Posted by Jonny Arnold on 8th January 2015
This article dropped into my Twitter feed, courtesy of Jeff Atwood, and reports some interesting findings from The Game Outcomes Project:
The Game Outcomes Project was a systematic, large-scale study designed to deduce the factors that make the most effective game development teams different from the rest.
As it provided an interesting set of findings (and because I'm a self-centred soul), I wanted to discuss the question of whether its findings applied to web application development.
The biggest reason why this project should be taken seriously is one of scale: 771 questionnaires were filled in to make up the data set for this project, with each respondent being asked around 100 questions each. This is a few more questions that we would be comfortable asking at Reevoo, but it does give a large data set to work on.
If you've got this far, and you haven't read the article, do it now - like all good articles, the pretty diagrams and tables hold the greatest importance, so you can skim it.
By looking at the correlations between developers' opinions of teams and the feedback on the finished product, the authors have shown first-hand that culture is one of the most important factors in product success.
From the article we can come up with a number of strategies for effective teams. I've listed the top 3 (based on correlation score) here:
An important question to answer is whether the findings from the Game Outcomes Project are applicable to general software development. To answer this question, it's useful to list the places where games development is different from web application development. Personally I don't feel there are many differences, but something that is often more prominent in games development is pressure, as mentioned in this Stack Overflow post.
Does the increased pressure exclude the findings of the Game Outcomes Project from applying to web application development? I would propose not: instead I would say that it may make it easier to spot the important things.
I suggest that the increased pressure would cause respondents' opinions to be more extreme. This would manifest itself in more extreme scores in the questionnaire. If my suggestion is correct (and I emphasise that I'm making things up here!) then I believe the net effect would be that it is easier to spot the most important issues developers face.
If my hypothesis is correct, that means we can use the findings for web development - but how do I use the findings?
The listed strategies above are rather high-level goals. What can I do to encourage these behaviours for success? Here are a few of my suggestions:
You should be able to see the direct relation between these points and the findings from the Games Outcomes Project.
To paraphrase myself (already!), I would suggest being enthusiastic. If you aren't, figure out why and change it. It may well be that the company you're working for doesn't think the same way you do - if it does, change it or move!
Two parts of the Game Outcomes Project have been released: the first one is here, but is much more games-specific.
Follow @GameOutcomes on Twitter for more interesting nuggets of information and announcements about further articles.
Thank you to Reevoo Engineering, who were subjected to this article before it was released from captivity. Special thanks to Jayson Robinson for helpful input.