second.

Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, rarely comes up in the video game industry. When it does, it’s usually in conversations about Serious Gaming, and rightly so. Houston is home to some serious business; we have people training to work in outer space and at the bottom of the ocean. We have others advancing the fight on cancer and designing nano-tools that aim to revolutionize medicine and energy.

Houstonians come from all over the world, and it’s not because of our scenic beaches.

They are brought here by curiosity, passion, adventure, and determination. These “cowboy values” that Houston celebrates aren’t only bred here, they’re drawn here — by people who venture into the unknown and accomplish marvelous things.

On my son’s first day of kindergarten, the school hosted a morning event called “Tears and Beers” (that can’t be right — but something like that). After dropping their kids off, parents are invited to meet in the library for coffee, donuts, and emotional support. My wife and I went.

I got to chatting with one of the other dads. He was English and his wife was Scottish. What a coincidence! I brought up my upcoming business trip to Scotland and, it came up that he had just returned from Cologne, Germany. Another coincidence! I was just in Cologne, Germany too! “What for?” he asked. I told him I was at Gamescom, preparing for our upcoming video game launch that January, which I thought was pretty cool. Surely he was impressed.

As it so happens he had been in Germany preparing for a launch as well… to outer space.
He was an astronaut, and he had a ticket to leave the planet. How quaint.

(Maybe it was called “Hugs and Mugs”.)

This doesn't mean it’s not totally cool to work in video games in Houston. While others in the city are performing zero-g tests, having their lab coats decontaminated, and pulling ancient life out of the ground to fuel our cars, we are creating fun for other people. We participate in everything from conceiving, directing, and producing our products to attracting, serving, and supporting our players. And we love what we get to do.

We come from an assortment of backgrounds; grads of everywhere from Harvard University to the School of Hard Knocks, and students of everything from math and science to art and literature. We have team members from places like Apple, Blizzard, and Carbine, to Xerox (not Xbox...yet), YAGER, and Zynga. And like Houston itself, we have a sturdy bedrock of native Texans that is enriched by people from across the nation and the world.

And our Six Foot band continues to grow - we now occupy three office locations in Houston, known internally as ‘Bama, Richmond, and Phoenix. It’s not an ideal situation, but we are in the process of remodeling a new large space that can house all three Houston offices, with room to grow. We are hoping to move to this new location over the next few months.

We anticipate the new space to be a larger version of our current spaces, replete with with Star Wars posters, artwork from our games and old agency projects, and, of course, action figures (one is seven feet tall!). Imagine a co-op of media consumption, creation, and celebration: games, comics, film, television, music, and actual books!

Our workdays vary from team to team, but it is all in support of the belief that entertainment is a noble profession. We do our best to have a growth mindset when it comes to the how we work. I won’t bore you with all that can be said on this topic (well, maybe a little), but this means a few things:

First, we embrace challenges. We won’t achieve anything worthwhile if we are afraid to take risks. And taking chances, even with the right head and heart, means making mistakes. When we do, we quickly acknowledge them, learn from them, and get back in the saddle.

Second, when we hit setbacks, we don’t look down on each other for saying “I need help” or “I don’t know.” The only stupid question is the one that doesn’t get asked out of pride.

Third, while we are working on projects, we are always working on ourselves. We expect everyone to always be learning. As a company we do our best to support this with time and tools, but it ultimately the personal commitment that yields the best results. Everyday is a lesson. Laurels are for tombstones.

We may not be curing cancer at Six Foot, but we aspire to be as bold — and hope the stories and characters we create will inspire the ones that do. We take our work seriously, but not ourselves, and we do our best to have fun in the process.

Stay beautiful, Honolulu.

“We won’t achieve anything worthwhile if we are afraid to take risks”