Ethan Levy is currently a student at The University of Southern California, and holds an intern position at a game development studio which shall be known only as Super Duper Fun and Happy Game Co. for security reasons. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the third of a six-part series on breaking into the games industry.
Part III: The Importance of Insulation
You’ve built a strong foundation and erected the basic structure, now it’s time to ensure that what you’ve built is protected against the trials and tribulations that life is sure to bring. What that means is it’s time to add the insulation: those things that will ensure that you are healthy and happy in your daily life. As much as the skills you know, your attitude at work will determine your rate of success and failure.
One of the most important pieces of advice I have received during my time at Super Duper Fun and Happy Game co. is the following: don’t be a baby. No matter how skilled you are at what you do, things will never be perfect on the first try. In fact, nothing can ever be perfect. Every task that you think you have completed will come back to you many times over for revision, updates, tweaks and polish. So don’t be a baby about revising your work, because when your supervisor brings a task back to you for revision they are testing your attitude as much as your skills. And the best way I know to make sure you that have the attitude they are looking for is to foster in yourself the right attitude outside of work.
If you desire to work in the videogame industry, chances are you are a computer nerd in some capacity or another. And, if you’re like 95% of the computer nerds I know, you’re probably not in fantastic shape. I don’t mean to sound like your fifth grade gym teacher, but there are many important lifelong benefits to being healthy and active, many of which will contribute directly to your career success. Making your body happy will give you more energy during the day and help you sleep better at night. It will make your brain box work better and help you come up with fresh and innovative ideas. It will provide you with a good outlet through which to channel your stress and frustration, and help give you perspective when life is not going as planned. And, perhaps most importantly, looking and feeling better will help to build confidence in your interpersonal relationships. Self confidence is key to projecting a positive attitude at work; it will be an invaluable asset at every step of your career.
I know that this might sound like a lot of new age mumbo-jumbo, but I know it to be true from my own experience. I’ve been a computer nerd practically since my parents first gave me and my brother a Nintendo when I was eight. All of those hours spent inside playing Mario turned me into a huge fat-ass during my formative years. Over the past three years, I’ve transformed myself from an obese teenager into a slim and athletic young man, so I know just how much leading a healthy life has directly affected my success at Super Duper Fun and Happy Game Co.
What better way to ensure that you have a positive attitude at work than to show up at each morning with a smile on your face? The best way I know to make this happen is to make your mind happy. It’s easy when you are managing the responsibilities of school and work to forget that such a thing as leisure time exists. However, make sure you take some time each day to perform an activity that makes you feel good. Just like exercise, leisure activities provide you with an outlet for stress and help give you perspective. I find that my greatest moments of inspiration come during those leisure moments when I’m not focusing my attention on ways to make better videogames or on my schoolwork. Also, if you think about it, the medium of videogames exist to entertain. How are you supposed to build something with which to entertain the world if you forget what it’s like to entertain yourself?
Again, being happy helps to build confidence. I cannot emphasize enough just how important this will be to your success in this or any other business. Confidence is what separates the winners from the losers, the adults from the children. In keeping your body healthy and your mind happy, you will be able to prove yourself as a mature adult capable of handling the crisis that will challenge you both on and off the job. This is what will protect you when life gets tough. This is the insulation that will ensure that you are built to weather the storm.