Monday, February 24, 2014

How do You Pull the Thorn Out of the Hiring Manager's Paw?

Find the pain / solve the pain. 
Listen to the Pain - You Can Do It!

In my field, what you have done is far more important than where you went to school, so applicants need to focus on accomplishments. 

Applicants should pay attention to the hiring manager's "pain points" in the job listing. Often, hiring managers are looking to solve a specific problem at their company, and they tend to list the biggest issues they want to solve near the top of the job description

Applicants that highlight how they solved that pain at previous jobs with specific details, the applicant gains a leg up on the competition. 

Give some job descriptions a read and see if you can feel their pain. How would you change your resume to address it? Let me hear it in the comments!


Billy Joe Cain is an Executive Recruiter in the video game industry and has worked for Electronic Arts and started three game studios in Austin, TX. Since 1992, he has created games such as Wing Commander: Prophecy and SpongeBob SquarePants: Revenge of the Flying Dutchman.

Please connect with him on LinkedIn and mention you read his blog!

Monday, February 17, 2014

How do you leave an impression while networking?

Be present
One thing I realized when I started meeting people at conferences, etc., is that if you are going to go out to meet new people, you have to be 100% present in the moment. Talk to them with your heart open. Listen to what they say. Pay attention. Ask them what they do in their real life. Find a way to bond with them. You're not trying to get something over on them, you are trying to build a long term relationship. Companies come and go. Projects and products come and go. Relationships last forever, if you are genuine.

Listen to how you can help
Next, find out what they do. Listen for ways that you can add benefit to what they do. Are they having struggles with anything? Can you or your network help them? This is all about being positive influence in their sphere of influence.

Get help if you need it
If you can't do the above, go talk to someone and get your mind right. Therapists are good investments. Really. They paid off for me.

Once you can do the above, here's the next challenge: tell your new contact what you do in a clear, succinct manner. 

Short and sweet
Do not overwhelm people with information. People won't remember a chapter of a book. They remember the opening line of the chapter. Maybe. You've already told them who you are. You've already listened to their struggles. Now you have to tell them what do you do and what can you do for them. How short can you make that concept? You have one sentence. Give it impact. It's the equivalent of a resume; not an interview. That short statement may get them interested. Let them ask questions. Then answer them succinctly and honestly.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?
Ultimately,when you're at networking events, you have to not just make an impression, you have to leave an impression. What will they remember about you? Are you a helper or a taker? Helpers get more calls and get their calls answered. And that's the whole idea.


Billy Joe Cain is an Executive Recruiter with Mary-Margaret Network and focuses on the video game industry. He has worked for Electronic Arts and started three game studios in Austin, TX. Since 1992, he has created games such as Wing Commander: Prophecy and SpongeBob SquarePants: Revenge of the Flying Dutchman.

Please connect with him on LinkedIn and mention you read his blog!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Make No Mistake. Dave Arneson Was The Creator Of Fantasy Role Playing

The other day I was thinking about Dungeons and Dragons and how it affected my life. 

It allowed me to make friends, learn math and statistics, and write and think creatively. Most importantly, it let me escape into a world far away and face challenges created specifically for us by our friends (dungeon masters and other players alike) so we could figure out on our own how to get through, around, under, or avoid in any way our imaginations (and the rules of the game) allowed for. 

Working in the game industry, I had had the honor to have been able to serve on many advisory boards and through one of them, I had the opportunity to meet one of my heroes, Dave Arneson, at Full Sail University. 
The most humble man I've ever met

Although as a kid, I was under the impression that D & D was 100% created by Gary Gygax. That's what the books told me. 

When I met Dave in person, I would have still thought that, because he never made a point of it. In fact, he blew the whole thing off because that is who he was. He was the most humble giant I have ever had the pleasure to have met. 

Once I got to know Dave and hear the stories from his fellow teachers and friends, I realized that I had not known the whole story. 

The whole story didn't make sense until I got the opportunity to attend the dedication of a new gaming studio at Full Sail University, Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Studios. At that dedication, I met his daughter and his father, as well as the people that sat at the table while they all brought their piece of the Dungeons and Dragons' puzzle to the table. 

Dave was the creator of fantasy role playing. Really. The entire beginnings of the math at the heart and soul of the D20 system? That was his. The weird dice? His friend that played with him. Fantasy miniatures? Another friend. Tabletop mats with movement squares? Yep. They all made that happen and played D & D together in his dad's basement. 

And his dad let us know that they never got into his liquor cabinet, either. 

Dave became a teacher at Full Sail and blessed his students with amazing knowledge earned by his hard work and love of fantasy role-playing. 

The level of appreciation I have for Dave Arneson's creation of an entire genre of entertainment cannot be measured. 

His creation literally saved my life as a child. Not only did it open my imagination, it gave me a reason to escape into the library to avoid violent bullies at the schools I attended in my home town. 

Further than that, his creation led to the emergence of fantasy role playing video games. Which in turn affected the video game industry in ways that cannot be understated.

Joining the video game industry to work on an adaptation of one of the longest running fantasy role playing games, Ultima, was an extension of how Dave saved my life again. My Dungeons and Dragons background was directly applicable and I was able to make a living based upon my childhood dreams and fantasies. 

Luckily I got the opportunity to tell you this in person. 

Dave... you're my hero. 

If you'd like to learn more about Dave, Google him, or take a look at this piece put together about Dave at the dedication of the building that bears the name of his original D&D campaign, Blackmoore. Be sure to "Like" it on YouTube. He deserves it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

What Does Commitment to Gamification Mean?

Deep, meaningful, lasting gamification that creates loyalty for the users is not for the light-hearted. It requires constant management and adjustment to user performance. (And by the way, the benefits are financially rewarding.) 

Companies that want the most from their gamification results have to truly commit... and:
  • Be ready to fail. A lot. Until they figure out what works for their staff. 
  • Be ready to shake things up and do something unexpected. Especially when things are already working.
  • Constantly delight their players. 
  • Manage expectations. 
  • Have a strategy that is attuned to their audience. What works for the "sales" department doesn't work with the "production team," for example.
  • Know that incentives and rewards have to mesh with their company's culture.
  • Know their strategy must focus on end user objectives -- the desired behavior - and align with business processes. 
Since gamification is a method for measuring adoption and engagement, user avoidance of the gamification tools or systems should be a clear signal that something is not working. If your metrics are showing that people are not motivated, it may be time to modify your gamification strategy. 

This is why the best solutions are committed to a constantly evolving and constantly evaluated and re-evaluated gamification strategy. Gamification is similar to building and performing live maintenance on an MMO or a social game more than a game you'd release in a fire and forget "boxed product" scenario. This means a committed staff must continually review, measure, and adjust for user behaviors. 

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