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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Gamers in the Game Industry

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54 posts found

Novice Member

Joined: 3/08/09
Posts: 195

An opinion once stated is no longer humble.

10/08/12 3:09:06 PM#21
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.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/01/11
Posts: 43

10/08/12 3:27:05 PM#22

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.


Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 13609

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

10/08/12 3:51:56 PM#23
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.

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


Novice Member

Joined: 1/30/11
Posts: 80

Conquering tomorrow, one today at a time.

10/08/12 3:51:58 PM#24
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


Novice Member

Joined: 1/30/11
Posts: 80

Conquering tomorrow, one today at a time.

10/08/12 4:03:55 PM#25
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


Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/24/03
Posts: 287

10/08/12 4:25:27 PM#26
Well, she did say she agreed with him. No one has said that his own quote apllied to him or not.

Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 18485

10/08/12 4:43:59 PM#27
Originally posted by Pokket


The problem with, let's say the artist, is that you end up with things like "space pope" in SWTOR.


A friend of mine, a decent composer but actually known in sound recording circles, was asked by a dance troupe to compose music for a modern dance piece.

He did and the people at the dance company didn't like what he did. They thought it too complex. No problem he said and he changed it.

Back and forth they went, he was constantly sending them new material but it wasn't what they were looking for.

Finally, out of ideas, and in a crunch time between school, his business and trying to get the music out, he quickly sent them a very simple, very new age type of piece.

Somethnig that he quickly dashed off and something that anyone (myself included and I'm not a pianist) with some piano ability could have improvised on the spot. A piece of fluff.

And they loved it. Perfect! Just what we were looking for.

One doesn't have to be a gamer to avoid space pope. That decision could have come from anywhere.


Novice Member

Joined: 4/28/05
Posts: 107

10/08/12 5:28:28 PM#28
Yes, yes, a 1000 times yes. Well said, Pokket.

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/08/08
Posts: 3068

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

10/08/12 5:39:25 PM#29

Too bad Smedley Is full off it.  His own game company does not even support that.  I can tell you for a fact that in EQ2, hardly none of the dev's we have working on the project actually plays the game.  We asked for years as certain subclasses were left without much being done to them.  Troubadour, Wizard, Warlock, to name a few none of those classes are played by any dev. 

So Smedley needs to step up to his statement and actually instead of listen to what I say actually do it.



Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/09/05
Posts: 288

10/08/12 9:44:41 PM#30

OK, Pokket, how about the next column being:  Gamers who think they can be in the game biz with no biz background?  The game studios are getting pwned right now by folks like EA who have biz savvy and no gaming/fan ethics, but want to be entertainment businesses.  SOE was probably the first example of this.


Business decision have to be made on the basis  But how long a perspective?  Can you make an argument that will justify your judgement to your investors?  So long as gamers think that the biz stuff -- the marketing and funding and all -- are *dirty* -- the studios are going to get pwned by the funders, the big studio/producer/distributors (and whatever you call Valve and Steam these days...?  That's a transition point, I'm not sure where they stand on the spectrum...or what category...  Do they? :) and all.


So, where does that go from here?


It's like, some games have a class or two that you need in raids -- it's not popular, and it's a pain to solo up to level cap.  But it's freaking VITAL for crowd control or healing at level cap.  These are the real business people, the Speaker-to-Animal types who can scream and leap and protect you from corporate raiders, who you can trust to be on your side, but know the exact way to deal with the baddies who do biz on the other side (the funders, the producers, the marketing/ad bits, whatever...).


And we don't have enough of those folks, because everyone wants to make games.  Well, that's part of making games too.


(Former vp/marketing & bizdev, entertainment licensing, company in Inc5000; former ceo of itty bitty indy game co, retired; 53 yo grrl gamer playing MUDs, EQ in 2000, then EQ2, Eve, Wow 3 months, EQ2 briefly, LOTRO, SWTOR mostly now, beta dilletante)


Novice Member

Joined: 3/18/11
Posts: 1126

What is "real"? How do you define "real"?

