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Archive for May, 2010

Artist vs Programmer – Right Brain vs Left Brain

by on May.19, 2010, under Developer Blog

Which are you? Most designers are one or the other. It’s just the way our brains work, you’re either primarily right brain oriented or left brain oriented. In creative business environments you may find disagreements between these types of people commonplace. Several years ago I was asked that question, yet uncommonly, I struggled to find a definitive answer after 3-5 years of self evaluation, but I did find the answer: I’m both… and only one at a time.

The last two to three years of my life have been almost entirely left-brain oriented, with a focus on programming and logic. While, the previous two to three years were almost entirely the opposite, right-brain oriented. I obtained a bachelor of arts in college, created 3d models, animations, textures, game environments, 2D art, physical art, writing, music, and other expressive forms.

Having experienced both sides in this depth has helped me find ways of switching from one side of the brain to another, and to take advantage of both sides on a single project with proper planning, becoming both artist and programmer, which I’m told is rare.

The actual switch itself is by no means instant, and I’ve heard from others who experience this, they also do not find it a quick process. Just a couple unexpected switches back and fourth in a day can ruin your ability to focus. Though a large benefit to this bridge between left/right thinking, for me, is the perspective. I’m able to take on a position similar to what a director might have, realizing ideas and actions from different areas into a highly appealing final representation for an audience, which is neither specifically art or programming.

Modern high-end design industries demand specialization in deeply involved areas, such as the game industry, where you’ll always find separated departments in major and even non-major areas. They have little interest in someone’s broadness of skills, because large teams are organized for people with single talents, and benefit the most from people who have taken the time to dive deep into their primary skills.

Certain job types, like web design, on the other hand don’t require this, making it very profitable (but unlikely) to find someone with a sufficient skill set, who has a multi-sided mindset because they can work at a single rate and provide all services.

After the several years I’ve spent dealing equally with both sides, I’ve chosen to focus on programming. If you think you may have the same kind of hybrid orientation I do, I still recommend specialization. You could of course choose to continue hybridizing with web design or something similar, which doesn’t require crazily deep pockets of experience, it pays more in the short term, and could be a career path much more attainable. So why would I choose to follow the opinion of a “professional” and specialize? Well let’s look at the reasoning behind their opinion.

Look at how much the internet has grown in the last, say, 10 years. Look at how many new online games there are, websites there are, and successful online-based businesses there are when compared to 5 years ago. Competition is definitely growing. When forward thinking companies like Popcap Games help lead the way for the modernization of our industries, it naturally takes away from entrepreneurs that would have benefited instead. (A specific industry in this case, casual gaming) I think the same thing will happen to the very popular recent evaluations of success in Facebook games. It will shift from “success of individuals” to “success of businesses” who will learn to adopt the practice.

Is a person going to be more willing to buy from an eBay seller individual with 50 sales? Or from a small team of sellers who have 20,000 sales and a proven streamlined experience? Go to Wal-mart or buy from the mom-and-pop shop? When it comes to design, don’t get me wrong, it’s very important to obtain an understanding of all aspects, but remember your best long-term odds still come by readying yourself for a team environment through specialization.

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