A Thinking Ape (W08)
We build communities through massively multiplayer mobile games

Art Director - Live Ops

Vancouver / Remote
About A Thinking Ape

Mission: We build communities.

Surrounded by mountains and water in beautiful Vancouver, BC, we are smart people who like smart people. We create mobile games with a social core that engage players and provoke us with creative new problems.

When we set out to make great games with massive online communities, we knew that we first had to create the ideal environment for building ambitious things. A place where brilliant and inspiring people could come together and build games that make millions of players happy. We realized that we needed to find incredibly talented people and get out of their way. Since then we've paid careful attention to how we like to work together. This is a brief summary of our guiding principles:

OWNERSHIP: We take complete ownership of our work and act in the best interests of the company. We’re the type of people who care - a lot. It’s never “not my job.”

HAVE WONDERFUL ARGUMENTS: We’re comfortable thinking deeply about important issues, and care enough to respectfully challenge decisions when we disagree. Mutual respect and checked egos allow for productive debate and better outcomes than any we would have achieved individually.

*THE BEST IDEAS WIN: *We want everyone involved in problem-solving, regardless of their position. We frequently seek feedback from each other and our players in order to challenge our assumptions, and make data-driven decisions when possible.

KEEP GROWING: We’re always building and improving on our skills and processes. We understand that when we learn, we see exponential improvement in ourselves, our products and our company. We’re never finished learning.

Together our values and mission are the driving force for why ATA exists and how we operate as a team. These cultural foundations are embedded in everything we do, especially in how we hire. We aim to hire people who share our values, believe in building communities and can add to our culture.

About the role

Who we are

A Thinking Ape builds communities through mobile games with emergent social play and original IP. We released our first game in 2009 and have been profitable and growing every year since. We are a bottom-up driven company with small teams that have a big focus on ownership and data driven decision making. Our portfolio of games are growing. We are scaling our marketing team and entering new markets to capitalize on this growth and bring our games to more players. 


The team

You will be joining our world-class live-ops team, Team Leviathan. There, you will lead a team of artists and other creatives on one of our live games which include Kingdoms of Heckfire and Party in my Dorm. Team Leviathan leads the industry in supporting and growing games, some of which have occupied the Top Downloaded and Top Grossing charts historically.  We’ve launched huge new features, tried some crazy interesting things, and taken creative risks. Some worked, some were a great learning experience. As the creative lead, you will be part of this strategy and have the opportunity to take your own big swings with the team in order to elevate our games to the next level. 


The job

As our games continue to grow, so does our game community’s insatiable desire for new and interesting content. We need your creative vision and leadership to grow the ever expanding titles that our players know and love. Whether it is adding exciting new customization features, or designing a team of C’thulu dragons to terrorize our players, our need for engaging new content continues to expand with our success. Working with our talented game artists, game designers and engineers, you will drive the creative vision and bring it to life across multiple titles. 


Things you will work on

  • You are responsible for the overall visual style of the creative
  • Oversee and mentor your team on the creation of assets and promotional material that push the artistic quality bar
  • Develop fun new content, events, narrative and promotions with the team and coordinate planning and deployment of live releases
  • Work closely with the Engineering Lead and Design Lead to set the overall product direction and maintain continued success of our live games
  • Solve high level problems and facilitate others to solve problems as well
  • Mentor and train all disciplines of creatives on the team
  • Form a strong grasp of the technologies used on our live teams so that you can train and troubleshoot with the art team
  • Constantly evaluate new tools and techniques in order to produce content consistently and competitively
  • Set and perform analysis on key performance indicators
  • Communicate your work and plans to not only your team but others at a studio level


Who you are

You are an experienced artist in the games industry who loves games, plays lots of games and knows the industry well. You are excited about leading and mentoring a team of artists to bring the creative vision of our games to life and willing to jump in and work alongside your team when needed. 

