Board Talk – Brian Robbins for March 2014

14 March 2014

robbins_160x160A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a hiring manager from a large company in the game industry when they started lamenting about the “privileged” kids that were applying for positions in games today. His main complaint was that almost all of them were asking questions about what quality of life was like at their studio, and trying to understand how much they crunched, and if it would be expected of them. Apparently most of them had heard it could be really bad and wanted to know if that was true. This manager hated that fact, and felt that everyone “needed to put in their time” before they started getting so full of themselves to think that they wouldn’t need to crunch. To him crunching was almost a rite of passage. He even went so far as to indicate that he wanted to hire people willing to work hard, not “babies” that were so concerned about the amount of hours they put in.

This, more than anything else I can think of, illuminated just how far this industry has come since I joined the IGDA board, and how far we still have to go. On the one hand, I think it’s awesome that young people just getting into the industry are paying attention and asking about quality of life. Awareness and education is a huge step in getting this industry to move away from that destructive practice.

On the other hand, it is obvious that we still have a long way to go when hiring managers think someone is “a baby” for asking about how many hours they will be expected to work and whether or not a studio crunches. It’s particularly appalling to me that not only are there still people who think crunch is okay but that they are offended when someone feels so “privileged” to ask about it as part of the interview process. While I personally believe (and have the data to back me up) that crunch does not enhance productivity and is bad for the studio, the individual and the final product, I still think that it’s up to each individual to decide what they are and are not willing to do. I don’t like studios that crunch, but the ones that try to hide it from prospective employees are doing an even greater disservice to themselves and showing a complete lack of respect for their potential employees.

When I joined the board 4 1/2 years ago I had plans to transform this industry into one that treated its workers with respect, and celebrated their lives in and outside of work. I hoped that we could make issues like crunch and quality of life a thing of the past. While we still have a long way to go the fact that even students are asking about it shows how far we have already come.

This is my final month on the Board of Directors and I’d like to close by thanking all of our members, volunteers, supporters and staff for everything you have done to push the mission, vision and values of the IGDA. The IGDA is truly a volunteer association, and it is all of you that make this organization what it is.

Thank you!

Brian Robbins
Board Member Oct 2009 – March 2014, Chair August 2010 – March 2012, IGDA Foundation Trustee 2010-2014.

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Board Talk – Luke Dicken for February 2014

2 February 2014

dicken_160x160Hey all,

My name is Luke Dicken and I’m one of your directors here at the International Game Developers Association. I’ve been on the board for just over 9 months now and I wanted to take a moment to tell you a little bit about that as part of a new monthly post from one of us to hopefully give some insight into what happens behind the scenes.

“The IGDA” is often referred to as if it’s some sort of giant monolithic black-box entity, but that’s not really the case. The IGDA Board are the top layer of the organisation, and we’re the people who are nominally calling the shots. Once we figure out a high level of the “what” we should be doing, Executive Director Kate Edwards steps in to make it happen and figure out the “how”. Right now the board comprises 7 people and we’ve got a pretty diverse range of talents and experiences in terms of our backgrounds in the games industry. Developers, producers, designers and even a lawyer working in the industry are currently part of the board, and we all contribute in different ways. It’s important to remember that the Board isn’t paid – we’re volunteers just like the majority of the rest of the organisation. In fact, we only have two paid members of staff, Kate and Operations Manager Tristin Hightower.

With 7 people all on the board, the vast majority of what we do day-to-day comes down to discussion. We can’t all be pulling in different directions, so we talk things out through email and conference calls. Ideally we come to some sort of consensus on what needs to happen, though sometimes it just has to go to a vote and the majority gets their way. However what that means is that who is on the board is massively important, which is why the elections matter so much. I feel really lucky to be working alongside people who care about the organisation as much as I do, even though we don’t always agree on things.

So what sort of thing do we discuss? Well,let’s take one recent example that resulted in a big win – the website. When I first joined the board, there was a proposed contract in play for a website costing around $50,000. The board sat down to take a closer look at this proposed contract and in the course of that a few concerns were raised about issues like ownership, portability and maintainability. We spent a lot of time talking it out and ultimately decided to go for something very different instead. We went from the vote to change course in early May to having the new site up and running – at a significantly lower cost – on 1st October, not quite 5 months later. Of course very little of the actual work was handled by the Board, we determined what we wanted to do and Kate and Tristin worked to figure out the best way whilst reporting back on their progress. It was a great team effort and highlights just what we can achieve when we all pull in the same direction!

