A new article on GamaSutra pulls a bunch of quotes from an interview with Blizzard EVP Frank Pearce, in which he talks about the difficulties Blizzard has in finding top talent for their demanding jobs. One solution they’re considering is to start offering more extensive training courses for existing employees, the way Pixar does.
A quote from the article:
“Specific projects aside, the talent pipeline has always been one of our biggest challenges,” Pearce explained. “So we’ve got a presence at GDC, to find some good talent, and we’re trying to figure out ways where we can nurture and grow some of our own talent internally.”
In the past, Blizzard has been compared to elite CG film studio Pixar—most notably, the comparison came from Pixar itself. Pearce said Blizzard has been mulling over the idea of implementing an in-house professional development and educational program akin to the filmmaker’s own Pixar University.
“We’re talking about what the Blizzard equivalent would be to Pixar University, if we can do anything like that to try to grow talent,” Pearce said. “…Obviously, a project and vision of that magnitude would have to be something that was built over the course of years. That’s not something you can put together in weeks or even months.”
“We have a learning and organizational development department in Blizzard,” he explained. “One of our corporate values is to learn and grow, so that department is part of that commitment to making sure people have the opportunity to continue to advance in terms of their skillset in the online space.”
“So yeah, it’s definitely something that we looked at, and we want to make sure if it’s something that makes sense for Blizzard, whether it’s something as ambitious as Pixar University or if it’s just something more modest in scale and scope,” he said.
From the sound of Pearce’s quotes, and the NYT article about “Pixar University,” it’s not like Blizzard would be bringing in bright 20 y/os and giving them some sort of two-year intern/study program to train them into future game artists/animators/programmers/etc. The concept instead is that Blizzard would offer lots of extra instruction (from their own employees as well as outside instructors) in skills useful to their employees. Thus making their current crew better at everything, for ongoing and future projects.