Journey, Skyrim, and Spider-Man Developers Announce Gardens, a Studio Built On Collective Growth

• written by Krist Duro

Co-founders Chris Bell (Journey, What Remains of Edith Finch, Sky: Children of the Light, Way), Lexie Dostal (Dustforce), and Stephen Bell (Blaseball, What Remains of Edith Finch), alongside a talented team of developers from projects such as Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clank, Skyrim, the Fallout series, Ashen, and The Hobbit, are excited to officially announce their remote-first studio: Gardens. Gardens is built on the initiative of growing a studio that’s transparent, sustainable, inclusive, and empowering. The team's core mission is to create vibrant online games that foster meaningful multiplayer moments and relationships between players around the world. 

With Gardens, we wanted to create a studio that cares as much about the health, happiness, and wellbeing of its team members as we do the craftsmanship of the games we create together. Our top priority is making sure our teammates enjoy their lives and are given the tools and resources to grow while creating compelling, well-crafted, thoughtful games that cultivate novel shared experiences between players online. ” - Chris Bell, Co-founder. 

Functioning as a fully remote studio, but based primarily in Portland and Los Angeles, Gardens’ name is rooted in the kinds of game worlds the team wishes to create. These artfully-crafted, living environments will be designed to foster rich multiplayer interactions while relying on care by their communities in order to thrive. They are games that aspire to cultivate lasting friendships (like Journey, Sky, or Way before them) while encouraging players to be considerate of each other and the world they inhabit together. 

Gardens is currently hiring for multiple positions, including 3D Artist, Animator, and Engineer roles; a full list of open positions can be found in Gardens’ career section of its website

An image showcasing the game described in this article.

Focusing on collective growth, Gardens offers competitive pay, equitable salaries across departments based on years of experience, mentorship, stock options, unlimited PTO, 35-hour work weeks, and robust benefits (including full medical and vision, dental, 401k contributions & more). 

I decided to join Gardens after my first meeting with the founders. They're such genuine and thoughtful leaders who understood all the reasons I left the games industry, and explained why and how they were going to do things differently at Gardens. I'm thankful every day that I get to help build a studio that is focused as much on creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected as it is on creating amazing innovative games.” - Sarah Sands, Executive Producer. 

Gardens’ upcoming, yet unnamed game, builds upon the special ways members of the team have designed shared online experiences in the past (Journey, Sky: Children of the Light, Ashen, Blaseball, Way), with players crossing paths in a mysterious and magical world driven by the concept art of ma-ko, art direction by Leighton Milne (Ashen, The Hobbit), and an art team led by Ryan Benno (Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clank). 

Veteran developers who have already joined the Gardens team include Executive Producer Sarah Sands (Fullbright, Nike, DirectTV), Lead Artist Ryan Benno (Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Telltale Games The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, and Ratchet & Clank), Principal Engineer Rose Dale (Skyrim, Fallout 3, Fallout 4), Senior Engineer Roldán Melcon (Blaseball, Where Cards Fall), Gameplay Engineer Tonia Beglari (Monster Hunter World: Iceborne XR Walk, The Under Presents), and Art Director Leighton Milne (Ashen, The Hobbit). 

Gardens raised $4.5M in an oversubscribed July 2021 Seed round led by Transcend Fund, with participation from 1Up Ventures, FunPlus, and David Baron of Rothschild & Co. 

Gardens is gathering brilliant, creative minds to grow and tend vibrant game communites built around lasting friendships. Partnering with passionate, talented teams like this on ambitious projects like this is very much what we created Transcend Fund for." - Shanti Bergel, Transcend Fund Founding Partner.

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