10/09/12 12:47:40 AM#31

Good article Pokket.  :)

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

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


Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/05/11
Posts: 720

"Kill me, my man kills you, that's how you lose."

10/09/12 1:10:47 AM#32
I agree with Smedley.  EQ Next!

"I see they watchin' me and takin' notes on my moves, Run up on me it's all I want I ain't got nothin' to lose."


Novice Member

Joined: 2/10/06
Posts: 1693

10/09/12 2:17:21 AM#33

I think it helps, but I also think it can be bad too.


Too many times I've seen games made based on the personal gaming desires of the team that is making them, rather than on the desires of the audience who are supposed to be buying them. When this happens you can end up with a great game, that nobody wants!


This is just as bad as the suits telling the team to make what they think is going to be profitable (WoW clone for example).


At the end of the day the most important thing is that the team understands gaming mechanics and understands the needs and desires of the audience they are trying to sell their game too.


Advanced Member

Joined: 1/31/11
Posts: 542

10/09/12 2:54:28 AM#34


Good article Pokket, and I agree. The industry definitely has an over abundance of people that want a career related to gaming, so the hiring company should be very particular about who they want and what level of experience they should have.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/21/11
Posts: 7246

10/09/12 5:07:37 AM#35
The gaming industry is going like the music industry. These big publishers are becoming increasingly irelevant with the rise of the internet and ability to self publish.

So you will see a split. You will get a few surviving big publishers churning out heavily commercial short term tat to the masses. E.g. the equivelent of xfactor / American idol. Or games terms zynga / ea / activision

You will get the rare publisher that sticks to the old ways e.g. music - virgin, games - zenimax

You will get lots of independents just self publishing on their own stuff - e.g. mojang

You will get a variety of devs putting their stuff on online distribution steam / itunes

Novice Member

Joined: 11/28/05
Posts: 20

10/09/12 6:25:23 AM#36

Welcome back Pocket, that was a much better read than the last, good to see your back in your old form.  :)


Firstly, I'd like to agree with you, for the most part.  While I am unsure by your column if indeed you were pointing a pejorative finger directly at developers employed by gaming companies, or the executives of these gaming companies(or the company in general).   Clearly from the posts above there is a lot of finger pointing at the developers themselves.  And it is with that I have an issue, and to an extent, disagree with you. (if indeed you were fingering out the developers)  


A developer, irrigardless of the project he/she is working on, has a job to do, for the most part, that job includes writing code.  It is their role to, for lack of a better explanation, convert ideas, logic, and or any form of function/method etc., into 'virtual' reality.  That is to say, they are given a set of rules, some logic for instance, and it's their job to ensure that a specific result is achieved.   When I press a left mouse button, my character interacts with what ever I am mouse'd over, or, I activate a skill.. etc....  For the likes of me, I can't see where having gaming experience can make that task any more easier, or more to the saticfaction of the gaming community as a whole.      Ok, I know that is a very litteral example and a poor one at that, however it gets my point accross.  Being a gamer has little to no baring on developers.  They have a task they are assigned and it is their role to ensure the desired results are achieved, no more, no less.


Now, if indeed you were pointing your finger towards the executive, designers, artists, world designers, quest/lore writers, customer support, team leads, community managers, and the like (the list is too long), well, then I agree whole heartedly.    It lies squarely on the plate of the creative minds, this, lack of gaming experience we talk of has the greatest impact from the 'creative' departments.   This is the area where I personally believe the problem begins, it is these groups and those like it that send their requirements to the dev teams to bring to light.  It is their expectations, design rules, good or bad, their logic that needs be coded to produce the desired results.  Keeping in mind the technology requirements, also dreamt up by the engineers who like to built lots of pretty blinking lights into the hardware (lol), a developer has a lot on his plate to contend with, lets cut them some slack.


Ok yes, I agree that EVERY employee should be questioned as you were with company 'B'.  That was AWESOME.  And yes, I agree that IF it were my company, I would indeed be looking to employ as many creative minds with some REAL WORLD GAMING EXPERIENCE.  And yes, I would indeed hire someone who is NOT a gamer if their specific skills would be considered an asset to the final product.   So, in closing, I do NOT agree that every developer needs gaming experience, their skill in developing solid, bug free code is, or would be, my first priority, but I assure you, the creative minds had better have their sh_t together or find themselves replaced, I've a budget and a timeline/deadline to meet.  Investors to please, and of course my own ass on the line.    :))


Good job Pocket, cant wait to read more.




