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[Column] General: Gamers in the Game Industry

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,619MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

It may come as a shock to some that there are actually people out there making games who don't actually *gasps* play them. In this week's Pokket Says, she takes a look at that notion with quite a bit to say. See what you think and then leave your thoughts in the comments.

So this week I want to talk about gamers in the game industry. Now it is without a doubt that there are quite a few avid gamers that work in the game industry, but there are also quite a few people who, well, aren't gamers at all. Before we can talk about gamers working in the industry, we must first pinpoint what we consider to be a gamer, and what qualifications these people should meet.

Read more of Hillary Nicole's Pokket Says: Gamers in the Game Industry.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • RocknissRockniss Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,034Member
    It may be a dream to work in the gaming industry, but the grass isn't always greener, and while I agree you should have a grasp of the games, be prepared to look at them in a new light and be prepared not to care much about playing them once they become your bread and butter rather then your favorite past time. Just because you like playing them doesn't mean you would like to make them and vice versus just because you can make them doesn't mean you like to play them. Once you understand how to make them, it pretty much ruins the experience of playing. Stick to flipping burgers and gaming will always be a welcome fascination to your minds.
  • NetSageNetSage Lake Geneva, WIPosts: 1,040Member Uncommon
    OMG YES!  This is probably partially why Blizzard continues to dominate the PC market (even though D3 isn't considered their best work).  And, while I doubt all their staff are gamers I have a feeling those who have a key role are and so are their support (have you ever used them?  It's awesome and fun).
  • JonokuJonoku Cool, PAPosts: 645Member
    True^^^^ gotta be at least a gamer to get in a gaming industry.

    Looking at: The Repopulation
    Preordering: None
    Playing: Random Games

  • FreezzoFreezzo EnschedePosts: 235Member
    I totally agree. I returned to RIFT because Trion is just an awesome company understanding what gamers want (at least, I can identify with it). Also I keep playing and supporting GW2, which has the same company feel (and fun gameplay and all that)

    "We need men who can dream of things that never were." - John F. Kennedy
    And for MMORPGs ever so true...

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,668Member Uncommon

    Being an avid gamer is a big part of the industry's culture, so it would probably be hard for a non-gamer to fit in. Gaming is a passion that seems rather universal, and you'd probably be hard pressed to find devs on a break that weren't playing games or talking together about the latest games they played and the latest features/gameplay they've found interesting or engaging.

    It's awesome to see how a dev lights up when talking about their favorite games, too. You can easily tell how big a part of their life gaming is.

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    It depends some on the exact job description.  Anyone with any say in design decisions for the game surely needs to know the game industry.  But a janitor doesn't.
  • gravesworngravesworn charleston, WVPosts: 324Member
    I have been openly critical of Pokket, but this is one of her better articles. I look forward to her expanding in future articles. I always wonder when I play a game whether or not the people who made said game actualy played the game while developing it. I firmly believe following a business model of development isnt always the best model of development. Good job Pokket.
  • black_isleblack_isle IstanbulPosts: 239Member Uncommon
    lol "piano songs" LOL.  LOLOLOLOLOLOL.
  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,460Member Uncommon

    I'll offer a differing opinion.

    I would say that people who don't play games should not be in the position to design games. I would say that people who don't play game could be in positions where being a gamer might not be needed.

    Look at Curt Schilling. he was clearly a gamer. But not much of a businessman. Does it matter if you are a gamer if you can't keep the budget on track or bring in new investment?

    If I find an amazing artist then it might not be important that they play games but that they are an amazing artist who can bring concepts to life?

    What about someone who is an amazing animator? Maybe for movies. But they dont' play games? I think I'd rather take someone who wasn't a gamer but knew their craft well and could be utilized by those who are designing the game.

    One of the things I've noted from my limited experiene at game conventions is that there are a lot of people working at game companies who are very unprofessional. I sometimes wonder if some of the issues that seem to plague game companies are that they are run/staffed by gamers and not professionals.

