Friday, February 10, 2017

Remote Working and Game Development

One interesting topic that I think isn't discussed so much in places like the Gaming Industry would be the event of having someone work remotely to advance a game dev project. Working remotely is a concept that can take employees and employers in a myriad of directions, and depending on the kind of work that needs to get done things can either go very smoothly... or not so much.

Most game dev company jobs that you will see listed on websites will be tied to a specific location, meaning that if you apply for a job with that company you should be prepared to pack up your things and go to that specific location, working side-by-side with the rest of the game dev team. For example if a new startup game dev company takes root in Seattle, Washington and they have plenty of openings for aspiring game devs like you and me, then you can bet that at least 90% of those job openings will be filled by local Seattle talent or Washington state talent. If you happen to specialize in remote work through the internet, your chances of getting noticed seem to be put at a disadvantage right from the start compared to workers whom the Seattle company can see in-person.

How do we fix this? Well, it's simple to suggest that a game dev company just have a few designated job openings for remote workers only, so therefore when one is applying for a remote job that person will know that he or she is competing against other remote workers for that job, and not just on-location workers. I guess what I'm hinting at here is that there are certain parts of the job application process in the Gaming Industry that need to be re-evaluated and changed.

It also boils down to the basics when an employer looks for the right employee. Is this remote worker worth the gamble? Does he or she possess the qualities that we, the game dev company, are looking for to keep us going forward in projects? The key traits in any worker, remote or on-location, that I know matter to companies would be the following:

1) Trust: When hiring a new employee you have to be able to trust him or her to do the job that you assign them to do. Trust must be established right off the bat, especially after that new employee is hired. 

2) Passion: Does the new employee have the passion and fire to excel at the job that he or she will work? Does the new employee care about the job? How big is the employee's passion for the Gaming Industry? Is that passion something the game dev company can use for all the right reasons?

3) Consistency: It's one thing to work on a job and get assignments done, but it's another thing for a new employee to stay consistent at it. Is the new employee getting the work done with consistency? Are the end results of projects properly lined up with the schedule of the employee? 

4) Willingness to Learn: For a new face on the game dev team there has to be that willingness to learn new things while working on an assignment. Whether a project is a success, failure or anything in between, did the new employee learn anything from that experience? 

I believe that if remote workers clearly possess these listed qualities through the work that they do on the internet and by way of communicating these qualities back to the game dev company, then there is no reason why they shouldn't be at least talked about when filling a job position.

Trust always ranks at the top of my list because I know that you need to be able to trust someone to do the work. His or her track record will tell you right away if they can be trusted. Passion is what helps drive the Gaming Industry itself. You gotta love what you do, making games and creating experiences that gamers will enjoy. Again with the track record, you gotta be consistent at the job you're applying for. You gotta show the employer that you know what you're doing. Finally, don't keep a "single track mind". Learn new things while you help your team develop a game. Keep trying to learn new things because that opens up more opportunities.

In summary, is remote working bad for the Gaming Industry? No, of course not. It's really about how the game dev company will manage remote working positions and how they can fit those positions around the flow of the on-location workplace. As a game dev company if you know that you have remote workers who possess qualities like the ones I listed above, then you won't have anything to worry about. The game dev company won't miss a beat if everyone is on the same page, no matter where they are to work.

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