During a recent talk from Sony’s Shawn Layden at the Collision conference in Toronto, he shared what he thought was one of the biggest components to the company’s success. Layden pointed to diversity within Sony’s 13 development studios as one of the leading reasons for the company’s recent triumph in the console space:
The video game industry straddles creativity, innovation, entertainment, and technology in ways unlike any other industry. Our fans are boisterous, passionate, vocal, and extremely unforgiving. The lessons learned since the birth of PlayStation back in 1994 can serve many of you well, whether you’re a founder, entrepreneur, growing a start-up, [or] starting a business through this next wave of innovation.
We empower our development studios to constantly push the boundaries of gaming and give them opportunities to experiment and explore. We encourage them to take risks. We enable a culture that learns from mistakes and failures. As leaders, we encourage developers to act fearlessly and share new ideas. We try to be approachable, available, and responsive.
Layden then brought up the upcoming Ghost of Tsushima, and mentioned that its developer, Sucker Punch, could have easily simply made another Infamous or Sly Cooper game. He praised the studio for taking a risk on their current project, especially one so heavily rooted in Japanese culture while being built by a “100% American development team.”
He then continued:
People with different backgrounds bring new perspectives. They help ignite the creative spark by thinking differently. If your teams all look the same and act the same, if they all share the same history and the same point of view, your products will not evolve and will eventually become lackluster and unimaginative. Sameness is the death of innovation and creativity.
Media Molecule, the studio behind Dreams, was mentioned as a diverse group, with one-third of them being women:
The Media Molecule team is now roughly one-third female, but this has required a conscious effort and greater outreach, from being more experimental with recruitment and welcoming more interns and even young school groups.
It’s clear that Layden believes that creativity starts with a diverse development team, which it seems like Sony has been fostering for the past decade or so. Layden ended his speech with the following closing thought:
Build space for creativity, and for people with new and unique viewpoints, and your future will be brighter. You will innovate more. You will impact more people. And you will be here on this stage one day, advising future generations.