The computer game industry is big business. According to the Entertainment Software Association, overall computer and video game industry hardware, software and peripheral sales totaled $21 billion in 2008.
Much of this success can be attributed to the unbridled creativity of the designers of these games, and the entrepreneurs and managers that marshal and tap these resources. In a recent New York Times interview, Will Wright, developer of The Sims, Spore and other computer games, talked about the motivations that play into successful computer game companies — lessons that can benefit even the most industrialized among us.
Wright’s main piece of advice was not to brood about or be sidetracked by failure, but to actually “celebrate” it, because it’s a learning experience. “There are certain types of failure that you really want to celebrate,” he explained. “I personally learned a lot more from my failures than from my successes.”
Wright also shared another lesson about dealing with staffs of exceptional people. They don’t just want to be managed, being told whether or not they’re doing a good job, he explained. “They want to be pushed and challenged in their career. For a lot of people, their job and their position are not the relevant part of how they see themselves. They have an internal view of themselves, their career aspirations, the direction they want to go. The really important motivational stuff is more in their secret identity.”
Building teams of diverse professionals is also important — not just for workplace enrichment, but for identifying with customers as well, Wright says. “I think there is a lot of value in diversity. Some of the early games we did tended to appeal a little bit more to women than most other games. So we started getting the highest-qualified women in the game industry coming to us first. So there’s a gender diversity and there’s an age diversity. If you look at a lot of game companies, it’s primarily 25-year-old guys working in them.”