Being A Gaming Professional Requires Professionalism

One of my game design students needed help with his assignments last week and made an appointment to meet with me on a day when I wasn’t teaching class. Normally I work from home on days I don’t teach class since commuting in Los Angeles is so time-consuming, but I’ll gladly drive over to the Los Angeles Film School campus when I have a meeting, particularly if it doesn’t require driving during rush hour.

I arrived at the agreed-upon time, but my student wasn’t at our meeting location.  After waiting twenty minutes, I received this email from his personal, not school, email addess, which was something like

hey i cant make it to today i need to reschedule 4 friday

There are so many things wrong with this situation, it’s difficult to know where to begin.  So, I’ll just start with the little things and work my way up.

First, send work and school-related emails using a professional-looking email address. No one is going to take you seriously if you are identifying yourself by “iluvstarwars.”

Second, you are sending an email to your professor, not a text to your pal.  Don’t begin an email with “hey”.  If I’ve given you permission to use my first name, you can start with “David,”; otherwise, treat me with some respect by addressing me as “Dear Mr. Mullich” (and if you want to really get on my good side, address me as “Dear Professor” — that never ceases to tickle me!)   And for goodness sake, use proper English: spell out words; end sentences with punctuation marks; and capitalize the start of sentences, and the words “i” and “friday.”

Third, be considerate of my time — it’s valuable too.  As soon as you knew you were going to be late or couldn’t make it at all, you should have contacted me, rather than allowing me to drive thirty miles and then wait for twenty minutes.  Also, ask if you can reschedule for Friday, rather than telling me.

Fourth, apologize for missing our appointment.  Do I even need to explain that one?

Imagine if you were writing to your boss or a potential employer.  Do you think that you’d get that job or have that job for very long if you sent that message for a work-related appointment.  And if you think that there are more relaxed rules for school than for work, and it doesn’t really matter how you treat your instructors, here’s my fifth and last point:

Many game jobs are not advertised and many positions are filled through referrals and recommendations. Your classmates and faculty will most likely be your doorway into the game industry. What do you want them to think of you?

Although the game industry itself is often very informal, people working in it (and those who want to work in it) should always leave a professional impression.  The game industry is also very small, and anyone you come into contact with may have some influence on whether you get a future job.  If you treat them with a lack of respect, they are not likely to respect you enough to refer you for that job.

That’s a more valuable lesson than what the student and I were going to meet about.


About David Mullich

I am a video game producer who has worked at Activision, Disney, Cyberdreams, EduWare, The 3DO Company and the Spin Master toy company. I am currently a game design and production consultant, a game design instructor at ArtCenter College of Design, and co-creator of the Boy Scouts of America Game Design Merit Badge. At the 2014 Gamification World Congress in Barcelona, I was rated the 14th ranking "Gamification Guru" in social media.

Posted on January 25, 2016, in Career Advice and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Sherwin Steffin

    Hello David,

    I read with interest your comments on the behavior you expect from your students. Given the many ways public education has failed in its efforts to prepare students to enter the adult world, this individual’s ignorance of appropriate interactions with an adult comes as no surprise.

    Since nearly half of all students who enter 4-year colleges or universities are required to take remedial coursework in English and/or math, that this individual was unable to effectively communicate should come as no surprise. That you tell him he has made grammatical and spelling errors is unlikely to motivate him to improve his writings skills.

    What I find even more disturbing than the lack of writing skills is the attitude reflected in his failure to keep the appointment, give notice and REQUEST another time. This behavior indicates a lack of knowledge or concern for what we think of as “common courtesy,” coupled with any concept that one’s behavior has consequences. It apparently has not occurred to him that, as one of his professors, you have the potential to affect his ultimate success in the career path he is seeking.

    My suggestion would be that whenever you have the opportunity to meet with him, you direct his attention to his failure to see how his behavior can impact his long term goals. This alone can be of more help to him than any of the content he receives in your classroom.

    On Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 10:57 AM, David Mullich wrote:

    > David Mullich posted: “One of my game design students needed help with his > assignments last week and made an appointment to meet with me on a day when > I wasn’t teaching class. Normally I work from home on days I don’t teach > class since commuting in Los Angeles is so time-consum” >

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