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Passion is not enough!

This article describes the importance of passion in our work and why it is too often overrated trait of game development people and businesses.

This post was originally published on my own blog on 23rd March 2016.

Photo by Peter John Maridable. From Unsplash.

"I am passionate about game development and programming. I have strong passion to the strategy games and I've always liked to be part of the game development team to make them"

"We are looking for a passionate game developer to join our team!"

"We are group of passionate game developers trying to make our first mobile game"

"I am so passionate about my gaming company that I will work 12 hour a day and do everything to make this game see a daylight!"

and so on and so on..

I don't know about you but I'm quite fed up with how much this industry glorifies passion. Sometimes it feels like that there's nothing else except how passionate someone is about game development. Often it feels like passion has some intrinsic value. But it doesn't.

I think passion is overrated. Too many people think that passion is the ultimate mark of a great game developer. But it's not.

I have seen too many passionate job applicants to our studio that can't communicate how they could actually provide value to our company. They are all forgotten now in the sea of other passionate applicants who couldn't provide value to our company.

I have seen too many passionate game artists that single-mindedly want to do that specific style of art style to the game even if the rest of the team says that the art style doesn't fit to the type of the game they make. They all are now gone from our team.

I have seen too many passionate mid-level managers that think the more they micro-manage employees and sacrifice other aspects of their life, the better the outcome of their work will be. They all have burned themselves up and are now doing something else.

I have seen too many passionate studio leaders and CEOs who are so passionate about that specific project that they have ignored the business realities of their companies. They all are now replaced by others who are able to see the reality and make decisions based on those realities.

Fuck the passion! Or put more precisely; fuck the single-minded glorification of passion. Of course passion important, but it's only relatively important - not absolutely.

Passion is the starting point. When used wisely, passion is what drives you to be 1% better version of yourself each and every day. When you don't know how to use it, it drives you to the point of fear, jealousy and ultimately, burn you up.

Think value, not passion

In my opinion too many people are focused on passion and too few people in our industry think about creating value.

Job seekers, imagine what kind of mark you would leave to your potential employer's mind when you would unapologetically provide ten useful idea about their products, website, community or any other aspect of their business. How many job seekers actually do that when they apply for jobs?

Mid-level managers, think about what's the ONE most-valuable thing what you could today to provide value to your team and to your company? Sometimes it's just giving feedback on the game your team is making. Other times it's making those hard decisions on the project which the team cannot do. But to keep yourself sane, focus on making that ONE highest value action from your to-do list per day. If you are able to make more, GREAT! But don't plan to do more than one item per day. This is how I have myself actually increased my efficiency tenfold and also increased the quality of life tremendously. It's counter-intuitive but trust me, it works!

CEOs and studio leaders - I have the same advice that I gave to other managers. You see, the difference between the tasks of employees and managers/leaders is that managers must do tasks that have tremendous leverage to whole team and company, POTENTIALLY. By limiting your thought and decision making process to that one thing a day focuses you to actually select the tasks that have the biggest leverage.

So, dear CEO, think about that one idea how you could today advance the implementation of your strategy, provide value to your shareholders and create an environment for your team to succeed in their job. And act on it! 

Lastly, I write these articles because I have myself experienced a lot of different things during my (relatively short) career in game industry. I have been that passionate mid-level manager that burned himself up. I have failed many times, but I have always got back up stronger and wiser than I was before.

I am still passionate about games and game development.  But I have also seen that to be able to effectively use that passion, you have to take care of your mental, physical and spiritual sides as well.

I used to work 12-14 hours a day (which included 3 hours of driving a car to my workplace) and my mental model during those times were that I can only provide value by working hard. Nothing can be further from the truth. Now I work around 5 hours a day and I'm so much more effective! Less is truly more.

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