One of the most famous game designers in the west has delivered a wake-up call for the industry’s undiscovered talent.
Cliff Bleszinski, design director at Epic Games, says standing out and presenting one’s own views is exactly what creative people should be doing.
“It's not always easy for the majority of them, but the best thing you can do for your career is to be an actual name as opposed to just, and I hate to say it, a gear in the machine,” Bleszinski told Develop in a new interview published today.
“First and foremost, make a great game but also have a personality. Be the guy with the hip glasses, with the one gauge earring and the gamer tattoo all the way to the sleeves with a skateboard. Stand out,” he said.
“Be a person, be a brand. Just do something so that people know who you are. Have an online presence more than ever. Understand social channels.”
Bleszinski cited Markus Persson, the indie superstar behind Minecraft, as a timely example of how to be known and remembered.
“With Notch [Persson’s alias], a lot of the news from Minecraft comes directly from his Twitter account.
“Look at him, he’s got over 300,000 followers and he has the hat.
“Clearly the guy gets a certain amount of the branding right, he’s got the cool nickname, he’s got the hat he wears everywhere. You spot him and know what he looks like. He’s an example like Jon Blow.”
The thrust of Bleszinski’s message wasn’t about the success of standing out, but rather the lost opportunity in blending in.
In an industry filled with deeply creative people, it seems counterintuitive that so few stand out, he said.
“I mean, I’ve had developers send me their resumes who worked on triple-A titles and I’m like: ‘I’ve worked in this industry for 20 years and I’ve never met you?’
“They say ‘Oh, I never got to go to GDC or anything like that’ and I’m like: ‘Yeah. That’s probably by design, or people aren’t getting paid what they’re worth’.”
Though he only touched on the issue, there was more than an implication from Bleszinski that the industry doesn’t always best represent its employees.
“Now you only see agencies getting involved to make sure that developers do get paid well because by and large, those who are creative will always have the money surgically removed from them by those who are business people.”