Today’s article is dedicated to my awesome teammates on Boss 101 – Joshua Allen and Manon Dreijer. Each day I’m thankful for the honor to work with them both!
Our topic… being a professional game developer.
What does being a professional game developer mean and why would you want to act like one? Better yet, how can it make you money?
You probably are going to hear this one a lot if you are making games. Heck, even if you aren’t making games. What does it take to be a pro at something? First off, being a pro is not directly tied to years on the job. You and I both know people who start on day 1 and with zero experience and bring a pro attitude to their work.
So, being a pro first and foremost is bring your best to the table. You show up every day and work at your highest level. At the end of the day you look back and say “For today, that was my best and tomorrow I’ll work to improve.” Being a professional isn’t some anointed title you get to put on a resume. It’s an attitude you bring with you. Pro’s realize most everything in life is a team effort and getting things done requires communication and cooperation. Think of a group of people rowing a boat. They go much faster and farther when every single person works in harmony.
I think you might see where this is going in terms of money. Simply put, when you and the team arrive at your goals that is when things payoff (money, satisfaction, etc.). Also, when you are working in harmony along the way the whole work experience is much better too. It’s easy to lose sight of that but it’s very important to your mental health. A friend once told me every job has a psychological payout that happens when you work. You either are satisfied and grow or you are frustrated and stagnate. Jobs you aren’t excited about and teams you aren’t getting along with will bring you down.
What can you do?
Start where you stand and identify yourself, your environment and your attitude as well as other’s attitudes. Assess your working life and ask “Am I happy about this?” “Are things going the way I want them to?” You’re the only one who can answer that. I can’t and your friends can’t so get to it! I can give you a hint, it’s not always the other party. Sometimes it’s you and you have to take action to be a more active participant in your life. Unfortunately, schools don’t teach the art of conversation and most of us are forced to learn on the job how to handle teams which frankly, sucks.
A simple trick I use is remembering each person has their own goals and agendas. The more I can help other people the more they want to help me. Simple fact and very true for everyone. When other people’s goals align with mine then all the better. Your job is to start by being the kind of person who discerns as clearly as possible about the jobs you take and why you take them. Take them because they inspire you, make you grow as a person, stretch your talents out. Avoid taking jobs solely for money – I have done so in the past and it’s a pretty miserable experience. Seek out jobs and goals you love.
Let’s talk about two professionals I know and respect a lot. Joshua Allen and Manon Dreijer. These are the two pro’s I have the privilege of working with on Boss 101. Both of them are not only fantastic people but they are helping bring you the best game possible.
When I set out to make Boss 101 I went looking for very specific people and I was fortunate to find better than I could ever hope for. Joshua came to me in response to an ad about a programming position. After a few email exchanges and a Skype call I knew he would be a fun person to work with. He had the skillage but more importantly, he was easy to speak with, made jokes and laughed. You might scoff at that last sentence but I assure you – a sense of humor goes a long way when you’re in the trenches making a game. Joshua has long since proven his programming abilities but I am continually impressed at his dedication and ability to talk and work through tough technical and design issues.
Manon answered the call for an artist on the game. After a few web games I knew Boss 101 would need some top level art help. Again, I spoke with many artists and Manon stood out as a Grade A person when it came to laying down pixel art and animation. Most importantly – she exhibited a tremendous sense of humor and fun. Like Joshua, her skills were never in question and the main thing I was looking for when we started out was the ease with which she integrated into the current art process. Since we started on the project I can’t tell you how many times she’s hit a home run on an assignment, I’ve lost count.
My point in telling you about my teammates is there were conscious choices made in selecting them. They also made a conscious choice to work with me. My goal each day of this project is to make sure they are having fun, enjoying the project and we are hitting our goals. Nothing we are doing is voodoo magic. You can all set yourself up for success as we have. The deal is you must be active. You must pursue your goals because goals are not stationary things waiting for you to grab them.
When you realize the above is true you will also know a great secret of life and understand pursuing one’s dreams and working on a true team are the most satisfying and humbling things you can ever do. Satisfaction comes from the camaraderie and teamwork towards a common goal and humbleness comes in the realization that pursuing your dreams means letting go of many preconceived notions and accepting the fact you have a lot to learn. In a nutshell – you must be a professional, act with dignity and respect towards others while pushing yourself like never before.
Like that one? You should! I wrote it for you!
You know what to do next- go LIVE YOUR DREAMS!