The primary qualifications we’re looking for are

  • Have shipped and led the creative team on live games in the past
  • People management experience leading a team of artists
  • Passion for growing not just your own but others’ art skills
  • You are a strong communicator and are willing to listen and learn from others
  • Experience with art asset creation process including concepts, modelling, UV/Texturing/Baking, rigging, animation, and rendering
  • Extensive knowledge in 3D pipeline software (Maya, Zbrush, Substance, etc)
  • Experience with asset pipelines and implementation (ex. Unity)

Other qualifications that help are:

  • Experience working in mobile games and live-ops
  • Senior level experience in an artistic discipline (Concept, Modelling, Animation, etc.) 
  • Previous experience launching a game in a senior role
  • Project management skill, you are good at communicating, documenting and collaborating across disciplines
  • Strong analytical thinking skills with the ability to collect, organize and analyze data
  • Eager to learn and curious about other disciplines
  • Extensive Unity knowledge, you know enough to train others and help develop art tools
  • Any other technical or art skills are a bonus!


While everyone on our team is different, to thrive here you should... 

  • Be self motivated, take pride in your work and enjoy huge amounts of ownership
  • Set aside your ego and have wonderful arguments with your coworkers in order to create something better than any one person could individually
  • Challenge your own assumptions and use data to make decisions whenever possible 
  • Be passionate about teaching others what you know and continuing your own growth every day
  • Not be afraid to fail–you experiment and learn from your mistakes


Remote First

We have committed to a remote first approach for 2021 with access to in-person collaboration spaces in Vancouver when safe to do so. Our intention is to use 2021 as the foundational year to develop our remote excellence and help shape the future of ATA. This means our roles are currently open to candidates who can work in Canada between the core hours of 11am - 4pm PST. We are open to help relocate the successful candidate to Canada.


What’s in it for you

At ATA you’re offered a flexible, safe, inclusive environment in which you have the autonomy to do your best work, surrounded by a strong team and with the encouragement of supportive leadership that doesn’t just care what you’re doing, but how you’re doing. You’re trusted, respected, listened to, cared for and valued. You take on thought-provoking projects and tackle fun problems alongside people who are equally invested in making meaningful contributions and seeing new ideas come to life. You know how your work aligns with the company’s goals. Your career is given the space and resources to progress. You accomplish things that make you proud. You are compensated competitively, your health and wellbeing are top priorities and you enjoy plenty of perks. You build communities, take ownership, have wonderful arguments, let the best ideas win and keep growing. You don’t just work for ATA, you are an integral part of ATA.


Our commitment to inclusion

We build communities. To do this to the best of our abilities, we need a workforce that reflects the diverse player communities we serve. We believe a variety of perspectives and experiences allows us to make better decisions and understand the needs of our players. We work hard to create an environment where everyone, from any background, can do their best work and feel like they belong at ATA. 

Please consider applying even if you don't meet every qualification and let us know if you require any accommodations or support during the recruitment process. 


Discover even more

Check out our story to find out how we got to where we are today, and learn about our culture by following @athinkingape on social. You can also listen to Kenshi Arasaki, ATA CEO & Co-Founder, talk about what it’s like to work here.


We use a wide variety of technologies to build our games and we try to pick the best tool for the job rather than what we've used in the past.

Our newest games' front-ends are built in Unity (C#), with older games built with many other frameworks including cocos2D, LibGDX, and native Android/iOS. Front-end engineers are focused on prototyping and polishing implementations of new features, optimizing game clients for higher performance, and building internal tools to automate processes across disciplines.

The back-end system is a microservice architecture that is shared across all games. Our back-end stack consists of Django (Python) with a MySQL database. We also make heavy use of a variety of other technologies including Redis, Memcached, Kafka, Docker, Kibana, uwsgi, and HAProxy, among others. Back-end engineers are focused on building scalable systems for massively multiplayer mobile games that will support thousands of concurrent users.

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