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Daniel Guertin on bridging the generation gap

Every year, thousands of novice developers come out of school, diploma in hand. These young talents find jobs and get paired with seasoned veterans who built their career on very different methodologies and creative processes. Bringing these generations of developers together can create amazing results, but also brings its own set of challenges. As a creative director, team leader, and mentor for students in their final year at the Isart Game Development School, I have observed a few challenges when generations join forces:

Game Culture Clash

The first challenge of bringing a multigenerational team of creators together revolves around their video game culture. Sharing a great moment experienced in a game you love is a good way to bond with other developers. But what if that game was released years before the other designers were even born? Or when a young designer tries to explain a feature’s vision by referencing an underground, indie-darling title?  This culture clash is, for many, a challenge to overcome. When working together, both generations need to go deeper than referencing a game to get their point across. They need to truly find the essence of their example, rather than relying on the other’s gaming experience. This means explaining the psychology behind a game’s structure, rather than referencing a specific game level. Another example is to expose the many intricate player choices that a game rule creates rather than saying that a weapon is simply awesome. While it requires more time and effort, it makes for designers who have a better understanding of what makes a game stand out.

Methodology Clash

Today, budding game designers can enroll in quality schools focused on teaching game development, but it was not the case for many industry veterans. One of the biggest challenges of bringing these different generations together on the same creative team is managing their creative methodologies. Seasoned designers tapped the excitement and awe they felt playing classic games to learn how to make good games. On the other hand, the younger generation has been trained in various development styles and techniques over the course of their studies and enter the business with a very different knowledge set. Often, younger designers feel the elders do not understand what they are doing, while veterans feel the younger ones lack the “wow” factors that made video games such an entertainment phenomenon. Mitigating their frustration and getting the best out of both generations can be challenging but gives incredible results. After all, if you can get an experienced designer to translate the awesome feeling of watching a yellow puck eat dots to a youngster who was born in a world of hyper-realistic 3D games, you have a team that can has potential for greatness.

Bound together by the love of video games

Bringing generations of developers together can have multiple challenges, but it’s not an uphill battle. No matter their gaming culture, studies, background, or age, they are all bound by their love of games. Getting them to talk about games, what makes them great, and why they decided to pursue this career path, is still, to this day, the best way to bridge the generations.

Daniel Guertin
Creative Director