The thing about being a good project manager is that you know how to design a framework which will allow a project to move from conception to completion efficiently and effectively. In short, an idea becomes a reality.
When I started to work as a project manager, I would never have thought about the possibility that this skill set could be applied to game design and development. Even though my entire career has been built on the idea of developing and maintaining a set of transferable skills, which would allow any idea – whether a film or a school curriculum or an advertising campaign or a singing contest or software deployment or city infrastructure improvement – to come to fruition, I never considered the way that project management skills would assist in game production.
That’s on me. Because in my mind, games were play and work was not-play.
It turns out that work and play can intersect. Align, even.
This might not necessarily be a skillset which every developer believes is worth an investment. In much the same way that not every writer will choose to invest in an editor’s expertise. And, perhaps for a writer who has a keenly developed editorial eye, an editor’s contribution is not essential for a manuscript’s publication. But for a writer to have not just another set of eyes on their project but a set of eyes with experience in the sector, the rewards are multiplied. A draft is more professional and better prepared to market, so it’s bound and published faster, reaching an audience rather than stuck in a folder unrealised.
In game production, a project manager with experience in the gaming industry and community can shorten your timelines significantly. (Shorter timelines on a successful project mean a shorter wait to recoup your investment. In other words, you see a pay-off sooner.)
An experienced PM will identify risks and pitfalls in advance and arrange the timeline to accommodate solutions. (Anticipating problems rather than reacting to them means you make the deadlines to which you’ve committed. You build your credibility rather than fumble with it.)
A team member with unflagging communication and negotiation skills can help resolve conflicts before projects are derailed and can mitigate even unexpected disruptions before they spiral into unmanageable situations. (Passionate creators can have passionate disagreements, but tact and discretion can keep a project on track: everyone can focus on pitching new work, not pitching a tantrum.)
I’ve never been one for drawing boundaries and borders. I think we create the life we live every day, whether that’s time spent at work or at play. And I’m suspicious of professional organizers who can’t keep their personal appointments, who seem to function adequately in the workplace but can’t schedule their everyday existence. But I didn’t understand how seamlessly my business career could fit with my off-hours passions.
I’ve also enjoyed seeing a project come to fruition, always been excited by a process design which was successful and profitable, but I’m truly passionate about managing game development projects. No more borders: I’m bringing every part of myself to the table now.