How To Make Video Game Development More Efficient With Six Sigma

In a recent post for Gamasutra, Harvard Bonin outlines key steps that project managers and developers can do to make videogame development and design easier for development teams.

Six Sigma is all about optimizing efficiency. Eliminating “waste”, or inefficiency is especially important for game developers and other creative professionals. As Bonin points out, whenever a creative or interpretative element is involved in a team project, it creates extra opportunities for inefficiency because it is easier for different members of project groups to have “misaligned expectations.” For example, if a project’s goals are not expressly made clear to each member of the team, one developer will come back with a feature that another developer never included in the design. Problems like this create the need for rework, or more work.

Here are a few examples of ways Bonin says game development teams can avoid waste with a Lean Six Sigma approach:

  • While communication is key and helps avoid more work later, regular “status” meetings can be just as wasteful! So instead of going around the room and regurgitating what is already in a report or a deliverable sheet, Bonin suggests pointing out key risks or challenges that team members are facing with their parts of a project. This will keep everyone on the same page while trouble shooting and facilitating the exchange of ideas.
  • A good way to make all project goals clear is to post them regularly and clearly in ways and places that are accessible and visible to everyone on the team. This eliminates the need for scheduled meetings but gives everyone a common reference point and uniform expectations for meeting their common goals.
  • Create workspaces that facilitate collaboration. While offices and cubicles can be nice for concentration, isolating team members discourages exchange and collaboration for projects that are team oriented. Especially for challenging projects, being in close proximity to other people will keep lines of communication open. If teammates can communicate face-to-face without the delays associated with chat or email, this also eliminates more wasted time!
  • Even though creatives in general do not like to share unfinished work, it is important to encourage them to periodically review their progress with others to get feedback. This keeps everyone involved in the project on the same page without investing too much time in the wrong things. The best way to encourage developers to do this is by developing trust between managers and team members, so that they feel comfortable revealing their work for review or input before it is finished.
  • Finding shortcuts, or hacks, that create the same feature with less coding effort can be more efficient and reduce time waste. Hacking code can cut be a quick way to try out a feature without investing too much time.

Gamers: What are other ways you notice that your team’s development process by be hampered by waste? Using a six sigma approach can help you and your office develop games in a smarter and faster way. Try out our online training programs and to learn more about Six Sigma today!

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