With great power comes great responsibility. We have a lot of problems in the gaming industry. Some of them can be attributed to poor project management, to biased hiring practices and more in that vein.
What it all boils down to, though, is leadership. Some leads, producers, directors and company leaders I’ve come into contact with have been hands down terrible. The common denominator has been that they’re in it for their own ambitions, their own power, and they’ve misunderstood or forgotten the Spider-man quote. They’ve outsourced the responsibility to the people without power and taken the power for themselves.
We often talk about how we as developers sometimes have to take a game in a direction we don’t think is right, that we have to do what leadership says, that learning to work on games we don’t like is part of being professional, which is all true. But then we stop at that. Suck it up. Grin and bear it. We forget the other side of the coin.
For us to be able to do our job, leadership needs to do their job. Lead.
You have a responsibility to us devs as well. You provide direction. In exchange for the power you get, you also have the responsibility to lead, and to do it well.
If you put a bad direction in the hands of the developers, always shifting, unclear, fuzzy, micro manage-y, delayed or vague – if that is the case and what you get in the end is bad – it’s on you. If you – against odds – get something good out of bad leadership, that’s not your efforts. It’s the efforts of the team, doing the best they can with a bad leadership.
My point is that this is often forgotten in the world of game dev. We worry about how we as game devs can fulfil vague goals and meet harsh deadlines without reflecting on that we can only do so much to offset bad leadership.
I think we’ve seen enough stories on Kotaku, IGN, Bloomberg and Polygon to conclude that we do have an issue in the industry. Toxicity, bad direction, passing blame, they all start at leadership.
Because of that, I implore you, if you are a leader in the games industry, remember that your team is not the only one with a responsibility. You have a responsibility as well.
With great power…