Can the game industry make telecommuting work for its employees? Midway and Maxis veteran Jake Simpson looks in detail at how game developers can set up a remote working-friendly ethos
- and make better games along the way.
Can remote working work? Simpson notes that Epic Games saw its beginning as a 'virtual company' from 1992-1997, and notes a number of other current developers employing the technique:
"Linden Lab (Second Life) operates about 30% of its 200 people remotely, Introversion (Darwinia, Defcon) also operates a loose work-at-home program internally, and Wideload (Stubbs the Zombie, Hail to the Chimp) builds all content via remote contractors, so it's definitely possible.
But, Simpson warns, the practice isn't universally perfect, especially across all roles within a studio:
"Something else to consider is the understanding that this is not for everyone. And that goes doubly for managers. To work remotely, successfully, takes a specific frame of mind. You can't just close the office tomorrow, have an infrastructure in place and assume everyone will just do dandy.
There are those who can work remotely and there are those who find it hard - and that's no reflection on those people. It's just simple recognition of the fact that there are people for whom this will not work.
There are those who want to be in an office interacting with people all day and cannot function any other way. However, you need to be able to identify those people when interviewing so you can pass on them if you are 100% working remotely - it'll become very apparent fairly quickly anyway, providing you set up your metrics for measuring effectiveness correctly.
Management is especially hard remotely, particularly if you have people who require micromanaging in order to make progress."
You can now read the full feature
, with a full list from Simpson of nearly 20 top tips on constructing a remote-friendly infrastructure.