Post Mortems

Sifteo is an interesting company: we combine a game studio, a hardware development and software development group along with a retail focused sales and marketing team. Add to that an underpinning of startupness. What you get is an interesting amalgamation of cultures and working styles.

One thing I love from game development culture is the concept of the postmortem. I don’t think this is that common among startups generally, but it’s excellent. It’s a simple idea. The development team gets together after a launch and discusses openly two things: WHAT WENT RIGHT and WHAT WENT WRONG.

The benefits are:

learning. start-ups move fast and it’s easy to keep cranking without actually sitting back and understanding what is going on.

criticism. the culture around post-mortems openly airs critiques that many people don’t feel comfortable giving outside this safe zone. You hope everyone can be direct with one another, but that’s not a trait we all have. The postmortem provides this space, and it doesn’t take a genius facilitator to keep the discussion away from finger-pointing.

These post-mortems often take the form of interviews or articles for bigger projects. Game Developer Magazine features post-mortems each issue, generally written by the key developer or designer of a given game.

This practice seems super obvious to one culture but (from what I can see) is rare in others.

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