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The Game Production Handbook, 2nd Edition by Heather Maxwell Chandler

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EFFECTIVE
C
OMMUNICATION
In This Chapter
• Written Communication
• Oral Communication
• Nonverbal Communication
Establishing Communication Norms
• Communication Challenges
8.1 I
NTRODUCTION
I
n the numerous postmortems published by Game Developer Magazine,
communication is often cited as something that needs to improve during
the game development process. But what exactly does improving commu-
nication mean? How do people know whether communication is bad in the first
place? What is good communication? These are hard questions to answer, be-
cause everyone has a different way they prefer to receive information, which
means different forms of communication are more effective for some people
than others. People might think they’re communicating something clearly, only
to later find that there was a miscommunication with the other person.
As a producer, it is your responsibility to foster good communication on the
team and ensure that everyone is receiving the correct and necessary informa-
tion in a format they understand. Types of communication happening on a daily
basis during any project are written (email and meeting notes), oral (meetings),
and non-verbal (body language). This chapter discusses some general ways to
improve in these areas of communication and some simple ways to deal with
communication challenges.
Chapter 8Chapter 8
134 THE GAME PRODUCTION HANDBOOK, 2/E
8.2 WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
During game development, written communication is usually the producer’s
primary form of conveying information. How many emails do you send and
receive in a single day? For most producers and leads, it can be upwards of
100 or more—which is a lot of information to read and digest in a single day.
Each email interaction must be clear and concise, so that you don’t spend all day
at the computer handling your email, instead of interacting with the team on a
more immediate level. Here are a few guidelines for writing clear and effective
emails:
Use informative subject headings.
Put the most important information at the beginning.
Keep the wording concise.
Include specifics, especially for deadlines and other important information.
Set up mailing lists to reduce internal spam.
Use the high priority label sparingly, or else people will ignore its importance.
Use correct grammar and write in coherent sentences.
Use bulleted lists to quickly convey major points.
Use a font that is large and easy to read.
When writing other types of documentation, such as meeting notes or sta-
tus reports, many of the preceding guidelines apply. In addition, create a stan-
dardized format so that people can better understand the information being
presented. In some instances of written communication, especially if the infor-
mation is critical, you need to follow up with people in person to confirm they
got the email, notes, or report and are interpreting the information correctly.
This follow-up only takes a few minutes to do, and if the information is vital, the
time spent is worth the investment.
8.3 ORAL COMMUNICATION
Oral communication is the most effective form of communication, especially if
you need to discuss sensitive topics (such as bad news) or get the team motivated
to complete a milestone. Communicating with someone face to face is more per-
sonal because people can interact with you, and get their questions or concerns
addressed immediately. However, it can also be unreliable, since verbal com-
munication is open to interpretation, and some people are guilty of “selective
hearing,” and only take away the information they choose to.
Meetings, be they formal or informal, are one of the main forms of oral com-
munication for a producer. So make the most of each of your meetings. From a

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