A Thinking Ape

We build communities through massively multiplayer mobile games

Software Development Engineer - Live Ops

Vancouver / Remote
Job Type
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About the role

Who we are

A Thinking Ape builds communities through mobile games with emergent social play and original IP. We released our first game in 2009 and have been profitable and growing every year since. We are a bottom-up-driven company of small teams exercising product ownership and data-driven decision-making. Our portfolio of games is growing, and with it, our ability to provide for more communities. 


What’s Live Ops?

Live Operations refers to the activities of a team dedicated to a dynamic and continually evolving mobile game experience. The everyday responsibilities of the live-ops team include:

  • Responding to player requests, game community activity and product metrics
  • The development of fun game mechanics and experiences
  • The development of community management tools
  • The creation and success of competitions and game events
  • Ongoing maintenance and performance improvements


What’s the role?

As a Software Development Engineer – Live Ops, you are integral to the ongoing success of our live mobile games. You enjoy taking part in product decision-making, working closely with Designers and Artists to develop performant and highly-scalable game experiences shared by massive amounts of concurrent users. You have a significant impact on player experience, and millions of people use what you create.


Things you could work on include

  • The technical design and development of game experiences, backend capabilities, and support tooling for our growing mobile games. 
  • Application performance testing and monitoring to ensure positive player experiences.
  • Involvement in every aspect of product development, from design to implementation to playtests to metrics analysis.
  • Maintenance of a build and release schedule for client updates.
  • The creation of tools to automate and optimize processes across disciplines, such as player management tools for the community team, data pipeline optimizations for game designers, or content pipeline tooling for the art team.


The tech

Our clients are built with Unity, and our backends use a microservice architecture, built predominantly with Python and MySQL. We make heavy use of Kafka, Redis, BigQuery, Kibana, and Prometheus. We aren’t bleeding edge, but we look for strategic points of leverage. 


The primary qualifications we’re looking for are: 

  • Data-driven tech generalists with full-stack engineering experience.
  • Experience working on a live product at high-scalability.
  • A track record of delivering scalable backend services or performant mobile client systems.
  • Product-mindedness and a willingness to take ownership over complete end-user experiences.
  • Excellent communication skills; able to share thoughts and ideas clearly in code and writing.
  • Experience using observability tools for metrics-based decision-making.
  • You have an interest in and play mobile games.


Some other things that help are:

  • Experience with event-driven architectures, distributed systems, and database optimization.
  • Extensive experience whiteboarding, diagramming and communicating highly-scalable architectures.
  • An understanding of mobile live-ops architectures and content pipelines.
  • Experienced with database design for high scalability.
  • Experience building Unity-based mobile games.


Remote first

We have committed to a remote first approach for 2021 with access to in-person collaboration spaces in Vancouver when safe to do so. Our intention is to use 2021 as the foundational year to develop our remote excellence and help shape the future of ATA. This means our roles are currently open to candidates who can work in Canada between the core hours of 11am - 4pm PST. We are open to help relocate the successful candidate to Canada.


While everyone on our team is different, to thrive here you should:

  • Be self motivated, take pride in your work and enjoy huge amounts of ownership
  • Set aside your ego and have wonderful arguments with your coworkers in order to create something better than any one person could individually
  • Challenge your own assumptions and use data to make decisions whenever possible 
  • Be passionate about teaching others what you know and continuing your own growth every day
  • Not be afraid to fail–you experiment and learn from your mistakes


What’s in it for you?

  • Challenging problems, a strong collaborative team, and supportive leadership.
  • Ownership over technical solutions and involvement in product decision-making.
  • A flexible and inclusive environment, including whatever equipment you need to do your best work.
  • A competitive compensation package that also includes budgets for health and professional development. 
  • A healthy review culture and team alignment towards engineering excellence.
  • Regular syncs with your manager, transparent leadership, and a direct hand in your professional growth.


Our commitment to inclusion

We build communities. To do this to the best of our abilities, we need a workforce that reflects the diverse player communities we serve. We believe a variety of perspectives and experiences allows us to make better decisions and understand the needs of our players. We work hard to create an environment where everyone, from any background, can do their best work and feel like they belong at ATA. 

Please consider applying even if you don't meet every qualification and let us know if you require any accommodations or support during the recruitment process. 


Discover more

Check outour story to find out how we got to where we are today, and learn about our culture by following @athinkingape on social. You can also listen to Kenshi Arasaki, ATA CEO & Co-Founder, talk about what it’s like to workhere.

Why you should join A Thinking Ape

Mission: We build communities.

Surrounded by mountains and water in beautiful Vancouver, BC, we are smart people who like smart people. We create mobile games with a social core that engage players and provoke us with creative new problems.

When we set out to make great games with massive online communities, we knew that we first had to create the ideal environment for building ambitious things. A place where brilliant and inspiring people could come together and build games that make millions of players happy. We realized that we needed to find incredibly talented people and get out of their way. Since then we've paid careful attention to how we like to work together. This is a brief summary of our guiding principles:

OWNERSHIP: We take complete ownership of our work and act in the best interests of the company. We’re the type of people who care - a lot. It’s never “not my job.”

HAVE WONDERFUL ARGUMENTS: We’re comfortable thinking deeply about important issues, and care enough to respectfully challenge decisions when we disagree. Mutual respect and checked egos allow for productive debate and better outcomes than any we would have achieved individually.

*THE BEST IDEAS WIN: *We want everyone involved in problem-solving, regardless of their position. We frequently seek feedback from each other and our players in order to challenge our assumptions, and make data-driven decisions when possible.

KEEP GROWING: We’re always building and improving on our skills and processes. We understand that when we learn, we see exponential improvement in ourselves, our products and our company. We’re never finished learning.

Together our values and mission are the driving force for why ATA exists and how we operate as a team. These cultural foundations are embedded in everything we do, especially in how we hire. We aim to hire people who share our values, believe in building communities and can add to our culture.