    Of course, if you are designing a game then being a gamer and one that understands the game/demographic you are working for would be incredibly important.

  • FelixMajorFelixMajor London, ONPosts: 576Member

    I agree that to be a developer you don't have to be a 'gamer'.  Now what I consider a gamer is someone who since they were young has been glued to some type of screen for hours a day obsessed with one or many games.  What I don't consider a gamer is someone who sits down and pwns noobs in Nazi zombies, or someone who says "Yeh I play ps3 and a little xbox". No...a gamer is someone, like the majority of us here, who checks mmorpg daily, watches videos trailers daily, spends stupid amount of time being part of a gaming community not just in a game, but online websites and or in real life.

     

    Playing games is seriously only half of being a 'gamer' in the real sense. 

     

    However, to be a dev, I don't think you need to be a gamer.  What you need is, skills to apply to your task in development., an understanding of what the game will accoplish, what the fans want vs. what other games offer.  I think you need a passion for creating art, as developing a game is very much an art.  You also need a deep understanding of gaming history, what made certain games fail and succeed.

     

    Firstly though, a developer should be viewed as a professional artist in my eyes.

     

    Originally posted by Arskaaa
    "when players learned tacticks in dungeon/raids, its bread".

  • MumboJumboMumboJumbo LondonPosts: 3,221Member
    I like to hear this sort of thing from someone who is genuinely energised by good games and well designed games & talking about such: Why we love it: Tokyo Jungle
  • DrigusDrigus Syracuse, NYPosts: 50Member
    She uses so many commas...
  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    Meh

    Would you trust a mechanic that doesn't like cars?
    A novelist that doesn't read?
    A musician that doesn't listen to music?
  • BraavosiBraavosi ofheroes, NEPosts: 149Member

    The key is to be a gamer and a professional at your job. I agree with felix that a developer should be viewed as a professional artist. If you went to school (a university) to create games, you probably are a trained artist in many mediums. 

    The problem I'm facing as a newly grad looking to get into the industry is the lack of low level positions available. Nine times out of ten companies are looking for someone with many years of experience and shipped titles. This is getting off topic, so I'll just say that I agree developers need to have experience and understand gaming. I really don't see how you could do a job in any field without actively participating. 

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,460Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by ShakyMo
    Meh

    Would you trust a mechanic that doesn't like cars?
    A novelist that doesn't read?
    A musician that doesn't listen to music?

    Well, I think it goes one step further.

    All of your points I agree wtih but I would say that since games are made up of many different components, it might not really be a factor if your network expert liked games or not or if your head artist was brilliant but he didn't play games.

    From what I know of composers (of which I am one) most of the composers I've met don't play games. Of course there are composers who do but most of the composers I know are either interested in concert music (for some reason - not a lot of money in that) or a smaller group who are open to movie scores. So a game composer might not really be a gamer but they might be a very good composer for games.

    The machinist who creates parts for cars doesn't need to lovec them. The head of advertising for a publisher might not be much of a reader but might really know how to hook people on a product.

     

     

     

     

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,668Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Sovrath
    Originally posted by ShakyMo
    Meh

    Would you trust a mechanic that doesn't like cars?
    A novelist that doesn't read?
    A musician that doesn't listen to music?

    Well, I think it goes one step further.

    All of your points I agree wtih but I would say that since games are made up of many different components, it might not really be a factor if your network expert liked games or not or if your head artist was brilliant but he didn't play games.

    From what I know of composers (of which I am one) most of the composers I've met don't play games. Of course there are composers who do but most of the composers I know are either interested in concert music (for some reason - not a lot of money in that) or a smaller group who are open to movie scores. So a game composer might not really be a gamer but they might be a very good composer for games.

    The machinist who creates parts for cars doesn't need to lovec them. The head of advertising for a publisher might not be much of a reader but might really know how to hook people on a product.

