Should You Focus On Improving One Skill Or Many?
Today I want to talk about something that I’m asked about a lot. We have an email list on Game Dev Underground (which if you don’t know you really should go to gdu.io and sign up for it), and every once in a while I get some sponsors and people asking about this kind of thing, so I thought I’d make a video on it. That is, the idea of specializing versus learning many different skills.
I’ve always been a jack-of-all-trades. I’ve always been the dude that will do and try a lot of different things. I would say that I’m good or average at a lot of things versus excellent at one particular thing. And I’ve seen and worked with a lot of people with specialized in skills sets. I actually wanted to be one of those people. I just wanted to be great, I wanted to excel, and I wanted to be the best at something.
However, as time went by, I found that I was just learning different things and I couldn’t stick to something long enough for me to become the master of anything. It was when I got into business that I noticed something somewhat weird happen. I started to excel in in many different areas that many people struggle with.
One of the areas in particular, was when I would go and find someone to do a job, or I would hire someone, or I take on freelancers for particular job, I realized that because I had experience doing pretty much everything in the job that I was hiring for, I was a lot more effective at finding talent. When it came to hiring, I knew what to look for. When it came to working with them, I knew what things to ask or suggest to them. I’m able to give them specifications because I know every aspect of the job we’re going to do.
With a 2D game, for example, there’s programming, art, sound, etc. and each one has many details that need to be specified such as, “What format do you want the art in? What resolution do you want for the individual sprites? Do you want them separate frames or do you want them in a sprite sheet?” Same thing with the sound, like, ‘Do you want any delay before or after? Do you want certain things to trigger right when the programming hits?” There are just so many aspects in game design and development that you have to understand in order to be able to manage the fine details.
When I ran a marketing company, there are a lot of individual things that you have to learn for each individual skill set, and I realized that I was a lot more effective at dealing with all these different types of people because I had a background in the job they need to perform. In business, being a jack-of-all-trades was a major advantage for me. The people that I would hire specialize in specific things. If, say, I need this art done, I’d hire an artist who has experience with this type of art, and so on and so forth.
For people that ask this question, there is no definitive answer. But what I would say is this: Specialization versus Jack-of-all-trades depends highly on what you’re going to do. When you have your own business, being a jack-of-all-trades has a major advantage in in so many different aspects. When you are applying for a job, it helps tremendously to be very good at one skill set. Because the more skilled you are at what you do, the more people will hire you.
So, just really think about where you want to go in the future and what you want to do with your time and formulate a plan around that. For me personally, the jack-of-all-trades thing has really helped. I have my fingers in everything known to man. And because I have such a short attention span, it helps me get through all my different projects by trying a lot of different things. I mostly talk about games and maybe some self-improvement marketing stuff here and there, but my tastes vary wildly. I mean, I have created everything from sound, to music, to making videos, to games, to artwork…I do marketing, I do business stuff, I do self-development stuff, I help people with lots of different things, and it keeps it interesting for me.
Trying different things, building all these different things, creating stuff, writing my book, keeps my mind fresh and energetic. And because of this, I’m excited to go back to doing something that I have to do because I don’t stay long enough at one particular task to get bored. In a sense, it’s a struggle to stick to a project and I’ve talked about that before in previous articles. Nevertheless, outside of this, it has been a tremendous benefit for me to have a lot of varying skill sets. It really helps me in dealing with people, in hiring for certain skill sets, as well as other aspects of my own life.
I hope this sheds some light on that subject and I hope I gave a definitive answer for you. If you have any comments, please leave them below. I love hearing from you guys. It’s always awesome to see what you have to say.