Game Artist: Ethics and ExpectationsAn artist starts his career from one company or the other. As he grows in hiscareer path, he coordinates and interacts with lot many people and other artists.During this stint of growing professionally everyone makes mistakes sometime.There are few set of common mistakes that everybody do that are known asprofessional snag. There are few best practices that need to be remembered. Thisarticle covers few of them.Professional FoundationMany artists get their first jobs before they have truly mastered the importantfoundations they need to know as professional artists.From that first job on, they just tread in the same spot and virtually stop growingand learning as artists aside from what they do at work. Dont be one of them.Keep on learning and strengthen your weaknesses, learn new tools, and try newmethods.Interpersonal CommunicationProfessionally, communication will be both with co-workers and the lead.With Co-workers Communicating with peers is one of the main sources of inspiration andlearning. Mostly, it seizes to happen on regular basis due to work pressure anddeadlines. Everyone has his own way of performing task and using techniques.Sharing such tips and tricks is really important among co-workers. Strong artcultures are built around this level of engagement. Managers or leads cannotcreate this environment if the artists themselves are not committed to it aswell. During profession, there is limited time for learning and sharing fromsomeone and this is really important for professional growth. This can onlyhappen with constructive feedback and interpersonal communication, reviews,and suggestions.With Managers and Leads Every organization has its own set of hierarchy and attached role andresponsibility. Interaction between lead and artist is a must for timely deliverywith utmost quality. Main issue comes when people assume that the leads/managers are perfect and right all the time. Blindly following the lead decisionwill not lead to any creative output if the artist has even a slight thought of doingthe task differently.
An artist cannot agree with all the decision a lead makes and that is perfectlyokay. Problem comes when people think that they cannot speak when they see amistake that might be due to reason like fear of dismiss or revenge.In both the cases, outcome will be same. Not speaking out at the moment mightgenerate the wrong output delivered and it adversely affects the artist’sperformance. It also fractures lead-subordinate relationship.Leads cannot always be perfect in their decision and at times they rely on theartist for supporting their decision. It is a mutual consent on the final decision.Just remember: Preventing a problem is always better for both lead and artistthan reacting to the problem later on.However, in the absence of more effective options, that problem may have tostand in the interest of meeting the goals of the project. Therefore, if youre goingto actively bring a problem to the attention of others, then you should also beready with options to discuss. How do you intend to avoid the problem? Whatare the benefits/risks of your alternative? Is it a reasonable plan?PS: Problems and mistakes are not the same as failures. Mistakes are made inmany aspects of game development; it is expected and understood as thenormal practice of learning and experimentation.However mistakes are always needs to be avoided since it carries the burden ofuntimely delivery and/or poor quality.Technology AwarenessA professional in a gaming industry need to be half technical and half artist.Even though one might be too good in one form of art or perfectionist in aparticular software, he need to constantly improvise on his skill set andupcoming technology. Artists who hold too tightly onto out-dated ways ofworking will quickly lose influence if they cant communicate on the same levelas the rest of the company.Broaden your HorizonA company will always like to have such artists who are willing to go beyondtheir specialized skills and help the company during crunch (or else) to take upvaried task. An artists approach to task diversity affects both their career growthand their artistic development.
A common mistake mostly with junior artist is that they tend to avoid such taskor perform the task half-heatedly. From an artist’s perspective it isunderstandable that they deliver low-quality work on less-desirable task.Keeping apart personal preferences, an artist must execute the provided taskwith utmost quality and commitment.Artists who are capable of tackling a wider variety of issues are understandablymore valuable to their team as those individuals can have greater impact.Projects are always hungry for people who can problem-solve in a variety ofareas.Ego ManagementThere is very thin line of difference between having professional ego andpersonal pride. Professional ego means having sense of fulfillment of his/herwork which motives a person to grow his skills and improve upon time. Ifuncontrolled, this can lead to personal pride where the artist portrays himselfabove from his peers/colleagues and view others as less valuable or talented.This hampers the working relationship between the artists and they stopconsidering constructive feedback (of other artist).In this situation, such artist rarely achieves higher creative potential and sincetheir attitude restricts them to get creative input, this limits his potential careergrowth.Avoid BraggingRealize that although you have your own artistic style and personal taste, as aproduction member, you have to work well with others and be able to followorders.If you disagree with every art direction, refuse to make changes, and march toyour own beat regardless of whats asked of you, then dont be surprised ifyoure the next person to be let go when its time for a layoff.Do not be a Production FactoryAs a creative talent, an artist is hired for his creativity, not just for his softwareskills. Dont just do what youre told and nothing more -- be creative, come upwith ideas, and suggest alternative approaches. Artists who just go through themotion with no sense of artistic pride or sense of ownership are typically calledhacks.
Apart from these issues there are few recommendations for every artist to growwithin the company. These are, by far, not really necessary for survival but forgrowth, both personally and professionally:Beyond ExpectationPerform your job better than your boss expects and makes sure your boss knowsabout it. Focus on producing results that will make both you and your lead lookgood, and develop a reputation for being a problem solver. The qualitiescompanies take into account when considering employees for promotionsinclude consistent demonstration of effort, good interpersonal skills, leadershipability, and a self-starting attitude.Personal PRPublic relations or "PR" is not just for big companies, and its not just about pressreleases and exclusive screenshots, rather, PR can be applied on an individuallevel. Sell yourself in a positive way and think of creative ways to get your-selfnoticed.Articles/NewslettersWriting articles or newsletters for gaming magazines or online websites is a goodway of getting noticed not only inside the company but outside too.Stay TunedGame companies value employees who stay current on development and trendsin the industry. Ways to keep yourself fresh and on top of industrydevelopments include attending conferences, seminars, or workshops such as theGame Developers Conference, E3, and D.I.C.E. Naturally, you should alsoregularly read publications such as Game Developer Magazine, GameDaily,Gamasutra, Develop Magazine, etc.Interpersonal SkillsIf youre weak in interpersonal skills such as communication or managementability, then train yourself by participating in relevant networking groups andseminars, even develop a language speaking ability - any specialized knowledgeyou develop will only serve to increase your value.LeadershipPeople who demonstrate leadership skills advance in their career, so practicedeveloping these skills. Volunteer to lead a project. Be the first person to learn anew technology and then teach it to your team members. It is expected that aleader makes decisions and solves problems, so learn how to problem solve. In
demonstrating your leadership skills, be sure to treat other coworkers withrespect and dont come off as swagger.Office PoliticsIts simply unavoidable, office politics exist in every company. You can get officepolitics working for you by participating in company events and buildingrelationships with people in and outside of your department. Definitely doesn’tbe a snob. Exhibiting obvious arrogance because you believe your position orskills superior to another is no way to win friends and influence people. Andkeep in mind that you are not playing office politics for any other reason thanadvancing your career. Never share information youre told in confidence anddont criticize or gossip about others. In short, when playing office politics listen,dont contribute. SHARAD MITRA Technical Art Director Exigent Game Art