    For the art fields you present, I agree, that they don't necessarily have to know gaming to do their job well. One doesn't need to be a gamer to create the assets they are told to create. However, the art and music directors should probably have a decent finger on the pulse of the gaming community, if not full-fledged gamers themselves.

    Beyond that, though, it seems odd to work in a creative environment where you don't fit with the culture. Imagine working at ESPN and not being interested in sports or working in a music store selling instruments and you have no interest in playing them?  There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but the passion isn't there, the involvement isn't there, and it will reflect in one's work and, to a certain degree, one's relationship with their co-workers.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • OzivoisOzivois Phoenix, AZPosts: 598Member

    Certain types of personalities tend to be gamers and if a company fails to be diverse in its hiring practices than they are effectively limiting the company's potential to be innovative.

    Also, the non-gamers might have a better idea on how their product can appeal to other non-gamers, thus increasing their potential customer base.

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,189Member Uncommon

    Your column was great until you quoted Smedley since he is without doubt one of the most clueless execs in the business, Why he is still in charge at SOE, is still a great mystery to most of us.

    I do agree you must be a gamer to write games, otherwise you do dumb things like Mythic did to DAoC with the Age of Atlantis expansion, EA did with SWTOR, SOE did with SWG, EA again with Ultima Online on the Age of Shadows expansion, Turbine with AC2, etc.  The list can go on and on.  

    Then you have execs in the business like  John Riccitiello, Bobby Kotick, etc that run some of the major studios who would not know a good game if someone plastered their office with it.

    The industry is full of people who do not have a clue how to make a good game and unfortunately many of them are in positions of authority.  

    Despite all this, we still get a good game occasionally.  The unfortunate problem with MMO's is they take a lot of money to produce hence you always have to get the money boys involved and it usually goes downhill from there.

     

  • evolver1972evolver1972 Port Orchard, WAPosts: 1,118Member
    I agree for the most part.  I would only add that while I think all the developers of a game (that is, the people actively involved in the creation of the game) should be gamers, I don't think it's necessary for all the execs of a company to be gamers.  I do think a majority of the execs should be, though, and those people would be the ones that teach the others the ins and outs of gaming.  So, while a CEO doesn't necessarily need to be a gamer, he or she should surround themselves with gamers and actively pursue knowledge of the gaming industry.  IMO that would just make him/her a more effective CEO.  This would apply to pretty much all execs.

    image

    You want me to pay to play a game I already paid for???

    Be afraid.....The dragons are HERE!

  • risenbonesrisenbones Galesburg, ILPosts: 194Member
    I would say a mix of gamers and non gamers would be desirable at the higher executive positions of a game producing company.  Yes you need people there who know about games and what sort of things gamers are looking for but you also need people there who while they may not know what gamers want know enough about what can realiaticly be achieved with what money.  Studio 38 is a great example on how letting gamers be in charge of a project isn't neccarily a good thing.  A bunch of good ideas that just weren't really that feasable with the money and skills the people actually had on top of that it would appear they didn't have so much as an accountant on hand that could of told them the Rhode Island deal was more than just a little shakey in a few key points that accountant would not have to of been a gamer he would just have to know about basic accountancy and maybe a bit of contract law knowledge might have helped so they could see where money flow problems could arise.  I say this because the game they made seemed pretty good and quite a few of the people who played it liked it however the way EA was going to pay the studio (contractual thing) didn't line up with how bills were going to get paid (accounting thing) thus the studio collapsed despite producing a pretty good game.

    The lesser of two evils is still evil.

    There is nothing more dangerous than a true believer.

  • GandolfiGandolfi CanterburyPosts: 43Member

    Firstly, Pokket has actually used the right amount of commas. It's nice to see good grammar and properly structured sentences online these days.

