This required people to try and be ‘the best’ in their respective fields, especially coming out of education you where resigned to slot within a company in which you sat. Due to the shire size of the larger studios having one person turn a single cog in the production line was efficient to getting the job done. But now we are seeing more of a shift. The industry is starting to split.
The large developer studios still exist and will continue to, as they are able to make world record sales every year, but the smaller companies do not follow in the same footsteps as their larger siblings. With the increase in Indie developers creating games from basically nothing we are seeing a movement back towards where the industry began. It takes a vast amount of knowledge and ability to start a development from scratch with only a small team, as such being a specialist in only one narrow field of the industry doesn’t suit this kind of development at all. Which puts us at a cross roads.
Which route do I take? I’m an undergraduate student looking as to where I want to go within the games industry. Do I: A. Specialise massively towards the role I am most passionate about and become ‘the best’, constantly in hope there is the dream job going at the end for someone with my exact expertise. Or B. Do I try and learn as much about everything there is possible to know in the games industry in the short time I have left in education, hoping that there’s a small developer somewhere that needs someone that is the Jack of all trades but the master of none.
The answer, as given in the ‘The Valve Handbook for New Employees’ is neither. The ‘T’ shaped employee has started to be the way people are hiring in the industry, and it’s what personally I’m aiming my studies at to become. This model means that employers are looking for people who are both generalists (highly skilled at a broad set of valuable things - the top of the T) and also experts (among the best in their field within a narrow discipline - the vertical leg of the T). Something that is becoming more asked for within the industry, as it was referenced by Richard Tawn (Art Director at Exient) at a recent talk he gave to our course at University. Showing how developers other than ‘Valve’ are looking for the same thing in employees.
The games industry is ever evolving and as we see different job roles come and go the requirements to fill said role will change just as frequently. As of today, for the most part, ‘Valves’ idea of what they want from an employee seems to fit the best across the industry. This means not to be a generalist or a specialist but both.