Uplift Games is a remote-first studio; we’ve worked this way to create Adopt Me from the very beginning; virtually communicating and collaborating across time zones to create future nostalgia for our Adopt Me players - and for our team. We aim to be the kind of studio we always wanted to work at, one that people will remember fondly. While we work remotely successfully and have regular virtual socials, we value how in-person meetings can help build connections and create memorable experiences.
Before the pandemic, the team had met around Roblox HQ. When restrictions began to ease, we were eager to bring people together, while keeping in mind Covid regulations and prioritising health, safety and peace of mind. In 2022, we arranged regional meet ups - Legoland Windsor for the UK team, and Universal Studios Hollywood for those in the US and Canada.
As our studio grows, it is increasingly complex to arrange for everyone to be in the same physical location at once. When we last managed to do so in January 2020, there were only 10 of us - three years later we’re 5 times the size and continuing to expand. As a one-off, we decided to organise the Uplift Conference, inviting all studio employees, enabling dozens who had been working together remotely to meet in person for the first time.
There were a few destinations we considered for the Uplift Conference, but ultimately South Beach with its subtropical climate, beautiful beaches, vibrant arts scene and natural wildlife attractions won out as the ideal destination to offer Uplifters inspiration and fun - and escape from freezing January temperatures!
Sunrise in South Beach, along Ocean Drive 📸 Vicky
We especially valued the abundance of animals and art in and around Miami and Florida. We have hundreds of creatures in Adopt Me - the Sunshine State has thousands, with 700+ terrestrial animals, 200+ freshwater fish, 1000+ marine fish, a plethora of other aquatic and marine vertebrates, and many thousands of insects and other kinds of bugs! Miami is renowned for its arts and culture - you’re never far from an amazing museum or gallery, or street art from local and international artists.
As conference kick off approached, half the studio made their way from their homes around the United States, and the other half crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the United Kingdom. The longest journey was 4000+ miles (7000 km)! The hotel’s rooftop pool, beach picnics and giant Jenga helped us shake off jetlag and ease into our shared setting for the week ahead.
DAY ONE - VALUES, SUPERPOWERS AND ESCAPE ROOMS
We opened the conference with keynotes from our leadership team, followed by our Head of Support Steven hosting the first in-person version of our weekly Studio Sync. We reflected on our company values with Heather, our Head of HR, and discovered our superpowers with Tom, our Head of Engineering.
Reflecting on our company values with our Head of HR.
Armed with our superpowers, we took over the South Beach Escape Room, splitting into groups to retrieve diamonds, rescue uncles and prevent biological warfare. Between missions, we enjoyed panoramic views of the city from the venue’s rooftop, feasting on tacos and playing lawn games.
DAY TWO - PECHAKUCHAS, HATCH PARTY AND CITY EXPLORATIONS
The next day, we had a morning of Pechakuchas (15-20 minute presentations), an exhilarating and informative tour across the studio’s disciplines and departments. As part of it, we had an IRL hatching party when the Consumer Products team distributed surprise plushie and water reveal eggs from our new Adopt me toy line!
An Adopt Me hatching party IRL thanks to our Consumer Products team!
After an afternoon of workshops, the teams explored Miami at night, some combining forces. Engineering dived into mirrored labyrinths and digital worlds at SuperBlue; Creative, Production and QA admired street graffiti at Wynwood Walls, Support and Comms smashed plates at the Museum of Illusions, while Operations navigated Ocean Drive.
The Production, QA and Creative teams admire street art at Wynwood Walls 📸 Xereina
DAY THREE - EVERGLADES TOUR AND ROOFTOP TAKEOVER
On the third day of the conference, we left the city for the Everglades, encountering wetlands wildlife via airboat safari. There are more than a million alligators in the Everglades, some of which we were lucky to see in the swamps.
Touring the Everglades via airboat safari 📸 Courtney
That evening, we took over the hotel’s rooftop for dinner and dancing. We “dressed to feel best”, whether that meant for comfort or glamour and enjoyed a playlist of favourite songs our producer Courtney organised. We passed around postcards - designed by our 2D artist Xereina - to write to the few Uplifters who couldn’t physically attend, and were much missed.
The Uplift Conference postcard designed by our 2D Artist Xereina
DAY FOUR - GOALS, EMPANADAS AND IMPROMPTU SOCIALS
On the fourth day of the conference, our Head of Support led a workshop on how we could all best support the Support team, followed by co-working and a weekly content release. In the afternoon, managers presented department goals for the year ahead, all of which tied into our over-arching company goals.
Our Head of Support leading a workshop on supporting the Support team
Dinner was DIY - learning how to make empanadas with our hotel’s head chef. Our final evening together featured spontaneous socials on the hotel terrace: QA tester Quinn led a Dungeons and Dragons character making session, and senior producer Becky staged our very own Taskmaster, assigning quests involving paper sculpture and palm leaves.
Adopt Me plushie Pet Rock eyes up empanadas 📸 Sara
DAY FIVE - MEMORIES IN THE MAKING
Once Uplift Conference officially wrapped on the fifth and final day, Uplifters set off for home, with memories of a busy week spent with colleagues, deepening friendships and making new ones. There were many highlights, but arguably the best part was getting to appreciate IRL what truly makes Uplift such a unique and special place to work - the people who work here.