So you want to be a game developer

So you want to be a game developer

Great GDC 2019 talk by Richard Vogel who discusses his observations of what it’s like working in the games industry for over 20 years and the most important soft skills needed for success. Kudos to him for just giving facts about actual conditions and staying away from the modern desire to editorialize it.

This is a great no-nonsense talk by a guy that’s been in the trenches. As someone that worked developer relations with game companies – what he says is really true. The summary:

  1. Realities of job instability/layoffs, rapid and constant change, stress, little onboarding, training, mentoring, or career counseling. The reality is this is rough industry that chews people up if not careful.
  2. Hierarchies of perceived job role importance (programmers, artist, QA, etc)
  3. Identifying and matching cultural fit with your employer – indie or not. Top down/bottom up management, tech or design focused, etc
  4. Emotional awareness as most important key to your success
    1. Self awareness and ownership of your personal/emotional state.
    1. Self-management of your time/productivity.
    2. Social awareness of your environment.
    3. Relationship management – between coworkers, bosses, etc. Ability to work in groups and positive collaboration.
    4. People who rise are those that master both technical and soft skills.
  5. Dangers of Egos
    1. Humility is a skill. You can learn ego control. If you do not, egos will destroy you, others, and lead to poor decisions.
    2. Not to be confused with confidence. You must be confident to secure funding/etc. Body language too. Nobody will give work/$ to those with no confidence/body language/acting timid.
  6. Communication
    1. Listen, hear, and understand. Communication is NOT a huge thesis or manifesto. Learn how to summarize and be concise.
    2. Learn the soft skills of how to deal with rational vs emotional people. Introverts vs extroverts. etc.
    3. Learn how to address others in the right forum: public/private, etc.
  7. Stress/conflict management
    1. Dealing with super-heated conflicts. Do not respond by email. Take a break before you respond. Go for a walk first. Say you need to take a moment if it’s too much to respond.
    2. Use prayer, yoga, exercise to manage stress.
    3. Look where you are going, not back. Try to leave past hurts in the past.
    4. Focus on where you want to go, not looking back.

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