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Feature: 'SXSW: Counter-intuitive Creative Design with Harvey Smith'

In today's main Gamasutra feature, we cover one of the highlights of the SXSW Screenburn game-related panels, former Origin and Ion Storm designer and current Creative Di...
In today's main Gamasutra feature, we cover one of the highlights of the SXSW Screenburn game-related panels, former Origin and Ion Storm designer and current Creative Director at Midway Studios Austin Harvey Smith took the stage to offer his experience in creative direction and a counter-intuitive "hands-off" approach to creative design. In particular, Smith touches on the idea of "a layer of abstraction between creative director and the teams", something not always practiced in the game industry: "“I don't get to touch the game.” says Smith. “But I do touch the game indirectly, through all of them.” “So, here's a heretical concept, or it's a total common-sense concept, based on your views.” Smith said. “Creative directors shouldn't attend most design meetings.” He then explains, “I realized that about a year ago. I'd go to a meeting. I'd polarize people, because now they're not just arguing with their peers. They're arguing with the guy who gets the final decision. That changes people, psychologically. Further, I fall in love with the idea that came out of my mouth. Who's going to be objective about it? Who's going to later look at it and sort of test it?" "Assumably, since I'm the creative director, it's going to be hard for some junior guy to challenge me. He's free to do so, but I'll probably persuade him to go my way. By not going to the meetings, I can stay objective. I don't polarize people. Allow them to go away and come to their best conclusion. And then I look at it, and tweak the final ten percent on it.” You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including more on Smith's relevant, thoughtprovoking points of view (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).

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