The IT. The Information Technology… Strange world isn’t it? I’m a video game developer. I studied computer science like almost all IT developers, I love learning technical stuff and have a way with computers, like almost all IT developers, I love fighting the debugger and profiler, just like almost all IT developers… So why do we have the feeling to be so different? I mean, we’re supposed to be in the same team but we act as weird cousins that can’t stand each other because of biased ideas we have. This is so strange to me that I was looking for a way to talk to someone about this. So when the Mix-IT crew asked me to give a conference I immediately jumped on this opportunity and said yes.
Mix-IT is a well-known conference here in Lyon, France. People come from everywhere in the world for two days full of conferences about very various topics (but mainly about Java and Agile techniques). No need to say that these topics are very far from my everyday life as a C++/C# programmer working in the most anti-agile environment possible: the video game industry. But the Mix-IT crew is known for inviting what they call Aliens. People talking about very different topics, far from the development world (like food, wine or LEGO stuff), because they feel like all experiences and knowledge are good to get. I’m not sure they consider me as an alien, because I’m in the programming business, but I’m not the kind of guy they usually invite as “normal speakers”. But they trust me, they wanted to know what I had to say about my job so I gave them what I got.
I don’t know about the part of the World you live in, but here in France people who do not work in the video game industry fantasize it (especially AAA/big bugdet game development). It goes like this for “civilian” people as for IT developers. IT developers have this little something very different from “civilians”: they have the theoric knowledge needed to make video game programming and a lot of them have one day dreamt to be a video game developer. I truly believe that our worlds should be mixed more often instead of only colliding sometimes when no one expect them to do. We have built a big wall between our passions and professions. A gigantic wall made of bias and prejudices. These prejudices are destroying our chances to one day live as responsible cousins who like each others.
So I decided to tell the entire cold truth about what it means to work on AAA games in France.
I have to admit that even if I’m now used to talk in front of an audience, it felt unusual for me to talk to an audience composed of IT people. At first I was dubious about the fact a conference about how video games are really made in France would interest IT people. I thought the room would be empty… there were very interesting topics discussed and explained at the same hour, so I supposed people would go there instead of spending time hearing my non-technical whinning about “boo-hooo it’s so hard to make games in France”. But, once again, I was wrong. The room was full… and a little bit more than full because some people were forced to sit directly on the floor. More than 100 people were there for my little talk… it was impressive.
It felt good to explain how my world works compared to their. But it felt even more good to see their reactions when I told them that we, the video game devs, have tons of things to learn from them, and they should do the same with some of the things we do. We talked about git, about scrum and agile techniques, and we talked about creativity, gamification and game submission to console manufacturers.
People were surprisingly nice, even when I made jokes about their boring work compared to my rockstar’s one… They are from the IT, they surely do word processing softwares after all… They reacted very well to my talks, and I had a lot of questions to answer to (I love this part of the conference). It was cool because a lot of these questions were pretty naive ones… the kind of questions we, AAA games developers, forgot to ask because they seem basic… but once someone ask them you realize that they’re more important that you thought they were.
The next day I gave a basic Unity3D workshop. There is nothing to say about that except: it was cool!
These two days were awesome, full of good vibes and interesting new people met. I enjoyed my time among IT developers. They made me feel like I was special, but special in the good way. This Mix-IT conference was so refreshing that I was surprised how smooth and easy it was. I don’t know what it will bring to me exactly, but it already offered me the opportunity to connect a little bit more with a world I still don’t know enough. IT conferences won’t ever have the same aspect after this. I have to thank the Mix-IT crew to have trusted me just enough to believe that I could add a little something to their awesome event. And if you were in the room listening to my shit: THANK YOU A LOT! I hope you learnt something there.