It happens. Sometimes, when you’re least expecting it, someone’s work — maybe even your own — needs a bit of guidance. Feedback, or “notes” as it is called in Hollywood, is an integral part of the creative process. Some may consider it a necessary evil, but no matter what you think, remember that it is always necessary.
Ever heard of the feedback sandwich? This hunger-inducing term describes the ideal structure for giving feedback. Positive feedback is the bread, while criticism is the meat. Feedback should be quite specific and relevant to the matter at hand. “You’re a friendly person. Your writing needs work, but overall, good job” will only serve to confuse your writer. The feedback sandwich for this paragraph so far might be: “I like how you start out with a question to engage the reader. You do tend to use passive verbs like ‘to be’ a bit too much. Overall, it looks like you’re on track.” Simple, straightforward, and honest. Why don’t more people use the feedback sandwich?
- “I don’t have time to tell them what they’re doing right.” Well, do you have time to hire a new writer after this one quits?
- “They know I like all the work I haven’t specifically criticised.” Oh, really? If your writer is half as neurotic as most, your writer may think you hate everything, but only had the time to critique the most serious gaffs. This scenario rings even more true in game development, when you often don’t have time to critique everything.
- “I don’t want to step on the writers’ creative toes.” Unless you will lose your job because of it, step on those toes! This may come as a shock to you, but the game industry occasionally suffers from a lack of good writing. This problem may very well stem from the fact no one had the guts to say “The emperor is wearing no clothes.” If the story or writing isn’t working, airing your thoughts earlier rather than later will save everyone a lot of time and anguish. If the story is working, your writers need to know that as well, or else they may change things for the worse.
What’s the worst excuse you’ve heard about not giving feedback? Tomorrow I’ll give you a warning on what NOT to do when giving feedback.
Last week’s line of game dialog came from GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS. Did you guess it right? More Guess that Game Dialog to come this week!