Generally my take is you have to really care about the field you focus your life on or you just won’t be the best at it. There is a difference between being good at your job and really loving it to where everything you do is a pursuit of putting out perfection. ~J.A. Laraque
Do you have to be a gamer to be in the industry?
When it comes to jobs people often put them in two categories. One is the job to pay bills and one is the career that you really work towards and care about. Obviously for just a job you can learn what is needed to do well and even excel at it, but for your career do you really have to be “all in” to do it well. More specifically, do you have to be a gamer to work in the gaming industry? Well John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment says, yes, you do.
“In my opinion, people that don’t play games have no business in this business. It should be the gamers-only club, I think. I can’t stand people that don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to playing these things,” Smedley said in a recent interview.
The responses to that comment have been mixed. Some believe he is right on saying that many of the rehashed and awful games that have come out recently are the result of suits in management positions and not real gamers and people who know the community and the culture. Others had a different view saying that one can be good at their job without taking it home and with responsibilities like family, school and bills one does not always have time to be totally engulfed in their work.
Generally my take is you have to really care about the field you focus your life on or you just won’t be the best at it. There is a difference between being good at your job and really loving it to where everything you do is a pursuit of putting out perfection. I also believe it depends on the job and the community you are creating a product for. It is one thing to work in plastics and not live it 24/7, but in some industries like politics, cars and games, if you only focus on it from 9 to 5 and then walk away there will be something missing.
When I started working at Alienware there was a proud culture of gamers there. I was even asked what games I played in the interview. Now while every position within a company, even a gaming related one, does not need a gamer manning the helm it did create a company culture that really felt like we were creating the best computers for the love of video games. With that said sometimes, and for certain things, you might need an outside view. Perhaps when going into a new market or expanding overseas you might need someone with those specific skills more than a gaming background. However, I believe you still need those gamers right there to make sure the heart of your company stays intact.
Also, the wife and kids excuse is just that. There is a difference between ignoring your responsibilities and giving up everything you used to love because you started a family. Perhaps you do not play games for every waking moment when you are not at work, but it does not mean you do not have time to put in to keep fresh. Sometimes there comes a point where you might have to step aside because of your responsibilities. If you cannot put in the time there will be those that can so you can focus on what you want to, but the point is you made that change.
When it comes to games most of us understand that it can become a part of our lives in one way or another. Many gamers do struggle with dividing life with gaming, but for people in the industry it may be even more important to listen to those of us for who gaming is a major focus. Too many suits see games like fast food and just feed us the same old crap and sadly most of us eat it up. There may be great new games out there, but they do not want to take the chance on something new. This is where we as gamers have the responsibility to let people in the game industry know what we want. Only then will things change and you don’t have to be a gamer to listen to the concerns of one, but it definitely helps.
So what is your take, do you need to be an active gamer to work in the gaming industry?