83 episodes

Building Better Games is about helping leaders create better video games through holistic leadership. If you’re a leader in games and game dev, you are who we make this podcast for.


Making games is hard, no two ways about it. Only 5% of video games that enter production turn a profit. We aim to increase that number. Through our own successes and failures we (and our guests) have learned lessons that will help you create better teams and better games. Leadership matters, so let’s get better at it together. Your team and your players will thank you.

Building Better Games Benjamin Carcich & Aaron Smith

    • Leisure
    • 5.0 • 8 Ratings

Building Better Games is about helping leaders create better video games through holistic leadership. If you’re a leader in games and game dev, you are who we make this podcast for.


Making games is hard, no two ways about it. Only 5% of video games that enter production turn a profit. We aim to increase that number. Through our own successes and failures we (and our guests) have learned lessons that will help you create better teams and better games. Leadership matters, so let’s get better at it together. Your team and your players will thank you.

    E63: People, Products, And Playtests: Staying Connected To Your Players (Republish of Episode 1)

    E63: People, Products, And Playtests: Staying Connected To Your Players (Republish of Episode 1)

    Episode 63: People, Products, Playtests (Republish of E1 of BBG)

    Welcome to Building Better Games!

    Due to Ben's recent knee surgery, we're revisiting one of our most popular episodes from season two. In this episode, originally titled "People, Products, Playtests," we dive deep into the importance of maintaining a strong relationship with the games we create.

    By the way, our discord community is live! Join here to engage with leaders and producers in game dev looking to make our industry a better place that makes better games: https://discord.gg/ySCPS5aMcQ 

    Key Topics:

    1. Playtesting and Engagement: We discuss how regular playtesting can prevent teams from getting lost in the technical aspects and keep the focus on creating an engaging player experience.

    2. Internal Playtests: We explore different company cultures around playtesting and how frequent testing can lead to better team behaviors and more successful products.

    3. Gamer First, Developer Second: We talk through the impact to our own careers of being a gamer before a developer and how this perspective can lead to better game design and development.

    4. Approach to Playtests: Aaron shares insights on the mindset and cultural aspects of playtesting, emphasizing the importance of playing the game from a player's perspective rather than just a developer's.

    Join us for this episode on how to build better games through effective playtesting while maintaining a meaningful connection with both the product and the audience.

    Don't forget to check out our new Discord server for game development leaders and producers to continue the conversation and solve the right problems together.

    Enjoy the episode!

    And if you're interested in more of our content, links below.

    "Succeeding in Game Production: What You Aren't Taught" online course for game producers: https://www.buildingbettergames.gg/succeeding-in-game-production 

    Newsletter: https://www.buildingbettergames.gg/newsletter 

    Ben's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/benjamin-carcich/
    Aaron's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/doublearon00/ 

    • 1 hr
    E62: What Leadership Skills Matter Most in Game Development?

    E62: What Leadership Skills Matter Most in Game Development?

    Are you leveraging the full potential of your leadership role in game development?
    Or are you stuck in the traditional tech-driven mindset?
    In this episode of the Building Better Games podcast, hosts Ben and Aaron dissect the common leadership missteps in game development and offer a fresh perspective on what effective leadership really looks like in the game dev industry.
     
    Key Highlights:  
    Rethinking Technical Expertise: Ben and Aaron challenge the prevailing notion that deep technical skills are essential for leadership, advocating instead for the power of soft skills and systemic thinking.
    Overcoming Systemic Barriers: Discover the systemic issues that can cripple even the most talented game development teams, and learn how effective leadership can overcome these challenges.
    Enhancing Team Communication: Explore strategies to foster better communication and collaboration within teams, which can lead to increased creativity and efficiency.
    Cultural Evolution in Leadership: Learn about the shift from authoritative to facilitative leadership styles in game development, and how this can transform team dynamics and project outcomes.
    The Role of Trust and Empowerment: Understand the critical role of trust in empowering team members and fostering an environment where creativity and innovation thrive.
     
    Curious to find out how these insights can transform your leadership approach and help you build better games? 
    Tune in, engage with us in the comments, hit that like button if you find the discussion valuable, and don't forget to subscribe to Building Better Games for more insightful explorations into the nuances of game development. 
    Join us as we pave the way to a new era of leadership in gaming!




    Courses built by game devs for game devs - check out “Succeeding in Game Production” https://www.buildingbettergames.gg/succeeding-in-game-production
     
    Sign up for the Building Better Games Newsletter for bi-weekly tips to help you lead game teams! https://buildingbettergames.gg/newsletter/
     
    Check out our website: https://buildingbettergames.gg/
     
    If you think we could help your studio or company build better games, email us at info@valarinconsulting.com to set up a free 90-minute call!
     
