How To Be A Better Teammate In Game Development
You ever wondered how to be more effective in a team? We’re going to talk about how you can how you can get other people to kind of be more effective with you, coming up.
What’s going on guys? Tim Ruswick here from Game Dev Underground. And if there is a question that I get a ton— it’s got to be one of the top five for sure— is about how to make my team more productive or how to find teammates that are productive. And I think we’re going to cover that at some point because finding the right teammates is really important.
But I think in order to do that, one of the things that we got to begin with we have to begin with is how to be a good teammate yourself right? Like if you want to find good teammates you got to be a good teammate. Because if you’re in a room full of a bunch of good teammates and you’re not you’re the one that you would kind of be asked my advice about if that makes any sense. So I would say that that there’s a lot of pieces to being a good teammate right?
Like and there are a lot of basics that I think you need to understand. I think you need to assuming that you’ve got all the basics down like you know you respond in the timely manner to emails or phone calls, you don’t disappear like I know a lot of us programmers or artists do sometimes we just like disappear for a week at a time, assuming you don’t do any crazy stuff like that, I think that there is one principle that has guided me in my in all the teams that i’ve that i’ve worked with, and this has been teams that I have hired.
So when I hire on people to work with me to build things, this has been teams that I’ve been a part of in companies, so when I get I get hired in to work with an existing team to do something whether it’s marketing or development or whatever, and it’s also been teams for like like making a game together right? Like whether it’s game jam or whatever and this principle seems to apply across the board to all these different things. And that principle I think is is a concept that really that can be boiled down into four words: be less do more.
Sounds like one of those things where Confucius say, be less do more right? Like one of those weird woo woo pieces of wisdom you might get from a fortune cookie. But in reality I want you to really think about what that means. So a lot of problems with teams they stem from two primary symptoms. And the symptoms are people aren’t listening, like they don’t they don’t communicate properly, they don’t listen, they don’t they aren’t willing to make changes, they aren’t willing to compromise.
And the second one is that just shit doesn’t get done. Nobody knows what they’re doing, or they don’t know how to move forward, or they don’t know what to do, or whatever. It is so it has to do with I think ego and productivity. And that’s what this concept really kind of covers. So a quick story: for a long time I was working on I was like a startup team for hire right? There was a point where I had built a marketing company it was it kind of turned into a marketing slash development company and kind of like a everything you need for a business digitally all in one house.
And we were working for a client that we had done some marketing for but we had never done development for. And this client didn’t have any idea what she was asking. She wanted us to build a certain thing but she didn’t she didn’t understand any of the specifics on how it’ll work. She just had this idea and she had a budget in mind. And at that point I had a pretty big ego right? Like my self-identity was this super successful business owner, drove a fancy car that you know was a cool dude, and the fact that someone would want me to do this big massive project for this little amount of money insulted me.
Well and you know I I wasn’t I wasn’t mean, but I wasn’t the nicest person about it, because it was something that I made clear that like, yo this this is not going to work like this doesn’t work out. And we ended up losing that client that client ended up doing multi million dollars of sales with their product that we would have we would have had the contract for. And so how does this relate something like game development or or teams and all that well, I realized the same behavior was happening with a teammate of mine to be honest.
There was a guy that I used to make games with a lot, well we would work on games I said make games but really we would just kind of work on games and never finished. But we were we were BFFs, we were good friends for a long time. And we actually had a falling-out because we we were working on this game and we disagreed and and on how things should go and he was really adamant about his side and I was really I don’t know about my side and we ended up not talking for years honestly after after that.
And I realized that these kind of things were related right? Like my I didn’t play well with other people at that point. And I feel like a lot of us that have these specialty skills we get a little bit of ego right? And in in team team environments one of the things I notice is like, especially if we feel very strongly, or emotionally charged about an idea or a concept or you know, this is like the thing that we’ve always wanted to create and we’re creating it and we share with other people and they don’t have the same passion for it, we can get defensive right?
So I think the first part of the principle be less has to do with ego. Be less. Don’t think of yourself as this amazing epic person that’s always right and that everyone should listen to and and you should dominate your your thought process on everyone else, and you should be the one that dictates how things work. Just be less right? Give them the benefit of the doubt, listen to them when they when they talk when they have ideas, be open to changing things even if you don’t think they’re right right?
Be open to trying them see how it works out listen you know like, don’t listen don’t like hear them but really listen to them so don’t just sit there and like let them talk at you really like stay quiet come listen to what the teammates have to say, and even if you think oh well this person is a program so they don’t know what they’re talking about or this person has no concept of what they’re trying to do like don’t just dismiss them right listen to them. Be less. Don’t think that you’re above them and that you can dictate what to do and what’s best and all that like just be less.
And then the second part is is the do more right? And a lot of teams especially ineffective teams are comprised they’re they’re not really teams they’re committees you know? They’re a bunch of people voting like, well I don’t think we should do this because I want to make this kind of game. I’ve seen a lot of teams that call themselves teams and they’re not real teams.
Teams are entities that win and lose as a unit right? If a single person in the team can win while the rest of the teammates lose that’s not really a team, it’s a committee. And a lot of— I see this especially in bigger organizations like companies and stuff if they’re working on teams a lot of the teams tend to all have their own best interests in mind and so they only do the allotted amount of work that they have to do or whatever.
Game developers a little more passionate right like we like to collaborate and then and make things. But you’d be surprised on what just doing more for the team like that talking more doing more will do to your productivity what it will do to obviously increase your productivity but like do what doing more will will do to the perception you have in the group, to how people receive your ideas to how people interact with you, how people listen to you.
And I think not only is be less do more a good principle for working with people in teams but it’s also a good principle for leadership and leading a team. Like I said I used to think that being a leader meant that I dictated my vision on everybody else and I made them do what I wanted to do, and I would just delegate all the work out right? Like we all know somebody like that and those are noise shit and I can’t believe I used to be that person, but I did.
And this kind of concept of be less do more really resonated with me because it’s helped me be a more effective communicator, it’s helped me be a better educator, you know as I share my stuff with youtube and the world, and I think it’s helped me be a better teammate, because it’s helped me interact with people in a different way, it’s helped me give them my thoughts without being overly you know pushy, and it’s helped other teammates want to work with me because I’m so collaborative because I’m so open because I do a lot of work but I don’t force a lot of opinions.
And I’m not saying it’s bad to have opinions right like, sometimes you are right. Sometimes the idea that you want is the better idea. Well you got to be open to trying different ideas you got to be open to compromises, to be open to the sort of thing .so be less do more I think it’s a really good principle to keep in mind when you’re working at a team. I think should try out next game jam next team up whenever you do, try it out. If you have any suggestions for working with teammates please leave them below I’d love to read through them.
I’m going to be doing a video on how to find good teammates and I would love to hear what some of the qualities are for good teammates and and some of the things that you’ve seen work really well in in a team setting so post those below but once again I’m Tim Ruswick and I will see guys next time.