The Importance of Separating Ideas and Emotions

Working in game development I’ve seen my fair share of conflicts over ideas and directions for projects. This is something that is very common when working on games because of the creative elements involved and the sense of ownership people develop when they create something they believe is interesting and good for the game. However, this is not exclusive to games, this sort of thing often happens in traditional development as well. This can come from things like code reviews where people feel protective of their own work or even just high level design discussions for different systems. There is always a need for conversations about these ideas because a group of people can always make something better than any one individual whether that be from feedback for improvements or potentially ideas that are just better for the given situation. The problem then comes from the fact that people by nature become attached to their own ideas, they fixate on their own pitches and have a hard time accepting feedback or that their idea might be worse than someone else’s.

The goal for us as developers is to find the best solution for a given problem in whatever form that might entail. This is independent of who came up with the solution or who contributed to it because in the scope of the problem, those things don’t really matter. This is why the separation of an individual’s ideas and the emotions associated with them is important. Emotions cloud judgement and inhibit a group’s ability to properly discuss and analyze a given problem causing the solution to be worse off as a result. In addition, stress and antagonistic behavior in a group can make working together difficult and just make the development experience overall very unenjoyable.

The best environment for collaboration and problem solving is one where people can advocate for their ideas, but are also accepting of others. This is not easily done, as it requires individuals to step back from their work and objectively analyze a given problem and the solutions provided, but to also feel like their ideas are valued and heard within the group. Only in this kind of environment can people collaborate on the vision and direction of a project without having to have an individual act as the anchor and focus point of the team. The best projects come from groups of individuals whose goals are to support the best decisions for the entire team and to create something truly unique and interesting.

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