    Connect with us:
    Ben’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/benjamin-carcich/
    Aaron’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/doublearon00/
    BBG LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/company/building-better-games/
    BBG Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@building_better_games
    BBG Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/building_better_games/

    • 47 min
    EP61: How to Get Promoted in Game Dev

    EP61: How to Get Promoted in Game Dev

    Titles and seniority impact your ability to drive positive change.
    It’s worth knowing what promotion looks like so you can have the maximum impact possible.
    In this episode of the Building Better Games podcast, join hosts Ben and Aaron as they delve into strategies for climbing the career ladder in game development. 
    They explore the often overlooked tactics and mindsets essential for professional growth within the world of gaming.
    Ben and Aaron dissect the complexities of career progression, from the unspoken rules of getting promoted to navigating the cultural and structural intricacies of game studios. They address the controversial yet effective strategy of job switching for rapid advancement and the role of relationships in securing promotions.
     
    Key Highlights:
    - Insightful strategies for obtaining promotions within the game development industry.
    - An exploration of job switching as a double-edged sword for career advancement.
    - Practical advice on navigating company dynamics and aligning with organizational culture.
    - The importance of building and leveraging relationships to enhance career trajectories.
    - Real-world examples of overcoming barriers to promotion and the realpolitik of game studios.
     
    Intrigued by the discussion?
    Engage with us in the comments, show your support by hitting that like button, and don't forget to subscribe to Building Better Games for more insightful explorations into the art and science of making games.



    Courses built by game devs for game devs - check out “Succeeding in Game Production” https://www.buildingbettergames.gg/succeeding-in-game-production
    Sign up for the Building Better Games Newsletter for bi-weekly tips to help you lead game teams! https://buildingbettergames.gg/newsletter/
     
    Check out our website: https://buildingbettergames.gg/
     
    If you think we could help your studio or company build better games, email us at info@valarinconsulting.com to set up a free 90-minute call!
     
    Connect with us:
    Ben’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/benjamin-carcich/
    Aaron’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/doublearon00/
    BBG LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/building-better-games/
    BBG Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@building_better_games
    BBG Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/building_better_games/
     

    • 48 min
    EP60: Breaking Down GDC 2024 - Upcoming Trends, Triumphs, and Tribulations

    EP60: Breaking Down GDC 2024 - Upcoming Trends, Triumphs, and Tribulations

    In this episode of the Building Better Games podcast, join hosts Ben and Aaron as they recap GDC 2024, diving deep into the heart of game development, user-generated content (UGC), and the role of AI. 
    Ben and Aaron dissect the changing dynamics of game creation, pondering the sustainability and success of non-lifestyle games amidst a sea of thousands-hour adventures. They navigate the intricate world of UGC, unpacking its potential to accelerate the creation of diverse and engaging gaming experiences. 
    The dialogue ventures into the corridors of the Game Development Conference (GDC), unravelling current industry trends, the critical importance of bridging the chasm between developers and marketers, and the future of game production in an AI-infused era. 
     
    Key Highlights:
    A look at the role and impact of non-lifestyle games, challenging the norms of gaming success.
    A deep dive into UGC's power to democratize game development, enabling creators to shape the future landscape.
    Revelations from GDC, offering a glimpse into the collective mind of the industry, its trends, and its future direction.
    The controversial yet transformative role of AI in gaming, from enhancing content creation to redefining NPC interactions.
    Reflections on the industry's tumultuous waves, including layoffs and leadership challenges, and their impact on the creative process.
     
    Fascinated by the discussion?
    Make sure to leave a comment, hit that like button to show your support, and subscribe to Building Better Games for a front-row seat to the ongoing evolution of game development. 



    Courses built by game devs for game devs - check out “Succeeding in Game Production” https://www.buildingbettergames.gg/succeeding-in-game-production
    Sign up for the Building Better Games Newsletter for bi-weekly tips to help you lead game teams! https://buildingbettergames.gg/newsletter/
    Check out our website: https://buildingbettergames.gg/
    If you think we could help your studio or company build better games, email us at info@valarinconsulting.com to set up a free 90-minute call!
     
    Connect with us:
    Ben’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/benjamin-carcich/
    Aaron’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/doublearon00/
    BBG LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/company/building-better-games/
    BBG Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@building_better_games
    BBG Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/building_better_games/

    • 44 min
    EP59: Should You Be a Servant Leader in Game Development?

    EP59: Should You Be a Servant Leader in Game Development?

    Is true leadership about wielding power, or is it the art of empowering others?
    In this episode, Ben and Aaron tackle the often misunderstood concept of servant leadership within the game development arena. 
    They dissect the myths surrounding the philosophy, highlighting the difference between being a mere servant to the team and truly leading by serving. Delving into the nuances of engineering as both an art and a science, the duo sheds light on the importance of flexibility in leadership styles. 
    From the necessity of adapting one's approach to the diverse needs of a team to the critical role of continuous learning and adaptation for leaders, this discussion covers of leadership challenges and strategies in the complex world of game development.
     
