I've only officially been in the game industry full time since fall of 2013. But I've seen a lot and I have learned a lot. Co-founding Limited Run Games has allowed me to meet people I've never thought I'd be able to meet and gather tons of loyal fans for a new company in such a short time. I've been able to see how someone's ego can be their own worst enemy, how not being honest with your fans can come back to bite you and how transparency is super important.
We can all recall something at some point in time in recent history that has shown a lack of transparency and how that can blow up. A recent issue would be WB paying for good reviews. It's fine to have secrets and in the game industry you are going to have some, signing NDA's is common practice after all. But having too many secrets regarding your business or what you are doing in the background can cause a lot mistrust with your fans, customers and future business opportunities. Regardless of the facts that may come out later to show you weren't being shady or doing something behind someones back, the damage is usually already done and it may be impossible to gain your reputation again.
Something I've always enjoyed and take pride in at Limited Run Games, is we are very transparent about our operation. You can click the Developers link at the bottom of our page to see how our business works. There are no shady contracts being signed. We may only be two people as of right now but we are super easy to get a hold of. We both have personal emails, twitters, etc. I truly believe being up front with your fans/customers is the best approach in the game industry. Especially when it can appear that there is always someone ready to tear you down and expose you as a fraud. We live in an age of trolls. You have to be prepared for that. Don't have a bad ego. I can attest that at times I've seen my own ego get out of control and had to bring it down a level. Having an ego is good, but don't let it be overpowering. You don't want a reputation for being full of yourself, hard to work with, or just plain rude. Be humble, be true to your fans, friends and customers. They will appreciate you more for coming off as a human being and someone that is just like them. Don't forget you would be nothing and nowhere without them. If you forget that, I can promise you they will remind you and it will not be a pretty scene.
Examples of people in the game industry I respect for being very open and up front are:
Rami Ismail from Vlambeer
He is very active on Twitter and Facebook. He may be overwhelmed at times or always traveling but he will eventually get you an answer to a question you have, regardless how trivial it may be. He is also great at emailing you back. It may take time due to having filters and so many emails, but he does the best he can. He is constantly giving presentations and is very open about what he does in the game industry and changes he would like to see.
John Hardin PR Manager for Atlus USA/SEGA of America
John is also very active on Twitter and at conventions. I respect him for the fact that he will give you an answer no matter how brutal it is. He is very up front and honest. He will go out of his way to find you an answer no matter what. He represents what I feel is a good PR Manager.
Some honorable mentions are:
Tanya Short from Kitfox Games (Writes a lot, works hard, honest and wants to change the industry)
Robert and Bill from Zeboyd Games (Small talented team, very active online and with fans)
Shane Bettenhausen from Sony (Sony account manager that is very open and easy to get a hold of)
There are many others I could add, but these are ones that have stuck with me while I write this.
Transparency is your friend. Don't back yourself into a corner with secrets or lies. I can't stress that enough. Does Limited Run Games have any secrets? Sure, but nothing that will damage us and not very many to begin with. Just remember whatever you think is a secret can and will be found out eventually. Play it safe and be transparent. Also keep that ego in check!
Transparency In The Game Industry