Friday, May 12, 2017

Ideas and Execution in Game Development

http://indiewatch.net/2017/05/04/no-ideas-guy-will-not-make-game

Comment By Christopher Robin
   
*shrug* I tend to be the "idea guy" in the groups I work in, Maybe I handle it better than other idea guys, but it's not at all like how you guys describe. I typically handle the design, I'll focus more on systems and let the artists/writers focus on world and narrative. I will handle the production side of things typically because most other people don't seem to enjoy that aspect (I really like lists). I don't find other people to work on projects with me because I am lazy. I can code a bit, or learn to code/piece together what I need. I grew up artistic, and I can draw and paint. The problem is, I also work FT and want to transition from QA to Design. They tell you the easiest way to make that transition is to make games. Getting friends together to work on a jam, or an indie project is a good way for each of us to work on and display our skills. (I usually work with friends in QA that also want to transition)

Anyways, the vitriol I see in these comments is really disheartening. I grew up hearing that getting into games was a waste of time. It wasn't until I was about 25ish that I said screw the haters, left my sales job and started working at Nintendo. At Nintendo, I organized a group of people to work on an indie project, and we all learned a crap ton. I was more of an idea guy then, because I understood the development process less. If I had instead received this sort of response, the first project might not have happened - you know how I learned about the process and got better at it? By doing it. None of you are forced to help an idea guy, designer, whatever with his project.. but who the heck are you to question other people for getting excited with him.

Maybe I am misinterpreting what an idea guy is, but it seems to me like you guys are just crapping on hopefuls that haven't been as privileged as you are.


Steven's Response

Receiving the label of "idea guy" is not pleasant when it comes to the Gaming Industry. When you get called an "idea guy" it's usually not a compliment. If you consider the article linked above you will find out that according to some game devs --not all of them but some-- the "idea guy" is not really welcomed by the game dev team. Now let's talk about this label in detail. What is the "idea guy" label?

When you're called the "idea guy", you're basically viewed as the guy who hovers over the other game devs and give them your input without putting in a great amount of technical work yourself.  Recent history would tell you that people who are college educated and are qualified to handle all the super technical details of computer programming. If you have a college degree with flying colors in fields relating to computer programming, then chances are you're getting a free road to game development. 

If you happen to relate to the label of "idea guy" in any way whatsoever, then chances are you're going to have a much more difficult road to game development. That's the way this "game" is set up for devs. You either have enough skills to contribute to a game project or you don't, and if you don't you're encouraged to go to college and get a degree...

I'm not afraid to say that I present ideas to game devs. I don't think it's something for me to be ashamed about either because I'm letting people know what a consumer of video games is thinking. Ideas can be taken or left by game devs. Ideas are not set in stone. Ideas are always subject to change.

What I don't appreciate is that if I ever receive the label of "idea guy", then I will be looked at as someone who doesn't have what it takes to regularly contribute to a game dev project simply because I don't have technical computer skills that are up to par with everyone else on the dev team. I don't want to be viewed as someone who "doesn't get it" when it comes to the game development process. No, I do understand the dev process. I have constantly read about and studied the dev process. The problem is the ability to receive opportunities to work on a game project. 

You see, that's the problem with labeling in the Gaming Industry today. If you don't have the absolute best computer programming or designing skills then you will get kicked to the curb in favor of people who have such skills in spades. People wonder why it's so hard to enter the Gaming Industry today? Well...

I will circle this topic back to this point. Not everyone's situation is the same. You can't expect every single aspiring game dev you meet to have such a Grade A college education, and such a sparkling shiny resume that he or she will absolutely wow you the moment you start making a game. Your expectations need to be realistic. Of course it would be great if you were very talented in a certain computer field, but don't go the route of "labeling" when it comes to game development.

Some people are simply more privileged than others when it comes to available resources. For most of my life I have had to deal without the latest upgrades to hardware and software. I have been dealt with not so favored hands on this Poker table, so to speak. I have learned how to work with whatever it is that I had available to me. Sometimes that's really helpful because you can understand what it's like to not have everything available to you, and you're forced to make something work out of basically nothing.

I believe some aspiring game devs get intentionally lost in the shuffle in favor of those people who have the most appealing work resumes. Yes, reward those who have accomplished things. However, don't just shove aside those who have had their work cut out for them since Day 1. I believe there is great miscommunication in the game development scene today. "If you're not one of us college grads, then you can't hang with us." That's the mentality.

Why do you think that at least 90% of video game companies require you to have a college education when applying for certain job positions? That's because the people at the very top have been conditioned to accept that way of progression. That's how the people at the very top got to where they're at right now. They got their college degree and that's their badge of honor. When they use that college degree, they feel empowered to make the rules in the video game companies they run. The rules of applying for such companies are what they are. I'm not saying that's fair, because it's not fair if you ask me, but that's how the "game" is set up.

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