    Overall I agree with the sentiment of the article - and in particular I think it is important that gamers are well represented in senior management positions as well as in the design team. The guy in charge of the project should be a gamer. However, you do need a range of personality types and skill-sets on any project. Very often, creative types need to be backed up by completer-finishers to get the details right. Many technical roles in MMO production need to be filled by highly skilled people whether or not they are gamers - certain areas of coding, network and data management spring to mind. In addition, there is a need for some sound business acumen and financial and legal expertise at senior levels.

    In summary, I agree an MMO project should be led by gamers so that priorities are set appropriately i.e. don't sacrifice quality in the name of a quick profit. However, the right mix of skills on the team is vital in order to make sure things happen and the business is viable.

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  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,668Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by evolver1972
    I agree for the most part.  I would only add that while I think all the developers of a game (that is, the people actively involved in the creation of the game) should be gamers, I don't think it's necessary for all the execs of a company to be gamers.  I do think a majority of the execs should be, though, and those people would be the ones that teach the others the ins and outs of gaming.  So, while a CEO doesn't necessarily need to be a gamer, he or she should surround themselves with gamers and actively pursue knowledge of the gaming industry.  IMO that would just make him/her a more effective CEO.  This would apply to pretty much all execs.


    image

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • PokketPokket Candy Mountain, TXPosts: 80Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    It depends some on the exact job description.  Anyone with any say in design decisions for the game surely needs to know the game industry.  But a janitor doesn't.

    But that's just common sense imo. Also, for most facilities, they usually hire a company that handles cleaning to take care of cleaning up. They typically don't hire janitors directly like a high school would.

    Youtube: PokketProductions | Twitter: @Pokketsays | Facebook: Pokketsays
  • PokketPokket Candy Mountain, TXPosts: 80Member
    Originally posted by Sovrath

    I'll offer a differing opinion.

    I would say that people who don't play games should not be in the position to design games. I would say that people who don't play game could be in positions where being a gamer might not be needed.

    Look at Curt Schilling. he was clearly a gamer. But not much of a businessman. Does it matter if you are a gamer if you can't keep the budget on track or bring in new investment?

    If I find an amazing artist then it might not be important that they play games but that they are an amazing artist who can bring concepts to life?

    What about someone who is an amazing animator? Maybe for movies. But they dont' play games? I think I'd rather take someone who wasn't a gamer but knew their craft well and could be utilized by those who are designing the game.

    One of the things I've noted from my limited experiene at game conventions is that there are a lot of people working at game companies who are very unprofessional. I sometimes wonder if some of the issues that seem to plague game companies are that they are run/staffed by gamers and not professionals.

    Of course, if you are designing a game then being a gamer and one that understands the game/demographic you are working for would be incredibly important.

     

    The problem with, let's say the artist, is that you end up with things like "space pope" in SWTOR. An outfit that looks hilarious (and kind of bad) on male characters, and even silly for female characters (who it seemed designed for because all healers are female, right? *rolls eyes). There were some cool outfits, I'll admit, but most of the artists seemed like they didn't have a firm grasp of what something (like a healing sage) would want to look like. Anyone familiar with the MMO market KNOWS that people want to look bada$$... even if they are HEALING. They don't want to look like they are in a white ball gown, going into a raid with others, to serve tea and crumpets to those on the battlefield.

     

    Perhaps a little research would reveal  that people want to look and feel good about their characters, or perhaps just knowing MMOs would have sufficed and saved the trouble. I know a lot of talented artists that play games. Not avidly, but enough to understand. End of story.

     

    I can agree that not all execs need to be gamers, unless they are the execs that are, ultimately, calling the shots. Either they need to surround themselves with advisors that know and REALLY understand the game industry (and don't just read charts from gaming trends that are 2 years old), or they need to take the time to understand it themselves.

     

    On that note, I thought of my new topic. Thanks!

    Youtube: PokketProductions | Twitter: @Pokketsays | Facebook: Pokketsays
  • HighMarshalHighMarshal Huntsville, ALPosts: 287Member Uncommon
    Well, she did say she agreed with him. No one has said that his own quote apllied to him or not.
     
     
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