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Randy OConnor, Blogger

September 9, 2010

4 Min Read

This is to anyone who wants to get into and stay in the game industry.  [It was inspired by commenters on this site.  It is not my usual interaction and game philosophy talk.  Apologies.]

Stop being a jerk!

The comments around this site have been pretty frustrating lately.  Comments around the web are always frustrating, you might say.  But this is a developer-focused site with people you might be working with at some point.  I see your comments.  Other important people see your comments. 

Now let's talk about courtesy.

Courtesy is really important if you want to smoothly move from one job to another.  The game industry is constantly in flux and, unless you work entirely on solo projects, you must rely on people to say, "I would love to work with you again!"  They need to say that for one of two main reasons.  Either you are incredible at your job and merely working with you will get that person to their goal, or you are a good co-worker and people want to work with you because you will make their workday better.

Do not underestimate the power of how you treat others.  EVEN if you are incredible, people will definitely remember how you treated them more than your skills.  Everyone wants into the game industry, believe me when I say there is someone else as good as you.  AND that person is nice too!

When I first started reading Gamasutra I was just beginning high school.  I was not really aware of the little subtleties of going from job to job.  Back then I was just trying to make chess pieces battle with giant glowing swords.  (Yay for making 3d chess pieces with the Lathe tool!)  If you are one of the countless aspiring game-anything-people like I was, if you want to work for any legitimate organization, you either have to be John Carmack (hint: you're not), or you need to be recommended to get any decent job.

I cannot tell you how important it is that you treat people with respect.  Even people you disagree with.  Even people you don't like.  That's the whole point of being nice.  Don't kick someone when she is down!  It is how you treat all of your coworkers that matter.  Because maybe you are the problem!  Because if you want to work at a company with more than five people, you want all the people in your little art or engineering pit to respect you, you want your boss to respect you.

Now that's not to say you have to be positive about everything.  I should make that clear, because that seems to be what really trips up people.  You can be critical, but you need to be critical of the work, not the person.  One of the most valuable lessons I learned in college was critiquing art.  The best art was created through a process of failure and iteration, and it was only because of helpful comments that it became great art.

And there was lots of criticism.  My friends and I would eagerly gather around and say what we loved and what didn't work about our projects.  We did not attack each other, we analyzed the work we had created.  What you write, what you draw, what you program, can always be revised, be aware of that.  A helpful and open attitude takes your work to the next level.  I love critique, I live for it.  But I do not like hostility.

Why did I write a whole blog post on being courteous?  Because I know that you, just like me, are reliant on the courtesy of others.  We are a big dysfunctional family of game developers.  And if you are a jerk, there is a decent enough chance I will find out and do my best to not work with you.  So you should probably clean up your act.  Because I'm sorry, but I would rather work with nice, rockstar developers. 

[note: if you are nice, keep it up!  and mebbe i can find out 'n we can werk together on a sweet game. k?  cuz that'd be coolio.]

Randy is currently spending lots of time making art for Tiger Style Games, another unnamed game company, and Foolish Games. 
Follow him on Twitter.

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