Seems that one Vancouver gaming company was already mixing it up in Beijing long before the world’s attention got focused on the Olympics. Next Level Games has reportedly been running an art studio in support of its video game products since September 2006 (Canada.com).
The story holds that Next Level decided to open the studio to maintain more control over the process that gets lost from outsourcing (although the distinction between traditional outsourcing and opening an overseas studio that hires a bunch of talented Chinese employees is a bit fuzzy to those of us who lack MBAs). The studio seems to be working well, though the predictable cultural and corporate-cultural misunderstandings have arisen. Next Level President Douglas Tronsgard reports in the story:
As part of its credo, Next Level encourages its employees to engage in “constructive conflict,” voicing opinions about the company and its products. Unbeknownst to them, however, the Mandarin word for “conflict” is “warfare”, so employee feedback was in short supply.
Fears of high staff turnover were unfounded, though. The studio in Beijing is humming, helping produce titles for for the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii gaming platforms. Nice to know that video game employees somewhere in the world are holding onto their jobs.