Shawn Layden: COVID-19 is an Opportunity to Create a Better Work Environment

Shawn Layden: COVID-19 is an Opportunity to Create a Better Work Environment - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 01 July 2020 / 746 Views

Former chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios Shawn Layden speaking at Gamelab Live discussed the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on the gaming industry and how now is a good time for companies to that this moment in time to create a better work environment for their employees. 

Layden speaking with journalist Dean Takahashi has said the lockdown has "changed the way of life, it has changed the way of work, certainly."

"Teams that are having Scrum standups three times a week and looking at deliverables, and then being able to update source at studio from your, let's say, less than robust local telecom internet connection," he said. "There has to be a host of challenges around it. I'm heartened to see that the team has found ways to get through that -- certainly, the delivery of The Last of Us Part 2 has shown that you can finish off a game remotely."

Layden says that some aspects of development will be difficult to do remotely  and replicate with video calls. He specifically mentioned the "early ideation phases" of making a game, which usually benefits with groups of people working together with extended collaboration sessions. 

Shawn Layden: COVID-19 is an Opportunity to Create a Better Work Environment

"This is an opportunity, as we change our way of life and our way of work, to look at what it is we want to come back to," said Layden, who is currently on a sabbatical from his career. "People use the phrase: When are we going to get back to normal? As if normal is getting back to 2019. That world is gone. That world is now sealed in amber. Everything pre-virus is now a historical artifact that we can explore and look at and still take lessons from, but there's no getting back to that.

"People are beginning to reevaluate their own relationship with work. I think it would be unreasonable to expect that, even if a vaccine was found, that people are going to want to go back to work and do the 80 or 90 hour week at the office. And then come home, and try to recover over the weekend, and then go back into it. The pace of life is slowing down, and I think that's no bad thing.

"If we don't take something positive from this extended period of quarantine, we've really squandered the opportunity."

"We have to reexamine our relationship with work, how we get things done, how to work smarter, rather than working longer," he added. "Those have great implications for every industry, but gaming in particular.

"There was a point in the industry where everyone worked for Sega at one time, or EA at one time. And that was fine, because it was sort of a sui generis business. It didn't have any analogue out in the world, certainly from a console perspective. It's still the only business that has the hardware component integrated into software."

Shawn Layden: COVID-19 is an Opportunity to Create a Better Work Environment

"You don't grow a business by having the same people in a room making the same game -- 'Here we go, here's the game plan for Elves in Space 12'," Layden joked. "You won't grow the audience [with] that. We need new and different things."

"This is another vector of what was the 20th Century and what is the 21st Century," he added. "The uprisings we've seen in the last few weeks -- not just in America, but around the world -- in support of Black Lives Matter and all of the harm and hurt that's been done from a position of intolerance. We need to break that chain.

"We have to move forward. I don't want to repeat myself, but we can't squander the opportunity to do the right thing, to do a good thing -- not just in gaming, but full stop."

Thanks GamesIndustry.

A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel dedicated to gaming Let's Plays and tutorials. You can contact the author at or on Twitter @TrunksWD.

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V-r0cK (on 30 June 2020)

Way before the pandemic I've said that many of us have the technology to work from home and we should be allowed to. I'm loving that I'm working from home. The pros highly outweigh the cons.

TheLegendaryBigBoss (on 30 June 2020)

Perhaps working from home would become common even after the pandemic. For some people who need to move to larger cities where rent is stupidly high, working from home will be more feasible for them.

Blood_Tears (on 30 June 2020)

It's to bad he didn't stick around. He negotiated the Insomniac deal and then split. After that Sony didn't buy anyone else, shame.

KratosLives (on 30 June 2020)

I like shawn, he's a good guy

Tridrakious (on 30 June 2020)

He continues to impress me. A very well spoken individual.