As the first board member to be elected from outside of North America, one of the big things I find myself doing regularly is representing the non-US point of view. It’s hard because it’s very easy to slip into a US-centric approach when thinking about the games industry without even meaning to. It’s something I feel that the IGDA has done in the past and it’s something I’m having to work hard to avoid myself. I’ve been a chapter leader for IGDA Scotland now for over two years, so I try to remember to get some distance and look at things from the point of view of our chapter, rather than simply the Board view – and also to look at it from the perspectives of other chapters around the world whose different circumstances mean they have different needs.

There’s still an awful lot of work to do though. The organisation has a long and checkered history with as many lows as there highs, but what I’d really like you to take away from this post is that whatever you think of the IGDA, the people involved are trying very hard to make a difference!

Yours in service,
Luke Dicken
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2014 Board Elections are Here; Plus Meeting Minutes and Announcements – 22 January 2014

23 January 2014

Hello IGDA Members!

At the board’s recent meeting in December we approved the minutes from our November meeting. You can find them here: 2013 IGDA Board Meeting Minutes

Our next meeting will be this Thursday where the board will discuss, among many items, the 2014 IGDA Board of Director Elections. The Board of Directors serves as the governing body of the organization which supervises and controls the business, property, and affairs of the IGDA.

If you’re interested in serving the IGDA at that level and would like to run for the global Board of Directors please visit the 2014 elections page.

Coming up on this blog in the near future we’ll also have an update on our December virtual mini-offsite as well as a special post from one of our board members, Luke Dicken, as part of a new series of posts we’ll be doing on this blog.

As always, if you have any questions about the board or how you can be involved please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at board@igda.org or contact our staff and team members.

Yours in service,
IGDA Board of Directors
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Expanded Updates Are Here; December Meeting Announcement – 18 December 2013

18 December 2013

Hello IGDA members!

It’s December and just like last time we want to remind you that the time to start elections for the global IGDA Board of Directors is fast approaching. Look out for details about the 2014 elections to be posted both here and on the main IGDA site.

The board had their last meeting on 21 November and at that meeting we approved the minutes from our October meeting and you can find them here. There you’ll see the even more expanded appendix to the minutes including updates from individual board members and staff that we talked about in our last post.

Our next meeting will be held on Thursday, 19 December where we’ll approve the November minutes so you can keep following along on our progress. We hope these expanded updates give you a better look under the hood at the various projects, programs, and services the IGDA is working to create for you.

As always you can reach out to the board member working in your area of interest via email by using the contact info located on our About page – your questions, suggestions, and support are always welcome!

Yours in service,
IGDA Board of Directors

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New Board Meeting Format and Updates, Elections, and More – 08 November 2013

8 November 2013

Hello IGDA members!

November is here and we’re fast approaching the time to start elections for the global IGDA Board of Directors. Now is the time to start thinking about if you, or someone you know, would maybe be a great candidate to run for a seat!

The board had their last meeting on 17 October and at that meeting we approved the minutes from our September meeting and you can find them here: http://www.igda.org/?page=boardminutes2013 You may notice something new about those minutes at the very end.

In order to allow the board time to discuss items in more detail we started the process of having various groups and committees send in a report of the items they’ve been working on since the last meeting. This allows everyone to easily see what is going on in those areas ahead of our call so that we only have to take time out to ask questions or talk more about items that interested someone. These are not part of the minutes the board approves each month but added as an appendix to the minutes so that we can make sure you, the members, also see what’s going on.

For October’s meeting we expanded the appendix even further including updates from individual board members and staff to give you a more in-depth look at what is going on behind the scenes. This is a great way to find out what each person is up to so you can ask questions or get involved in the areas that matter most to you. You’ll see those additional updates along with the minutes from our October meeting posted on our website after we approve the minutes at our November meeting which will be held on 17 November 2013.

Yours in service,
IGDA Board of Directors

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