    Key Takeaways:
    A thorough examination of servant leadership and its misconceptions, emphasizing the balance between serving and leading for effective team management.
    Insights into the dual nature of engineering in game development, recognizing the creative and technical skills that engineers bring to their work.
    Strategies for leaders to adapt their style and approach, understanding the significance of being a teacher, mentor, coach, or leader as required.
    The importance of continuous learning and skill development for leaders to remain effective in the ever-evolving game development industry.
     Practical advice on navigating organizational structures, team dynamics, and the ethical responsibilities inherent in leadership roles.
    Join Ben and Aaron as they unravel the complexities of leadership in game development, offering valuable lessons on how to lead teams to success while fostering a culture of collaboration, creativity, and innovation.
    Loved the episode?
     
    Don’t forget to hit the like button, leave a comment with your thoughts, and subscribe to stay updated on the latest discussions in the game development community!

    Courses built by game devs for game devs - check out “Succeeding in Game Production” https://www.buildingbettergames.gg/succeeding-in-game-production
    Sign up for the Building Better Games Newsletter for bi-weekly tips to help you lead game teams! https://buildingbettergames.gg/newsletter/
    Check out our website: https://buildingbettergames.gg/
    If you think we could help your studio or company build better games, email us at info@valarinconsulting.com to set up a free 90-minute call!
     
    Connect with us:
    Ben’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/benjamin-carcich/
    Aaron’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/doublearon00/
    BBG LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/company/building-better-games/
    BBG Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@building_better_games
    BBG Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/building_better_games/

    • 47 min
    EP58 Why Your Favorite Games Are Getting More Expensive to Make

    EP58 Why Your Favorite Games Are Getting More Expensive to Make

    Why are your favorite games getting more expensive to make?

    In this episode, Ben and Aaron dive into the escalating dynamics of game development costs and the transformative shift towards user-generated content and indie gaming success.

    They explore the astronomical budgets of AAA games, touching on examples like GTA 6's rumored $2 billion development cost, and contrast these figures with the efficiency and innovation found in platforms like Roblox and games like PUBG and Stardew Valley.

    The discussion reveals the industry's pressing issues, including the struggle for AAA studios to adapt to soaring budgets and the growing allure of independent game development. Ben and Aaron dissect the implications of these trends for game developers, leaders, and the broader landscape of the industry.

    Key Takeaways:

    - An analytical deep dive into the rising costs of AAA game development and its sustainability in the current economic climate.
    - Exploration of the growing significance of user-generated content and indie games in reshaping industry standards and consumer expectations.
    - Insight into the challenges and opportunities facing game development staffing, emphasizing the need for talent adaptation and innovation.
    - The crucial role of leadership in steering the industry through these transformative times, with a focus on fostering a culture of collaboration, creativity, and flexibility.
    - Reflections on the morale within the gaming industry, urging a reevaluation of work culture, job satisfaction, and the path forward for game developers and studios.

    Tune in to unravel the complexities of today's game development ecosystem.

    Enjoyed the pod? Make sure you like, comment and subscribe for more!
     
     
    Courses built by game devs for game devs - check out “Succeeding in Game Production” https://www.buildingbettergames.gg/succeeding-in-game-production
    Sign up for the Building Better Games Newsletter for bi-weekly tips to help you lead game teams! https://buildingbettergames.gg/newsletter/
    Check out our website: https://buildingbettergames.gg/
     
    If you think we could help your studio or company build better games, email us at info@valarinconsulting.com to set up a free 90-minute call!
     
    For more episodes, head to the Building Better Games Podlink https://www.pod.link/1559448378
     
    Connect with us:
    Ben’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/benjamin-carcich/
    Aaron’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/doublearon00/
    BBG LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/company/building-better-games/
    BBG Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@building_better_games
    BBG Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/building_better_games/
     

    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
8 Ratings

8 Ratings

bc likes you! ,

Great for game producers

I’m a producer in games who has some experience gaps and this show is incredibly helpful. Aaron and Ben draw from solid experience and also bring along great guests to speak on their areas of expertise. Highly recommend for anyone in games; required material for any leadership in games.

beebooba ,

Great podcast for game devs

If you work in the games industry, or just have an interest in how games are made, this is a podcast for you. The hosts are experienced and knowledgeable and discuss a wide range of interesting topics. Episodes are the perfect length without filler. Good guests, too. Highly recommended, especially if you work in production or similar leadership role.

CowboyJayBop ,

The Pod That Fills An Appalling Gap In The Game Infustry

There are so few mentors in this industry and so few organizations that place a premium on leadership & mgmt training and coaching and mentorship. Fast food joints have better mgmt training than game dev.

Every leader or budding leader in game dev should put this pod at the top of their follow list. Ben & Aaron are a gift and can help parse the murky & nuanced gray areas in an industry where there is no standardized or homogenous way of making game products. Devs are generally forced to make their own way through the maze of self improvement in the face of the ever present pressure to ship or hit the next milestone. We need more teachers and a cultural focus on education.

This pod helps fill the gap.

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