Develop 2009: When a Creative Director Attacks!

 

Paul Barnett

The second talk of the day that I had a chance to witness was Paul Barnett's talk on his time as a creative director for EA, entitled 'When a Creative Director Attacks! or What I Learned this Year with EA!'. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from the talk, it was hugely enjoyable and anyone I spoke to about it agreed as well. It was a little confusing at times being a very fast paced speech, going off on tangents and finishing some explanations minutes after first mentioning them, but it still flowed evenly.

The useful pieces that I plucked from his talk however were that, ideas can still be exciting even if they're mundane tasks, this can be from carrying it out for the first time and being exhilarated from the fact of performing the task, or renewing a forgotten pleasure. It's how creative directors must think, as once a task has been carried out, once it's repeated it won't have the same impact upon a person. An example given of this is when you have someone see an iPhone for the first time and they become fascinated by scrolling back and forth on the menu, where as someone who has owned one for a while would find it idiotic to be so entranced by this. A creative director must make sure to stray away from this at all times, otherwise they will never be able to envision fresh ideas.

A large proportion of the talk was on how you're defined by your culture, I could relate to Paul as I seemed to have the same childhood as he did (just of course more recent than his), being raised with games. He was referring to it as our ‘Golden Age’; some may have theirs at other times with greater influence from other forms of media. After talking about how much these "Golden Ages" mean to us, we were then told to completely ignore them. As being a creative director that allows their history to get in the way will not work well with other employees. It stops workflows, everyone has a different history and will not understand everything that you may talk about. This can then cause arguments and will not help the development of games. His blunt way of putting it was that nobody cares about your history, so don't bring it into your work.

Paul Barnett

We were then told that every manager/director is either going to be a Captain Kirk, or a Captain Picard when it comes to working. Which is a little of a weird way to put it, but I felt that people may have the chance to be both at times, depending on the decisions being made.

The talk went onto what he feels is disrupting games at the moment, those things being the Nintendo Wii; allowing anyone to get into playing games, which then changes demographics. The market is currently disruptive, by now having free to play games, and the use of micro transactions, there now no longer being just simple buying when it comes to purchasing or playing games. Then of course the internet doesn't help things, from the elements of a disruptive market coming into play along with the use of torrenting.

Even though it was one of the less informative in a way it had to have been my favourite talk from the conference, just from the amount of energy and enthusiasm Paul expressed.

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