Friday, September 22, 2006

Culture Shock: Strunk & White are Dead

As a game designer, your top priority is clear communication with the rest of the development team. A good design doc is concise, easy to read, and uses all sorts of tricks to get others to read and understand it. The Elements of Style is the Bible.

Go up a bit on the corporate ladder and everyone's got a PhD in English Literature. You never "use" anything, you always "utilize". You don't "work together" with other people, you "synergize". Things that could be said in one simple sentence stretch on for paragraphs, because in the business world it's more about impressing or intimidating the other party than communicating with them.

In academia, where the whole reason for you to exist is to transfer knowledge and ideas, you'd think people would emphasize clarity. But listening to people speak and reading what they write, it sounds a lot more like business than game development. What's the point of sounding educated, if it comes at the cost of being understood?

Me, I'll take points off of a student's paper if it sounds like it was trying too hard to impress me with vocabulary. If I don't enjoy reading it, then something went horribly wrong...


Bert Snow said...

Ian -- great blog -- Dan Roy pointed my your way.

I'm SO with you here. (My father was a newspaperman, where communication was clearly the primary objective.)

In academia, of course, the unspoken objective is often to sound smart...but I agree with you that brevity and clarity sound smarter in the long run.

I'm going to enjoy reading and commenting here.

Ian Schreiber said...

Thanks Bert! Glad to have you joining us here.