There are times when people just want to get their head down and get their stuff done. As a coder myself, I know the importance of having a stretch of uninterrupted time to finish a thought when coding. Switching tasks abruptly can ruin the rhythm and flow of the creative process – it can take time to regain that momentum once you have been disturbed.
Constant interruption slowing down completing your tasks might cause you to seek solitude. Solitude is useful at times and a good producer / manager will shield you, as a creator, from interruptions or interference when what you have to finish is more critical than anything that you could be interrupted for. The danger is that prolonged isolation causes segregation – information becomes filtered from what you need to know to what someone else thinks you need to know. Communication happens on the side of the listener, but a listener has no chance of communicating if they are being shielded from what is being said.
The funny part of all this is that a person can be in both situations at once. They can be told too much and expected to be reactionary to one type of thing and not find out about something else that would help them be more effective. This kind of dysfunction can occur internally in a team, but is perhaps more likely to occur between different teams where information exchange is naturally more guarded.
To counteract too many interruptions, try learning the power of saying no – do not take on more than what you can do. Make sure if you are being constantly interrupted that this is accounted for in your estimates. Let the person know that if you do x, that will mean y will have to wait.
If you are feeling left out of the loop make sure you take time to talk to people. Build some time in to your day to keep in touch – instead of waiting at your desk for a long build to complete, go interact with someone. Studios and companies are defined by their people and their interactions; without people you just have some office furniture in an empty building. If you are work for a big company, during lunch try introducing yourself to different people now and again. If you are a programmer that always hangs out with programmers, why not try and make a connection with an artist. Try and dispel any “them and us” if you start to feel it.
Connecting with your colleagues can be a very rewarding endeavor – you begin to be able to introduce people to each other that can solve each other’s problems. It enables you to help more people, because even if you cannot help someone, you know someone who might. Connecting people might mean effort is not wasted or duplicated, and help work to be co-ordinated. You can get a better understanding of how a company works as a whole and through these small social actions make things better.
I have heard it said that many important conversations happen during smoking breaks. Relationships are sometimes forged during drunken nights out. Personally I don’t smoke and tend not to drink very much… but you do not have to smoke or drink to excess to join in these things now and again. Making new connections deserves some effort – people who seem to have many strong connections worked hard at it.
For small studios and companies it makes sense to make room in your calendar for local and industry events. The gaming conferences I have been to have had some amazing lectures. A person who just went to those and did not try and socialize missed out on an opportunity though. For smaller companies in particular it is vital to have trusted peers you can share ideas with and swap tips; so many important things happen as a side effect of the main event.
At the end of Mike and Matt’s recent #AltDevBlogADay podcast (March 17th) they stated an aim for #AltDevBlogADay is to be like a perpetual game conference. Although the web can never be a substitute for physically meeting people, it is a worthy goal and participating in it does feels a bit like a conference. If you are interested in game development and want to try and engage with more professionals, try a guest post on this site. Get your voice out there and start some discussions about something that is important to you – it could make a positive difference to your career!