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A Game Studio Culture Dictionary


October 6, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next
 

Those disciplines were coordinated by a group of organized adults and simulated customers... They were called Production and QA, respectively.

Going Down a Rabbit Hole: Discussing the full implications of an idea to its logical conclusion.

Offline: Where conversations are suggested to go if a meeting gets sidetracked by some off-topic discussion.

Scoping: A process where leads remove features from a game to meet deadlines.

Soggy Scrum: When some elements of scrum are mixed in with a waterfall production method.

All was well...

Adhocracy: Organization in which tasks are done by the people who realize they need to be done and / or are able to do them best. (see Pirate Ship)

Core Pillars: Identifying characteristics defined to make sure bets are safe. What at the three core pillars of the game? Jumping, Running, Talking Pies!

Drinking the Kool-Aid: A feeling of faith or trust in the direction of the company.

Making Bread: Used to describe the gruntier and less glorious tasks of game making.

Meritocracy: The philosophy where promotions are given to the hardest workers and best performers regardless of who they know.

Pirate Ship: Tends to describe a smaller studio in which things get accomplished with success despite a lack of formal process definitions.

Rotating Trees: Work with a very poor payoff to time ratio.

But then the honeymoon ended.

Problems arose amongst the humans...

AggroNerd: Hyper critical, combative, argumentative developer.

Alt-Tab: People with a reputation for not spending their time efficiently at work.

Babe Ruth: Developer who always swings for the fences, but hasn't got a great batting average.

Banana: A check to see if someone is actually reading something or is listening to you by putting the word "banana" into the conversation just to see if they notice.

Flusher: A phone conference where you're muted the whole way through (and probably not even listening.)

Hand Waver: A person who is great at performing animated, hand-gesture-laden lectures, but never actually rolls up his sleeves and does anything.

Idea Guy: Used to indicate a trench developer who doesn't want to do any work. Came about after a string of underperformers in other departments asked to transition to design and were thus given tasks like "learn the editor and build a scenario" or "learn the database" but, faced with such, decided they wanted a more mythical designer job.

Learned Helplessness: When a developer persistently reacts helplessly to a problem he/she is perfectly capable of solving, usually because other members of the team can be relied upon to solve these problems for him/her.

LSD: Light Sensitive Douche. A phase some developers go through where they get a bit of fame and feel that wearing sunglasses indoors is the right image for them.

NIH Syndrome: When the wheel is re-invented in code because it was "Not Invented Here."

Paper Awesome: As in, "Dude, that guy is paper awesome. He writes up all this crazy stuff and can't implement any of it."

Pixel Wanking: Analyzing a single frame for something that should not be analyzed.

Polishing the Bolts Before the Engines Are On: Spending time tweaking and arguing minutia when there are raging fires in core systems.

Shiny Object: the method of distracting incompetent (but unfirable) developers from hurting the project by derailing them into a harmless area of the game's development.

Sponger: Anyone who goes into a bathroom with their shoes off.

Relationships across hierarchies became strained...

Buzzword Compliance Pass: Adding a bunch of bullet-points to a presentation that have nothing whatsoever to do with the game but will certainly be brought up at the meeting by an exec, e.g., "I don't see anything on this update about leveraging social networking or microtransactions. How do you plan to ensure that your game has a high retention index?"

Cabal: A small group of employees secretly operating together toward ends that differ from those of studio authorities.

Eye of Sauron: When the project suddenly endures the fiery gaze of publisher executives and marketing people who have recently decided to start paying attention to the previously autonomous development team.

Failing Upwards: The phenomenon relating to high profile individuals who get placed in higher-profile positions with each successive failure.

Feature Creep: When unplanned features creep into the game through subtle and unofficial channels.

Hello, Monster: When you encounter horrible design decisions, often from a marketing exec or someone far from design. Like, "Why don't you just make the game open world?"

Ivory Tower: The floor where all the execs work and hand down decrees to the rest of the underlings.

Management Roulette: When you have every producer and lead coming around your desk several times over the course of a day to see if a feature that has been deemed important by upper management is complete yet, generally resulting in being pulled out of your train of thought every 20-30 minutes. You never know which manager will be around next, but you know it's just a matter of time.

Meat Shield: When middle management protects subordinates from the whims of upper management.

Peter Principle: The concept that all employees eventually get promoted to one level beyond their actual level of competency.

Pink Lightsaber: Something thrown in to give the IP Police a safe item to reject from your build because they operate under a directive to find at least one item to reject.

Publership: When team leaders distance themselves from the actual workload and behave more like publishers than leaders.

Quacking Duck: If something is blatantly wrong somewhere on the screen, it gives the execs an obvious aesthetic error to focus on instead of tearing something else apart which may have nothing wrong with it.

Reality Distortion Field: The phenomena that exists in the Ivory Tower that allows execs to set completely unrealistic goals and/or deny the obvious.

Seagull: Used as a verb to describe when a high level executive swoops in and craps all over a decision made in the trenches.

Star Chamber: A chamber composed of an insular elite authoritative body with strict, arbitrary rulings, secretive proceedings, and an inherent lack of objectivity that casts doubt on the legitimacy of decisions made.

Yellow Pixel: Counter-strategy to the phenomenon where each manager in the review process felt the need to "fix" something regardless of its relevance or value. It entails adding something obviously broken so that a producer could point it out and feel good about adding value.


Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

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