If you want to work in game development, there is one crucial skill that most of the successful studios in South Africa say you need – communication.
Outside of the technical and creative skills needed to actually build a game, communication is the one skill that was mentioned by nearly all the big local studios MyGaming recently interviewed.
QCF Design co-founder Danny Day, RetroEpic’s brand manager Megan Hughes, Rogue Moon Studios founder Gareth Fouche, Free Lives director Evan Greenwood, The Brotherhood co-founders Chris and Nic Boschoff , and Nolan and Arn Richert from Runestorm all weighed in.
QCF Design: If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen
Although communication skills was among the non-technical skills that Danny Day from QCF Design listed, he said that the most important skill is the ability to handle feedback and criticism.
“The internet is never not going to criticise the hell out of anything you make,” Day said. “In my experience, trying to work with people that can’t handle criticism makes turning feedback into useful progress impossible.”
Other important skills you will have to master as a game developer are empathy, and attention to detail, said Day.
RetroEpic: Communication, communication, communication
Megan Hughes from RetroEpic said that as a game developer, you’re going to be working in a team with whom you will have to communicate.
“Being able to communicate well with that team only benefits everyone and ensures a successful project output,” said Hughes.
“This includes being able to talk to colleagues who may not have the same technical knowledge as you do in a way that makes everyone feel good about the work they do, to being able to answer an email professionally and deal with conflict in the office space.”
Rogue Moon: Persistence, self-motivation, and self-discipline.
In addition to communication skills, you will need a tremendous amount of persistence, self-motivation and self-discipline, said Gareth Fouche, who founded Rogue Moon Studios and created System Crash.
“If you want to build something, you may need to give up some game playing time,” said Fouche.
“You may not be able to binge-watch TV series every weekend.”
Communication skills are very important, as you will need to know how to communicate your ideas – whether they’re art, programming or something else – and how to communicate with people you work with.
Free Lives: Positivity
Evan Greenwood, the director of Free Lives, said that they regard communication, positivity, and willpower as the most important non-technical skills.
“We want to work with people who make the people around them be more inspired,” he said.
The Brotherhood: Be a great problem solver
Chris and Nic Bischoff from The Brotherhood, which made Stasis, said that the most valuable skill is to be a great problem solver.
“Use the resources out there — especially online — to your advantage and constantly try to up-skill yourself,” they said. “Learn new software, new techniques, and experiment with new ways of doing things. Always try to push yourself!”
Runestorm: Learn by doing, and handle criticism for your work
Runestorm founders Nolan and Arn Richert said that if you want to develop games, you should master putting out projects without having mastered any skills, and being persistent.
“One does not learn to make games without making them first,” they said.
If there is a silver bullet for game development, however, it is probably that you should be very good at taking criticism of your work, they added.