Game Development Reference
Creative people are easily bored, moody, a bit difficult to handle. You
have to make it fun for them, care for them. Creative people only produce
really good work if you creatively challenge them. They have to like what
they're working on. They have to be damn proud of the fact that they're
a part of a particular project. That is again the task of the manager. Each
time, you have to give them creative challenges. That's difficult, but
nobody said it is easy to lead creative people.
Satisfying a creative developer does not require a money carrot. It re-
quires a delicate mix of responsibility, credit, challenge, and a belief in
the project. And, as Lasseter notes, the better people are, the harder they
are to motivate. Uninterested, mediocre developers don't feel dissatisfied
working on uninteresting tasks because disinterest is their default state.
They're like pig iron handlers; they work purely for the cash. Great design-
ers, on the other hand, live on top of an uncontrollable mental wellspring
of ideas and ambitions. They must express these impulses or they grow
unhappy. This aspect of their nature is both the source of their ability and
the reason they are “easily bored, moody, a bit difficult to handle.”
The holy grail of game development incentives is SELF-IDENTIFIED
Self-identified commitment is when the developer believes that the
work is not just something he is doing, but something he is. A designer
motivated to this level will ruminate on the project in the shower, in the
car, and while sleeping. He'll spend every spare moment pushing concepts
around in his mind, looking for opportunities and solutions. He'll do it so
much that people around him will get annoyed at his absentmindedness.
He will scribble down notes on cocktail napkins at random times or take
to carrying a notebook. He will seek out research that helps solve the prob-
lem, come into work at random times, or get up in the middle of the night
to jot down an idea that came to him in a dream. The work is no longer just
a job. It is his pride and purpose.
Self-identified commitment is a force of nature. It's how upstart teams
beat giant corporations, and how the Wright brothers out-innovated the
rich Samuel Langley. Most organizations never see it because they stran-
gle it in the crib with money carrots or Dilbertesque work environments.
Nurture it, and it can make magic.
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