Game Philosophy: Working in a Team

“Gee, Brain, whaddya wanna do today?”
“The same thing we always do, Pinky… write a new…”


Today’s topic:
Working in a Team

Now this may be horrifying for some people to hear, but I’ll just be direct so the shock can die down as you read this post.

*clears throat*

When making a game… you have to SOCIALIZE!


I know, right? The horror!

Of course, it IS possible to work on a game on your own, you just have to either have the patience of a saint or the obsession of a perfectionist crazy person.

Yeah, that’s the kind of people I hang around with, god I need more friends…

But yeah, working alone on a video game is a whole other topic, so for now we’ll just focus on working in a team.

The thing with working in a team is that there is no such thing as THE correct way to work together, it’s different for everyone and (considering how teams by nature are filled with different people) can even vary per project.

Not only that, but most of the time there WILL be people who’ll be incompatible with each other. It’s inevitable, because to make a game you kinda need people with opposing viewpoints.

A designer is all about setting up rules, they come up with ideas, but they have to think of their target audience as well as whether everything fits together correctly. They’re creative and are probably the most social of them all due to being present at game testing and all that.

An artist, by comparison, is all about taking the rules and doing creative stuff with them. The designer said there’s a door in the room? The artist would like to experiment with 20 types of doors, everything as long as it isn’t just another standard door. They WANT to inspire some sort of emotion into whatever they make, or at least make people think about what they created.

“But why does it have to be 3?” “Because of Rule #2! Read the rules, dammit!”
You're right, it's not a pipe... it's a PICTURE of a pipe! Oh, I am so artsy!
You’re right, it’s NOT a pipe… it’s a PICTURE of a pipe! Oh, I am so artsy!

Lastly, a programmer is all about logic. They don’t want to get emotional, they just want to get things done. You want a gun to fire a specific way? Well, to do that the translational kinetic energy would have to be half of the weight of the projectile times it’s velocity, etc. etc. etc. They don’t think in psychology or emotions. They think in calculations and codes.

Yes, that’s all you are to them, a bunch of codes. Green codes specifically, for some reason.

Of course, these are all VERY generalized personalities to the roles those people have, but the point is; differences in philosophies will be inevitable.

Naturally with those three types of people talking over each other, it may be difficult to get a unified opinion on what to create.

This is why it’s important to have a Director, someone who can create order out of the chaos that is this team.

As I have once mentioned before, being a Director can be a thankless job, because barely anyone says anything about the good you’ve done, but you would NEVER live down anything bad you’ve done (or at least, bad in their opinion).

This is why I think it’s actually important to socialize with the people you work with, if they’re not gonna acknowledge the good you’ve done as a Director, at least let them acknowledge what a cool person you are.

Of course, should they be jackasses to you in return, you could always just answer with this:

Now, I’ll let you figure out yourself on where to find nunchucks to make that comeback in the first place (though, I’m sure the chicken suit won’t be that much of a problem), but what I’m trying to say is that there will always be SOME people out there who aren’t interested in getting to know you.

And that’s okay, different strokes for different folks. If they prefer to work 40 hours a week on auto-pilot rather than actively breaking it up every now and then with small-talk about what they want to do this weekend, that’s fine.

But doing so WILL mean they miss out on some opportunities, both for the team and for themselves.

If you don’t open up to your team members, that means they will never truly understand you, which means they’ll have a harder time getting your ideas.

People sometimes forget the importance of referencing other creative works to make your point clearer. It’s like they’re afraid to admit their idea came from something other than themselves.


By referencing stuff you BOTH know, you immediately share a common knowledge, which can immediately benefit your point.

If you and a team member are fans of Ninja Gaiden, but the others aren’t, you’d still at least have two different points of views that can describe it to the others. And in return the others gain some knowledge on Ninja Gaiden and next time they’ll be able to reference it to make their own points, a point that YOU would be more sympathetic to than if it were a dry explanation of how a computer decides whether a cut counts as a hit or not.

If you said “hey, let’s make a game where you’re a ninja and you attack enemies with a quick attack and a strong attack, but the strong attack can be charged to become an ultimate attack…” you would have lost them the moment you explained the thing about the strong attack.

But instead just say “Let’s take the combat system of Ninja Gaiden… but we’ll add/redo this… etc.” and they’ll immediately get what you said.

Of course it also helps the team if people would just let go of their pride every once in a while and actually make compromises, sacrifice their ideas for the sake of the objectively better ideas of others.

See, the problem with working alone is that the only opinion around is your own. All your biases and personality flaws are idealized in your ideas. Having other people around to take you down a couple notches is needed to make sure the game doesn’t end up becoming one huge author tract.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that there’s a lot of benefits to getting to know the people you’re working with. You may think they’re just there to do their jobs and be done with it, but that’s entirely up to you.

Ask questions, tell them what you’re interested in and compare yourself to them. Are there only differences, or is there one big thing you have in common? Can you work that into your project somehow?

Having opposite personalities can get you a rough start, but seriously, once two opposites find common ground, the result can end up becoming a LOT more interesting than what either of them would have made individually.

"I want to go home..." "Don't let him confuse you..."
“I want a solo story…”
“Don’t be silly…”

Published by Huy Minh Le

Huy Minh Le is a Video Game Enthusiast, Movie Lover, Writer, Content Marketeer and regular TvTropes reader! His studies in Game Design, Art, and Writing has led to a very creative, yet analytical mind.

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