Global Engineers, Global Technology, Global gumi

Global Technical Direction

Director / Global Engineer

John Abrehamson

[ Career ]

2005 :Game developer at a game software company.
2010 :Joined gumi Inc.
2013 :Supported launch of gumi Asia Pte. Ltd
2016 :Appointed Director of Global Technical Direction at gumi Inc.

gumi has been focusing on global expansion as a competitive advantage. gumi's Global Technical Direction department, connecting engineers from Japan and overseas, is a symbol of this focus. I talked to John, head of the department, about the joys and challenges of working as a bridge between offices all over the world.

What kind of department is Global Technical Direction? (*hereinafter GTD)

GTD manages engineering for gumi's overseas offices (gumi Asia, gumi Europe, etc.). There are three main missions.

First, we cooperate with CTO and branches to sync direction of global engineering. There are a lot of gains that come from branches working together, both in terms of efficiency and game quality. We standardize things where standardization will be beneficial, while at the same time trying to avoid micromanagement for micromanagement's sake.

Second, we manage a communication hub - company-wide chat room, company-wide wiki, company-wide code sharing, regular branch meetings, etc. The goal is to make sure that knowledge and resources from one branch becomes knowledge and resources for every branch.
Recently there has been an initiative to convert more libraries into microservices, to more easily share across multiple dev teams.

Third, we are "bridge engineers" for JP games that are localized by foreign teams. In order to solve technical issues that arise when releasing Japanese games overseas, we bridge the original JP team with engineers from the global version. When bugs are found in global version, bridge engineer will work to assist, both by consulting with JP team and by directly working with the code. Bridge engineers are also directly involved in global version development.

GTD bridge engineer work is about 30% development, and 70% communication.

Tell me about a bridge engineer's work at gumi.

Bridge engineers are unusual in Japan's mobile gaming industry - they're a symbol of gumi's international focus, I believe. The main focus of bridge engineering is to manage code, resource and engineering flow between teams, but it also requires being directly involved with development to the point where bridge engineers become experts on game architectures, and can pass that understanding to engineers in our regional offices. Bridge engineers work with client, server, and infrastructure components in the same game.

"Bridge engineer" has an image of blindly passing resources and translating questions, but for gumi we can proudly say that bridge engineers are fully integrated into development. You can look at global rankings and say, "Hey, That game is me!". Or watch people in Reddit complain about the latest feature you worked on.


What's the appeal of gumi for you?

I think it's a very adventurous, risk-taking company, especially for Japan. I've been at gumi for 6 years now, which is a long time for game engineers in any company, and the reason is because gumi is constantly evolving, it constantly feels like a different place. I think that starts from the CEO - he has an appetite for adventure and trying new things. There's constantly a Next Big Thing, in a good way, and it pulls you along for the ride.

The style of the company makes global branches, global projects a much more natural fit than for traditional, more conservative Japanese companies. I was raised in Silicon Valley, but the feel of JP office and management makes me feel at home.

The company gives the opportunity to travel to foreign conferences such as GDC, WWDC, Google I/O, Oculus Connect etc. There are a lot of opportunities for business trips to gumi branches, filled with uniformly kind, awesome people. I'm really thankful to the company for that, and it's something I wouldn't get easily at other companies.

What type of colleagues do you want to work with?

First of all, someone who has at least business level English and Japanese. Generally information from JP games is pulled from JP teams in Japanese, and then we work with foreign branches in English. Chinese can be helpful also, for dealing with Chinese branches and partners.

GTD is also suited for people who enjoy learning about a lot of different technologies, at the expense of focusing on one technology in depth. Tasks for one day may focus around a Java server; the next day might be an issue with client side Unreal Engine SFX. GTD provides a fairly unique opportunity to touch a very large number of games and technologies - if that appeals, and global adventure appeals, then it's a good sign.

One more thing is that our department is suited for people enjoy independence and creating their own path. Bridge engineers are given goals, but there's a lot of freedom to choose the path to that goal, which can be both a good and bad thing. Personally one of my responsibilities is to make sure that everyone in GTD has their own career path, and that what they're doing in the company aligns with their personal goals.

For anyone who wants to touch all aspects of game production, and spread gumi joy to the world, please join us!

Personal Pastimes / Hobbies

1. Recently I made a "Tokyo Love Bear" app for iOS and Android. One of my 10 Things To Do Before I Die is "Help 2 people find each other and get married", which is a surprisingly hard goal, so recently have been playing around with apps with love themes.

2. This is another weird hobby, but I like isolation tanks. In Tokyo you can get 60 minutes in an isolation tank for around 5000yen - I know anyone reading this is laughing by now, but they really should try it.

3. I enjoy turning on Dance Central (Xbox) and dancing with my 3 year old daughter!


A Word from Colleagues


Masahito Ikuta

CTO (Chief Technical Officer)

(Ikuta) In Japan's headquarters, John is also a mentor who carries career support for junior engineers. He's a gentle manager who values ​​harmony.

(John) I think I'm a performance-based person to the last. Anyway, I want everyone in the team to get results and gain confidence.

(Ikuta) Keep encouraging technology exchange with our overseas offices, and please continue to lead the engineers of gumi!