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What game design can teach us about team management

"There's significant overlap between good game design and good management theory," Crytek executive producer Joshua Howard said today at GDC Europe.
"There's significant overlap between good game design and good management theory," Crytek executive producer Joshua Howard said today. "Even if you never read a management theory book, you already know a lot about how to give good feedback." As part of a GDC Europe talk today, the Crytek exec explained that all developers should strive to make their teams better -- and that the rules of video game design can almost directly apply to working alongside your team. "Without feedback you can't improve," he explained. "Without feedback the manager and the team may or may not be on the same page - but giving good feedback can be difficult." Feedback received by players through video games is rather similar to the sort of feedback that needs to be applied to teams, he reasoned. In the same way that timely feedback in video games is necessary, for example, management should look to give developers in its teams timely feedback about recent work. And where feedback given to players should always be proportional -- for example, when you hit an enemy you should receive minor feedback, but killing a boss enemy should provide massive feedback -- so too should feedback to teams. "If a boss yells about everything, we don't know what is really important," reasons Howard. And at times you will need some encouragement as part of your job, but then there will also be cause for large celebrations. Another example: Players want to be able to celebrate in public, and show their friends their game achievements. Team members also want to be able to celebrate with the rest of their team when hitting notable milestones, and so arranging ways for them to do so is necessary. Following this rule of thumb and translating video game feedback into management feedback should result in the best style of management, says Howard.

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