The Game Development Team: How To Be An Awesome Member

November 21, 2014

If you have recently completed the storyline or single-player campaign of a big-budget game, chances are you didn’t sit there trying to read every name that popped up. And if you tried, you’d probably end up reading several hundred names. The reality is that today most major game studios hire an incredible number of people to create games in a specific time span.

Even in the indie scene the number of people working on a project is rarely just one. Usually you have two or more people using their specific talents toward the creation of a game. Programming, art, sound and music composition, and even writing – all skills that are usually required to make a fun game that players can enjoy.

The point is, it’s very likely that as a game developer you will end up working with several other human beings. And although most people are finally shying away from the notion that all gamers are anti-social nerds, there are still plenty of aspiring developers that fail to develop traits that make them a team player while growing up.

The following is a list of excellent qualities to have that will make you more attractive during the hiring process, no matter what team-based job you apply to. More importantly, these traits will help you and your team make better games once you finally jump into game development, whether it’s at a game studio or a small indie team.

Be Cooperative And Flexible

Just like in a team-based sport such as soccer or basketball, how well a team does overall is almost always dependent on how effective each player is at cooperating with others. Someone who is cooperative has no trouble working with others and solving problems, even if there are major differences in perspectives, work styles, etc.

At the end of the day, you’re all trying to make the game as fun and successful as possible – if you can cooperate effectively, the chances of that happening are much higher than in a dysfunctional team.

Of course, cooperation becomes easier when you show yourself to be a flexible individual. If there’s one thing you can expect in game development, its that change happens constantly.

Effective team players are able to adapt no matter how the situation changes, whether it’s to the project or the team. Flexible means you don’t succumb to stress or frustration when new directions or ideas are introduced that you may not agree with.

Be A Good Listener and Communicator

One of the best qualities you can have in a team setting is the ability to both listen and speak up when necessary.

A good listener means someone that is willing to understand and consider other people’s ideas without always trying to debate. A terrible listener is the person that never hesitates to criticize ideas and then acts defensively when their own are scrutinized.

Make it a habit to listen first and thoughtfully consider your words so that dialogue remains meaningful and potential problems are solved smoothly.

At the same time, it’s also important to express your ideas clearly and directly. Some people have trouble explaining their thoughts in a non-defensive, respectful way.

If your teammates aren’t comfortable disagreeing with one of your ideas because you immediately react negatively when they do so, there’s definitely a problem.

You’ll become a constructive communicator if you can both listen respectfully and offer your ideas in a positive and confident manner.

Be A Reliable, Active Participant

There’s nothing worse than being the teammate that everyone knows not to hand an important assignment.

Instead, you should strive to follow through on tasks, be consistent, and deliver high-quality work all or most of the time. A good team player is someone who others can rely on to do their part and not force them to pick up the slack.

It also doesn’t hurt to be the kind of teammate that’s always looking to contribute or help out in any way.

Many game design studios have meetings where people of all skills join to discuss different aspects such as gameplay, story, etc. This is to promote participation and emphasize the idea that everyone is a vital part of the project.

Every team wants someone that is engaged, makes things happen, and is willing to help others– do your best to be that person.

Be Committed and Passionate

Good team players show a genuine care about both their own work and the team’s overall results. Everyone has a bad day once in a while but you should still try to be the person that motivates others by demonstrating great care and effort toward the project.

After all, you can’t expect others to consistently show commitment if you can’t do it yourself.

Just as important, is how much passion you exhibit each and every day.

If you’re still under the impression that game development is nothing but fun every time you go to work, you’re in for a big surprise. Even when things get tough and hours become long, you should be able to remind yourself and others that making games is what you’ve already dreamed of doing.

In fact, most game studios make it an effort to never hire someone that fail to present an honest passion for game development.

In Conclusion…

If you look at the curriculum of most game design degrees offered at colleges and universities, they usually require students to complete a capstone game project where they form teams and create a game.

More than just a way to show future game developers the fundamentals of game development, these requirements also give students a taste of what it’s like to work with others effectively.

If you work on developing some of the qualities mentioned in this article, you’ll probably have no problem fitting into most game studios. Perhaps you’ll even become that essential teammate who motivates everyone and is responsible for making the development process go smoother than ever.

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