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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Get in the Game!

I finally finished Marc Mencher's Get in the Game! Careers in the Game Industry, mainly to get an idea of what is different between the enterprise development management I currently do, and equivalent roles in the games industry.

Mencher is over at, and has a historied career in the game development industry that makes him a good content generator for this title. And, if his recommendations are any indication, he seems like a really good guy with whom to work.

I wanted to get a broad background on the games industry, the roles, and the challenges, then do further research on more focused leadership positions (producers, senior project managers), via things like The Game Producer's Handbook (which I'm reading now).

Get in the Game! is good. It's broad in scope, well-written, and easy to work through.

It's broadness is also its limiting factor. If this were a college text, it would be a survey textbook.

But it serves its purpose well. What's different between my job outside and equivalents inside?

Not much. And that's encouraging.

Get in the Game! bridges the gaps for me a bit. While I'd say two-thirds (or more) of the book maps to non-gaming IT roles and principals (for example, the survey-light resume / interviewing / etc. sections), there is that one-third of the content that helps spell out specific game industry roles, responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities.

The book is dated (2002), so it doesn't address now-gen technology, and its appendix on game companies (publishers and developers), while a laudable effort, is woefully out of date, due to the fast-moving nature of this relatively young industry. And the link to updated content listed in the book is nonexistent.

That said, the book is a good resource, giving me a broad view of the landscape for this vertical market, and sets me up well for further research and (hopefully) interviewing.

As an aside (and this will probably irritate some video game folks), I constantly run into the bias from video game employees about how their high tech is so different from my high tech.

Now, it is different, to be sure, but it's different in target and scope and audience and impact, so it's a variation of high tech -- not an altogether new beast. And given my having one foot each in technical management and acting, I'm in unique place to appreciate the managerial, technical, and creative all at once.

This bias can be frustrating, and it can limit mutual opportunities. I can chat with someone at a company who says, "We really like you, and you have more skills than anyone we've talked to, but you don't have game industry experience."

I want to respond, "Really? Because you don't have enterprise, worldwide, multinational, multi-million dollar experience, but I'm still willing to talk to you."

That would probably end the interview prematurely.

Ah well, let's see what a little more research and ongoing, authentic relationship building can do...


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