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Game Studio Management: Making It Great

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This talk describes how good studio management happens by managing information flows through the studio.

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Game Studio Management: Making It Great

  1. 1. Game Studio Management: Making it Great! Jesse Schell @jesseschell GDC 2015
  2. 2. Game Studio Management: Making it Great! Jesse Schell @jesseschell GDC 2015
  3. 3. Common Studio Problems • I don’t know how to structure management! • I don’t know how to manage this project! • Another miscommunication with a client! • We have too many meetings! • Our team has low morale! • Our game is LATE! • Our game SUCKS!
  4. 4. The formation of a higher-level unit by integrating lower-level units will succeed only if the emerging organization acquires the appropriate “technologies” for passing information among its members. –Thomas Seeley, TheWisdom of the Hive
  5. 5. The universe is made of information.
  6. 6. Space is defined by channels of energy.
  7. 7. What is essential is invisible to the eye.
  8. 8. Design your life so that you like it.
  9. 9. Opinions Facts Emotions Processes Projects People
  10. 10. Individual
  11. 11. Studio
  12. 12. Press Licensor Outsource Partner Studio Publisher Players World
  13. 13. Face to Face Skype Phone Email More Info Less Info
  14. 14. Flow Management Tool #1: Org Structure 16
  15. 15. Matrix Management: Projects, Process, and People
  16. 16. Flow Management Tool #2: Office Space
  17. 17. A little distance can be a LOT of distance
  18. 18. Flow Management Tool #3: Ritual
  19. 19. Agile Development
  20. 20. Other Rituals
  21. 21. Flow Management Tool #4: Social Factors
  22. 22. Collective Intelligence Dr. Anita Wooley Three factors 1. Social Sensitivity (the “eyes” test) 2. Conversational turn-taking 3. The number of women in the group
  23. 23. What blocks info flow? Too much trouble I didn’t know! NOISE! So many kinds of noise! 1) Noise in my head! 2) Noise in the office! a) Interruptions! b) Lying! 3) Noise from the publisher!
  24. 24. Beeman’s Meddling Matrix Success Fail Meddling No Meddling My meddling worked! Gulp! I’m useless! I should have meddled! I did all I could.
  25. 25. What blocks info flow? Too much trouble I didn’t know! NOISE! Mental ruts It’s a secret! Fear
  26. 26. So Many Kinds of Fear! •The boss will be mad! •Sue’s feelings will be hurt. •Everyone will laugh at me. •I might make a mistake. •The client will be disappointed. •I could lose the respect of the team. •Everyone will know I’m really a fraud.
  27. 27. Casciaro & Lobo’s Matrix
  28. 28. There are exactly six kinds of jerks.
  29. 29. Six Kinds of Jerks 1. The Inaccessible Jerk - I can’t get the info I need! 2. The Unreliable Jerk - I can’t trust your info! 3. The Rigid Jerk - You are ignoring important info! 4. The Disrespectful Jerk - You’ll spread bad info about me! 5. The Vague Jerk - Was that even information? 6. The Unfair Jerk - If I give you info, you’ll use it against me!
  30. 30. Opinions Facts Emotions Processes Projects People Three charts! Org Chart Project Hierarchy Affective Hubs
  31. 31. Decide what’s important and overcommunicate it.
  32. 32. Your work is… UNACCEPTABLE
  33. 33. Talk less, listen more.
  34. 34. Seek and ye shall find.
  35. 35. Studios with good information flow say… • I know how to structure management! • I know how to manage this project! • No miscommunication with clients! • We have the right meetings! • Our team has great morale! • Our game is ON TIME! • Our game ROCKS!
  36. 36. If the energy is really flowing freely, the brush paints by itself, the camera photographs, the sculpture forms, the words write, the dance dances. The creator of the art, the subject of the art, and the expression itself merge into a single process in which there is no reflection or evaluation, just the art manifesting itself.
  37. 37. Thanks! Four Tools 1. Org Structure 2. Office Space 3. Rituals 4. Social Factors Email: jesse@schellgames.com Twitter: @jesseschell Slides: jesseschell.com Book: artofgamedesign.com
  38. 38. Schell Games Principles Our mission: To make experiences we are proud of with people we like, so we can make the world a better place. 1. Amazing Teams 1. Only hire people who have the skills and passion to make the best experiences possible. 2. Only work with clients and partners who share our passion to create the best. 3. Always treat everyone with the utmost respect -- even when (especially when) you are frustrated. 4. Diversity makes us strong. 5. It’s not a decision until the team is on board. 6. If you don’t believe in your work, speak up. 2. Amazing Fun 1. We don’t make experiences to make money. We make money to make experiences. 2. Experiences should be beautiful inside and out. 3. Beauty is in the details. Give attention to every little thing. 4. Planning, organizing, and optimizing information flow are essential to quality. 5. All experiences must have all key aspects fully playable halfway through production. 6. Know, respect, and defend the guest. The experience is for them. 7. Playtest constantly. It’s the only way to know. 3. Amazing Transformation 1. Always ask: "How does our experience change the guest?“ 2. Always ask: "Is there a better way?“ 3. Dreams and plans only matter if we ship. 4. Belief can turn the impossible into reality. 5. Be brave. If you don’t, who will?
  39. 39. Research Links • Casciaro and Lobo: • http://sousalobo.com/researchfiles/casciaro_lobo_hbr_05.pdf • Denise Chen fear smell research: • http://www.livescience.com/3384-humans-respond-scent-fear.html

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