It's now been 8 years since I first started working in the Games and Entertainment Industry. My beginnings in it were indeed pretty rough after I left my first job in Valencia. Everything went downhill from there.
But not every experience I had was bad. In fact, and this will sound weird, my 8 years in the industry made me a grown man.
If you have been following this blog, you might have noticed I am a very thoughtful and analytical person. Every single situation I encounter in a day ends up being scrutinized until I can get something out of it. This has been why I suffered so much in the industry, but it's also the reason behind my great success.
All my previous articles about the games industry have been quite pessimistic and extremely critical. When writing these, the type of companies where humanity is lost is the ones I have in my mind.
Places where people in charge are not seen as people anymore. They are impediments to our growth, a wall we have to demolish every day. The higher levels of management lose their connection to the ground so much that we are seen as numbers.
What a cliché that is, I know, but it is the truth, and it hurts to be a number when you are putting your passion, your love and dreams, and even your sanity into your job. As toxic as that might sound, it is the reality of how artists live their lives.
Today I am not writing about those types of jobs and managers. Today I'm sharing with you all the most enjoyable and healthy relationships I've developed with the people I worked with and the incredibly important lessons I learned from them.
01. Know what Defines You.
Let's start from my earlier experiences. During my time in Valencia, Jose A., a very senior artist I used to work with, taught me a great lesson that I only understood a couple of days ago. This is just a Job.
What a simple statement. I was 19 when I first started working with him. All this analytical part of me hadn't grown enough to understand what he meant. For me, it wasn't just a job. This was my dream.
Suffering from it was justified, even needed if I ever wanted to become a great artist, which is absolutely true. Don't get me wrong, without this self-punishment of mine, I would have probably ended up being in peace with my mediocrity.
Jose's message was more profound than the simplistic phrase, and I understood why last Friday. He didn't let his experiences inside his job define him as a person.
He loved art as much as I did, but he understood that our true potential isn't determined by our experiences in a job but by our actions, how we build our relationships with people, and what we are cultivating inside of our small heads.
I'm not a bad person because I fucked up at work today. I didn't kill, hurt or harm anybody and wasn't making people's lives harder. I was progressing, which requires making mistakes.
In the end, I didn't have a reason to feel bad. It was just a job, and I had to learn to divide my professionalism from my personal development, this last one being the only important part of myself.
I had to stop worrying about making people that don't care about my well-being happy and start taking care of myself and my environment, which is a much more rewarding task.
02. Know your Limits.
Matt F. taught me peace of mind. When I first entered the studio where we both ended up working, I was about 23. I was still a very insecure kid. I was starting to be incredibly analytical back then, but the development of this trait of mine wasn't exactly going the healthy route. I was starting to suffer from Imposter Syndrome.
If you don't know what this is, here's a past article for this blog that defines it very well. I encourage all artists who think they aren't good enough to give it a read.
Back then, I didn't know what this syndrome was. I left work feeling that I hadn't done enough, and the little I did wasn't up to the company's standards.
One day, I decided to sit down with Matt. At that time, I didn't understand communication in the way I do now, so this was a pretty big step for me. I asked him a question. Am I doing enough? Please tell me, as I will trust you more if I know you can tell me I'm not doing well.
Back then, when someone told me I was doing great I thought they were just cowards who weren't brave enough to tell me the truth. But with Matt, this was different. His answer is stamped in my memory ever since back then.
"A person can only do so much in one day. We are humans, not robots."
This opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking about work. Since I had a set number of hours dedicated to work, and overtime was not allowed in that company, I knew I only had to give the best of me during those seven and a half hours, and that was that. I was able to go home at peace after it.
03. Trust your Team
After many years, Victor S. showed me how trust can be one of the most important things in a team. Before working with him, I had a set of rules for a great client/manager and artist relationship that didn't include trusting them.
If I had to find a reason for this, it would be their distrust in their teams. Managers usually didn't feel comfortable giving us ownership of our work, making it a slower and uncomfortable process.
They hired artists, blocked their creativity, and didn't allow them to be part of the creative process, which has always been a big issue for me. We were closer to modeling technicians for them, I guess. Give us a concept, we replicate it, and that's it.
Victor sees things differently. Our levels are ours. We choose how much feedback we want to apply to them. We are trusted to bring things to a level of greatness that is only achievable without constraints.
When trust is put in someone, you are allowing them to explore, which leads them to find what they are good at or need to work on, helping them grow.
This article has been super thick to write. I hope it was a nice read, at least, and that you can get something out of it. As you can see, a lot can be learned from other people, so make sure you connect with them!
I'd like to thank the people mentioned in this post for making me a better person as well. To end this, here's a question that should one day be answered:
What will you teach someone that will be stamped in their memory forever?