4 reasons web designers should be playing more video games
Lesson 1: We’re all on the same side (well, except for those other guys)When someone hires you to design a website, or when you get together to make one with other people for non-client work, you’re forming a team. In client work, that team must include the client. [pullquote]we all have a common goal: to kill the other team[/pullquote] In the heat of a verbal argument over the best way to do things, it can be easy to forget that. This is especially true if the person you’re arguing with is demonstrably ignorant of the mechanics of the game, or the principles/process of good design. It’s easy to see them as an obstacle to progress. They are not the obstacle. Their ignorance, fear, or whatever emotion is holding up communication, that is the obstacle. In a game, it’s good to remind ourselves, and each other, that we all have a common goal: to kill the other team. In your work, you may have to remind a worried client that you want their website to succeed as much as they do. You’re invested in this. Neither of you is the enemy.
Lesson 2: Newbs are to be loved; n00bs are to be squelchedSome people are not kind to new players (“newbs”). This is self-defeating, because if you drive people away from the game you love, that game loses business. All new players must be treated with love, care, and respect. They’re spending time and possibly money on this game that you love; and that’s something we can all get behind. “N00bs” are those players who absolutely refuse to learn, despite sometimes having played for years. They don’t take any advice, won’t stop giving bad advice, and sometimes engage in disruptive and jerk-ish behavior. There is often nothing that can be done for these people. In our work, it’s easy to forget that not everyone’s taken a computer science course in school. Some people only learn enough about their own computer to check their e-mail, and that’s it. Others might have experience with touch devices or game consoles only. Patience isn’t just a virtue in these situations. It’s essential. Some people, however, just can’t be helped, whether they be your client or team-mate. You need to get away from these n00bs before you start to mistrust everyone. Seriously. If you’re not careful, you’ll get burned, and it can be next to impossible for others to earn your trust in the future. Should that happen, you’ll find yourself working alone more often than not. Working alone is great, but not always and forever.
Lesson 3: People remember how you made them feelWhen I see a familiar name in my team or questing party, one of two things will happen:
- I will be happy because I remember liking them.
- I will be unhappy, because I remember vague unpleasant feelings.
Lesson 4: Be clear, be specificWhen playing a fast-paced game, a lot of communicating has to be done on the fly. Sometimes this happens via voice chat, where you have your words and tone, but no facial expressions, to convey meaning. Sometimes you are limited to text. Until you’ve played (or worked) with someone long enough, and you’ve both adopted the use of the same slang or shorthand, you have to make the extra effort to be perfectly clear. There’s no shortcut. There’s no easy way to do this. It’s all trial and error. Each player, client, or team member is different. Their lives have been different. Their skills are different. Sometimes, common English words will come with a different meaning or connotation to them. You cannot assume that what worked with one individual will necessarily work with the next.
ConclusionPlay games and meet people. There’s more to learn than what I’ve covered here, and you’ll have to learn a lot of it for yourself. But the key take-home is that being part of a successful team is about practicing and honing the skills that make you an effective collaborator. So go kill something, and don’t forget to eat and sleep! Featured image, Homefront - UK Multiplayer Event image via THQ Insider
Ezequiel Bruni is a web/UX designer, blogger, and aspiring photographer living in Mexico. When he’s not up to his finely-chiselled ears in wire-frames and front-end code, or ranting about the same, he indulges in beer, pizza, fantasy novels, and stand-up comedy.