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The Initiative

Senior Gameplay Animator

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The Initiative
πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Santa Monica, CA

The Initiative is an early stage first-party game development studio located in Santa Monica and part of Microsoft’s XBOX Game Studios. Our studio is about craft, creating story, innovating, and looking ahead to the next big thing.

At the Initiative, we are looking for collaborative problem-solvers who want to dive into something new and create groundbreaking experiences for our players. Join us for this once in a career opportunity to help build the studio, define culture, and create an environment to attract world-class talent.

The Initiative has an immediate opening for a Senior Gameplay Animator who is a passionate, talented, and driven animator, who enjoys collaborating with others to create immersive experiences, and has an extensive knowledge of animation fundamentals and technical expertise to help us define our animation pipeline and workflow. You are versatile, have strong development and production sense, and the expertise to inspire and mentor others to do their best work.

As a Senior Gameplay Animator, you will work directly with the art and design team and other key stakeholders across disciplines to deliver the following:


  • Collaborate with the design and engineering teams to quickly iterate on visual quality and feel of gameplay animation
  • Implementation and maintenance of animation work into the game engine, to ensure game requirements are met without compromising on animation quality. No β€œthrowing it over the fence” for other departments to figure out.
  • Work closely with Animation Leadership and other Art and Design Leaders to ensure unified look and consistent quality that serves the experience of the game.
  • Actively contribute to growth of new start up studio.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to learn: to give and receive feedback, collaborate with others to share techniques, ideas, and contribute to a positive working environment.



  • 6+ years of professional experience as a gameplay animator.
  • Strong understanding of the requirements of gameplay animation versus prerendered/cinematic animation.
  • Strong understanding of traditional animation principles, fundamentals and mechanics and ability to use them in a realistic style.
  • Proficiency in Maya.
  • Ability to quickly prototype and iterate in collaboration with other departments.
  • Strong communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills.


  • Shipped at least one AAA title in the console/PC space as a Senior Animator or Lead Animator.
  • Experience with implementing and managing animations in a commercial or proprietary game engine such as Unity or Unreal.
  • Experience and mindset towards how animation graphs and state machines can be used for the best quality in-game character performance.
  • Mindset towards streamlining and optimizing process and workflow.
  • Experience with editing motion capture in MotionBuilder.
  • Familiarity with cinematic animation, including the visual language of film and camera work.
  • Experience with facial animation and lip sync.
  • Scripting skills are plus.

Microsoft is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ancestry, color, family or medical care leave, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, national origin, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, protected veteran status, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by applicable laws, regulations and ordinances. We also consider qualified applicants regardless of criminal histories, consistent with legal requirements. If you need assistance and/or a reasonable accommodation due to a disability during the application or the recruiting process, please send a request via the Accommodation request form.

Benefits/perks listed below may vary depending on the nature of your employment with Microsoft and the country where you work.