Novice Member

Joined: 10/05/03
Posts: 6721

Gaming should be about fun, not gender equality.

10/09/12 7:16:13 AM#37
Not sure I understood the point of this article or maybe it was not all that interesting to me.

Novice Member

Joined: 3/02/07
Posts: 1432

10/09/12 8:13:36 AM#38

Notch is an excellent example of a gamer in the games industry.


I'm slightly concerned about Hilmar Peterssen - CEO of CCP (Eve Online). He was a games player once, but not any more. I agree with Pokket when she says "There are no [metaphorical] unicorns in Eve" - this is a short coming which seems more obvious to me as time goes by.


If Hilmar played Eve Online, I think the game would be further improved.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/20/03
Posts: 868

10/09/12 9:25:53 AM#39
People in certain positions within the company need to be gamers, not all of the employees.  Anyone who actively makes decisions concerning the games direction or development needs to be a gamer with a good understanding of both the game and the target audience.  The company also needs people who are experts in other fields if they are to be successful.  It's a nice ideal that everyone should know the game inside out but I would rather have people that actually know what they are doing in the job for which they are employed.

Novice Member

Joined: 1/31/11
Posts: 109

10/09/12 9:29:30 AM#40

The best gaming crew would be to have the CEO/Boss be both a gamer and a business professional, perhaps degree'd; however, if a gamer boss is not possible, the boss should be a business professional, someone who can run the business, keep people moving, meeting objectives, and getting the game out.  The Production Manager should be in a similar position and, if there were a gamer and a business professional finding this company, the business manager needs to be on top.


How much money is spent on marketing by these companies when they're getting a game out?  Almost none.  Why?  Because the people who are on top are NOT business professional's, they're simply guys with a vision, and so the budget they have is very rarely large enough to include marketing.  A marketing budget should be at the core of expenditures, and account for 30% or more of that budget, from the beginning, not as a side-effect or an in-case notion.  Blizzard spent a great deal on marketing, and they continue to advertise, and they had, at one point, more than 13 million subscriptions, and still carry more than any five games out there at this point.  Most games fail, post-development, because of a serious lack of proper marketing.  So, having a business professional, whether they are a gamer or not, is absolutely mandatory, especially if they have a gamer second who can direct the game and its people to continue moving it forward at a proper rate.


For the rest of the developers, it's handy to have as many business-minded folks as possible, though I agree that ALL of them should be gamers.  However, what type of gamers?


If you're developing a console game, you should be a console gamer.  If you're developing a PC game -and for those who don't know they are massively different- you should be a PC gamer.  If you're developing a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, you should be a pen-n-paper role-player.


Were I to hire people, I would hire people in this order: Passionate-Skilled-Degree'd, Skilled-Passionate, Skilled-Degree'd, Passionate, Skilled, and finally Degree'd.  If an individual doesn't know games, in general, and is not skilled, it doesn't matter if they have a degree or not, they're worthless to the project.  Most of the games made today are NOT made by real gamers, they're made by console and PC gamers... forgive me, a real gamer, to me, is someone who plays pen-n-paper games first, and then graphically-based amalgam's.  If they were made by real gamers, a great deal more would come from the games than "get from point a to point b", "recover 10 bear pelts and return", what we've come to classify as the various types of quests in video games, but nothing to do with real Role-Playing.


Don't tell me it's not possible to do these things... SWTOR and Oblivion were ALMOST there.


Finally, I do agree that certain other requirements, such as being a CURRENT player, and someone who does their research on the present desires of the MMO community, are important traits.  However, before someone decides to throw $50,000, up to a GOOD DEAL more than that, at an attempt to get their favorite idea into the mainstream, they need to do some research on business practices, in addition to budgeting for the market, and they need to be ready to go for the long-haul.

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