Wednesday, 5 February 2014

From Generalist to Specialist?

One of the main things that has been introduced to us as we progress through the course is that often you are required to specialize to get a job in industry. After having more of an understanding of how big AAA companies work, it is clear why this is the case. In some companies your job role may be so specific that you may only be creating armor plates for a character or are in charge of only the foliage of a level. Yet, because the industry has developed to this point of such specialization, it seems that now it is starting to reverse slightly.

With a wave of new small companies opening, particularly with the growth of the mobile games industry, it is again seeming more like being a generalist is not exactly a bad thing. I keep hearing the phrase of 'T shaped' workers floating about, with a little bit of research it comes from the Valve Employer's handbook. The 'T shaped' worker is described as having a broad range of skills and deep expertise in one area. So for a character artist, you have a deep understanding of creating characters, but also a sound understanding of rigging, rendering, animation, etc.

Even to get into the AAA development, I still feel that it is important to keep up with lots of different skills. After speaking to past graduates who are in industry they still work on a variety of things, be that bug fixing, texturing, learning in-house engines, or just learning new programs in general. I think that one should stay flexible and keep an open mind to a variety of skills. What happens when you have done everything you can do? If they employee has other skills, they can go help in another area, someone without those skills can not. So surely the employer would see the person with more general skills as a better investment?

So as well all struggle on deciding where we want to specialize our skills, maybe it is better to stay a bit more general.