Idea Guy: How-To Guide for the Video Game Industry

Idea Guy: How-To Guide for the Video Game Industry

After having read this post, I’ve decided to write a sort-of response for the whole “idea guy” discussion that’s so popular in the video game industry.

A lot of people shame those who want to get paid to be the “idea guys” in video game companies for a, frankly, very justified reason: because the people who want to be just the “idea guys” are usually the kinds of people who are too lazy to want to learn the skills needed to bring their ideas to life or to do any actual work.

Yes, you can actually work and get paid as the “idea guy” in the video game industry, just not in the way you would like it to be, and here’s why:

  1. The executions of your ideas need to be able to make you money for reasons I hope I don’t have to explain, which means that you will need to do actual research and development to make them “good.”
  2. You are probably the only one who cares about your ideas, so, you will need to be proactive about getting them from the ideation stage into something tangible…because no one else will.

Still want to be the “idea guy?” Here’s the quickest way to do that:

  1. Be filthy rich.
  2. Pay a bunch of people to do your bidding.

A little short on cash? Don’t worry—there is another way, and here’s the short version of it:

  1. Study hard.
  2. Be hardworking.
  3. Network.
  4. Be professional.

Now, here’s the long version:

Study Hard

If you want to land a management and/or leadership position at a video game company in order to be the one calling the shots, you first need to learn a lot about all the kind of work that goes into making a game. After all, you can’t become a master chef if you don’t know how to cook, right?

I recommend you pick one area of focus which you will aim to master and then learn about the others until you feel you’ve reached a general-competency level. This is what creates a so-called T-shaped knowledge, which is the kind of knowledge profile that the managers and leaders at most successful companies have. For example, you might be a highly skilled programmer, but in order to not only guide the programmers, but also the artists and composers, you need to have enough knowledge in those areas to actually be able to tell them what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and explain why you feel that way in order to help them understand your vision better.

Be Hardworking

Unless you have lots of money to throw around or friends in high places, your only chance of getting a managerial and/or leadership position at a video game company is to gain enough knowledge and experience that such positions require, and the only way you are going to obtain it is by working hard. And by working hard, I mean: do lots of studying in order to gain the necessary knowledge to manage and/or lead the other departments/people in the company, work on your portfolio to showcase your skills, settle for junior and associate positions in order to gain professional experience, always be looking for ways to use your free time in a way that will bring you closer to your goal.


Networking is a huge part of starting and advancing your career anywhere, and with the existence of social media, it’s no longer a high-end country club that only the chosen ones can access. You can and you should spend more time networking if you want to become the “idea guy” at a video game company someday, and you can read more about this part in detail in one of my previous blog posts.

Be Professional

And last but not least, always be professional. What does that mean? Put simply, it means: be respectful, don’t be arrogant, and don’t be entitled. For more information on that read this blog post.

Did I miss anything? Are there any points you agree or disagree with?