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  • Do You Have A Game Dev Coach On Your Team?

    [08.15.19]
    - Amir H. Fassihi
  • In sports, there is always a coach, whether for a team or an individual. In the case of a sports team, the coach will make sure the members of the group are aligned and will perform at their best. The coach will turn the team into something more significant than the sum of its parts. We all know what to expect from those team coaches.

    While sports team coaches are very well known, we seldom talk about a coach in our game development teams. Does this mean that there is no need for a coach in this context? Or maybe the role of a coach is being played by somebody on the team without us realizing it?

    This article will try to analyze the role of coaching in a game development team to be able to answer the above question.


    Who is a coach?

    Whether we are talking about a sports coach, a business coach, an executive coach or a life coach, the simplest definition for a coach is: "A person who will help an individual or a group of people reach their goals." What is implicit here is that the coach will help the coachee reach the goal by "empowering" the coachee. Empowering is the keyword here. A coach is different from a mentor. The mentor is an expert in a domain that will focus on the techniques for learning. A coach is all about the big picture.

    In the leadership material, a transformational leader's definition is very close to the definition of a coach.

    A coach, how?

    The best coaches will move the team towards the goals by empowering the individuals. But would it be possible to reach the goals without strengthening the team members? It would be possible, yes. Shortcuts are sometimes available, but they are usually short term solutions. Sports team owners sometimes take alternatives to win the season, they make significant changes in the roster, raise media wars or various other strange activities. None of these activities would be something that a good coach would approve of; sometimes, these conflicts could lead to a coach getting fired. A shortcut decision example from the business world could be massive layoffs. It is important to note that coaching and the coach are always about the people, no shortcuts, aiming for sustainable long term solutions. They think about people first.

    A coach, for game development?

    Let's consider a game development team and see if we can find the coach. The goal of such a group is usually making a high-quality video game in a specific genre and by considering various constraints such as platform, technical, or budget constraints. The coach will be the person to make sure that happens in the team. She would be the person to empower the team.

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