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How game devs around the industry deal with imposter syndrome

A handful of game makers who feel like frauds share their thoughts on the topic of imposter syndrome with Polygon, and how those feelings affect both their personal and professional lives.

Alex Wawro

January 22, 2016

2 Min Read

"I swing from, 'Why doesn't anyone understand this thing I've been intrinsically understanding for the last 20 years of my life?' to 'Oh my God, I don't know what I'm doing.'"

- Bungie designer M.E. Chung opens up about how it feels to work in the game industry.

Game developers who sometimes feel like imposters should know that's normal, and they aren't alone.

A handful of game makers from studios large and small shared their perspectives on the topic with Polygon for a feature about game developers who feel like frauds, and how those feelings affect both their personal and professional lives.

"I often compare myself to games that I want to be," Max Gentlemen developer Ryan Wiemeyer told Polygon. "So like Super Hexagon is a beautiful, simple game that was targeting some of the same platforms and was a similar play length and I loved how tight and wonderful that experience was. So I kept looking at our game and being like, 'It's not that game,' and feeling bad about it. Then it made me scared to share the game with people, which is also a huge design taboo — you need to constantly be getting feedback."

That's well in line with the advice Kitfox Games director Tanya X. Short offered in a great blog in 2013 about overcoming imposter's syndrome as a game maker.

She advised developers who felt like frauds to cultivate constructive criticism, offer help to their compatriots and take risks, since their "comfort zone" was proving uncomfortable anyway. Destiny designer M.E. "Emmy" Chung seems to have found success doing something similar, as she told Polygon that she draws strength from helping her fellow developers.

"For me the fastest way to not feel like a fraud is to genuinely try to help someone else succeed," Chung said. "If [Facebook COO] Sheryl Sandberg still has impostor syndrome, I'm probably never going to get over it. And that's OK."

The full article, which includes further comments from Chung and Wiemeyer, as well as Gunpoint developer Tom Francis, game designer Chris DeLeon and sound designer Stephan Schütze, is worth reading over on Polygon.

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