By Matt "Thraka" Gilbert
ell, friends, like most of the developers, I have been busting my ass for E3 deadlines, but I am doing my best to squeeze in a column this week. Deadlines are, after all, a big deal. Commitments are a big deal. Thanks for the comments by mail. As usual, I didnít get to it all. I am beginning to realize that no matter how much I keep telling myself "Iíll get around to responding", sometimes I just donít.
Last column, I promised that I would be getting more into topics of interest to people other than newbie, and so we shall. Warning: there is some cold hard truth in this installment, so if you want to hold on to your Pollyanna view of things, bail now. If, on the other hand, you want to have some idea of what kind of bastards you may find yourself dealing with on occasion, especially at the dreaded Ďreviewí time, read on.
Yeh, for you old timers, this is a flame job. Youíll like it.
You are Not Da Man
The biggest problem that people have in this business is ego. Either they have too much, or they donít have enough. Too much ego will annoy your teammates, and it will make you miss important things they have to share. Too little ego is bad, too. If you allow yourself to be awed by your teammates, there will come a time when you have the answer to a problem, and you fail to provide it because you think it might be wrong.
And, of course, no one ever really has the perfect mix. If you think you do, then youíre way into the Too Much category. Like I said, you are not Da Man, and the more you think you are, the more trouble it can cause. You have to work with a team.
But what exactly is a Ďteamí? I mean, itís easy to say ĎItís a bunch of guys who work together to make some stuff.'í But thatís not all it is, not if itís a good team. You must not merely work together, you must work together with respect, or your team will fall apart. If youíre really unlucky, it will fall apart before you finish what you are doing, and that is about the biggest disaster you encounter in this biz. And the number one cause of this is finger pointing, and the treachery that goes along with it.
Iíll let you in on a little secret: most people on teams have not a single fucking clue how to behave. All they really know is that they are really cool, and could not possibly have an equal share of responsibility in any problems that arise. I hope, with this article, to have an impact on that kind of guy, and maybe shock him into realizing s few things that he has missed about himself.
You know the type: they turn in their little reports at quarterly intervals, dutifully slagging their teammates, as they imagine they are supposed to be doing, just like Da Company tells them. They keep a little black book of every mistake their teammates have made, and report it like good little Naziís. They tell themselves that they are telling the truth, and thatís how itís supposed to work. They pretend as if what theyíre doing is a Good Thing, a Constructive Thing, instead of the savage, backstabbing act of cowardice that it is. And the bad news is this: it happens all the time, folks.
If you are one of these people, wake up. This sort of behavior serves only one purpose, to buff your own sense of worth at the expense of your teammate. Itís unlikely to change a damned thing, and itís inevitably going to have very real effects on a very real person. Unless that person legitimately deserves to get fired, then youíre out of line for taking personal issues beyond your team. This is not kindergarten, and adults are supposed to deal with differences without dragging in teacher or parents. Whether you do something like this out of spite, or out of simply stupidity, youíre screwing with someoneís livelihood. Touchy feely bullshit aside, when you screw with a manís ability to feed himself and his family, you make him an enemy, and any stumbling, bullshit rationalization about your intentions after the fact is just that, a bullshit rationalization.
When you take a notion that youíre such a brilliant paragon of virtue that you are entitled to bitch about your teammates flaws, youíre breaking the unspoken deal he had with you to keep mum about yours. Itís a two way street, after all. Now, on paper, instead of two outstanding team members, you have two whiny, lazy, hard to work with, add-whatever-corporate-sin-you-like-to-the-list people. What did you gain? Jack shit. What did you lose? Besides a friend, youíve lost your teammateís respect.
Guess how long it will take you to earn it back?
The Military Team
I make no bones about the fact that I learned how to work with others in the Navy. Thereís a lot of gung ho phrases I could go into, but in short, I learned that you never screw someone over small shit. You never know when youíll be praying the guy who saw you fall overboard isnít the same guy you put on report last week because he had Ďan attitude problemí.
Take boot camp, for example. Itís team building at its finest. Know why? Because they teach you not to point fingers. They teach you to cover for those who are part of your team, instead of selling them out. You know how they do that? They make the slightest mistake a big deal. And when they find these mistakes, they punish the whole group with PT (i.e. pushups, situps, running, etc., you know, Physical Training) until you drop. This is known as getting Ďmashedí, and it happens a lot in the beginning, because most young civilians are self serving, ignorant pricks. But you learn, as time goes by, that there are ways to avoid getting mashed. If your teammate fucks up, you help him fix it, and you keep your mouth shut about it. Before long, it becomes second nature. You protect yourself by protecting your teammate. Usually, by the time boot camp ends, youíve learned the true extent of the lesson, that you are no better than your teammate. Heís saved you from grief, and you have done likewise.
This is a Military teammate
And this is a Military teammate betrayed by finger pointing
Who would you rather have on your team? Who do you have on your team?
And people wonder why I am anti-corporate. Watch yourself out there, guys. It ainít pretty. But it does indeed happen just like this sometimes.
Next time: Know Thy Headhunter!
- Matt 'Thraka' Gilbert is a console programmer, currently working at StormFront Studios. These are his own ravings, and have nothing whatsoever to do with his employer.
|Credits: Beaker's Bent logo illustrated by and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Behind the Curatain is © 1999 Matt Gilbert. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it. And ignore the man behind the curtain. He's just got a shotgun aimed at your head...nothing to get alarmed about.|