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The importance of a holistic team, according to Microsoft's Lift

Giving your team the opportunity to share the same goals and successes is essential to building the 21st century video game studio, says Microsoft's Lift London studio head.
Giving your team the opportunity to share the same goals and successes is essential to building the 21st century video game studio, says Lee Schuneman, head at Microsoft's new Lift London studio. Schuneman, an industry veteran who previously worked as studio director at Rare for 15 years, founded Lift London last November. The studio currently employs around 45 people. In a talk at Develop Conference today, the studio head said that his core focus is on applying "The 21st Century Approach" to everything that his studio does, from development to marketing. In particular, Lift works around the idea of a holistic team, where everyone at the studio is empowered and therefore held accountable, leading to a better development process -- much like how Valve famously works. Schuneman also described a process called the "dotocracy," in which everyone at the team comes up with ideas at the start of a new project, and pitches the ideas to the rest of the team. Once all the pitches are done, each team member is then given six sticker dots with which they can vote for the most compelling concepts. This "creates a sense of heat" among the team, says Schuneman, and works well in place of having an actual player audience to judge the ideas. "It's as good a place as any to start," he reasons. In this way, Lift London shares many of the same ideals as the aforementioned Valve, and also Double Fine, whose "Amnesia Fortnight" initiative is very similar to Lift's dotocracy.

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