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Feature: 'Becoming a Stellar Games Industry Manager, Part 3'

In the latest part of his Gamasutra original series on being a stellar game development manager, author Marc Mencher teaches the importance of communication (while previous parts have d
In the latest part of his Gamasutra original series on being a stellar game development manager, author Marc Mencher teaches the importance of communication (while previous parts have dealt with growing a team and building a team), including tips on sharing ideas and networking. In this excerpt, Mencher explains that while communication is key, an important component to this, team meetings, need not been viewed as simply a necessary evil, but rather as an important factor in creating great games: ”Meetings are pretty much unavoidable. They can be a frustrating waste of time or a productive way of fostering teamwork and team spirit. Making team meetings effective is a major test of your leadership skills. The key to a productive meeting is to involve everyone without letting anyone hijack the agenda. Prepare agendas in advance with input from the team. Regardless of your team structure, someone should always take minutes and distribute them to the team (consider having a rotating secretary – don’t automatically assign that task to the girl on the team!). Team and progress meetings should be held at least once every two weeks to keep everyone current. Ask everyone to come prepared. Start meetings on time and keep them moving (people lose their concentration after a hour.) Encourage everyone to have a say, but ask them to keep it relevant and brief. Be sure meetings don’t degenerate into arguments with finger pointing, me-too-ing or “off-topic” discussions. The point of the meeting is to keep to the task at hand.” He adds: “You may need to take a group or a topic off-line, as it were, and get it resolved in a smaller meeting. And ask people to turn their cell phones and instant messaging off. Nothing is more infuriating than losing a game because of chatty teammates who won’t focus or play their characters according to their particular skills. When the party is lying dead on the battlefield, the cleric who decided she just had to be a tank might not be invited back. In a similar manner, unfocused work meetings can drag a team off course, sometimes fatally. Be sensitive to schedules during crucial production phases. A pizza lunch may be a lot more effective than an entire afternoon off-site if deadlines are looming. Do the big celebrating after the product has shipped!” You can now read the full Gamasutra column on the subject, including much more from Mencher concerning the importance of and benefits from solid communication within a team (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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