Effective Networking (Don’t Badmouth People)

by Darius Kazemi on May 21, 2006

in networking

One night, during a Game Developers Conference years ago, I was hanging out in the Fairmont Hotel lobby. This is where all the game developers get together after a long day of sessions and sit around in comfy chairs and drink and schmooze. In other words: a networker’s heaven.

I had spotted a guy I knew from the Boston Postmortem. Let’s call him Joe.

I said hi to Joe, and we started talking about random things. Eventually, I mention the name of John Romero during this conversation.

“Oh man, Romero?” says Joe. “I fucking hate that guy!”

Joe really runs with his hatred. He goes on. And on. And on. About how much Daikatana sucked. About how he had nothing to do with Doom. About every little thing. I was waiting for him to bust out with a complaint about Dangerous Dave.

Anyway, after five solid minutes, he’s still talking smack about Romero, when I notice something.

“Dude,” I say.

Joe keeps talking smack.


Joe stops. “What?”

He’s standing right behind you.

Joe turns around, and there’s Romero, kinda looking at him. I honestly forget Romero’s expression, but I will forever remember the complete and utter foot-in-mouth etched into Joe’s face.

Moral of the story: it’s a small industry out there. Don’t badmouth people. You might not experience a spectacular failure of cool like my friend Joe did, but it will probably come back around and bite you in the ass one day.


Patrick Dugan May 21, 2006 at 8:23 pm

I almost fell into that trap my first GDC. I think a lot of this bad mouthing comes from reading negative things about someone without having met them. I had this impression of Cliff Bleszinski that he was a vain glorious FPS monger who offered nothing progressive to the industry. When I met him after the game design challenge, and talked a bit about social gameplay and storytelling and all that jazz, I realized he’s actually very interested in progressive design, but he also happens to have a really sweet day-job (which seems to be the case for much of the talent in the industry).

So my answer, if you’ve got an urge to bad mouth somebody, go meet them, you might find they’re really pretty cool. Like Romero, I’m sure he’s a really cool guy, even if his design track record isn’t exactly sterling.

Brian Shurtleff August 11, 2007 at 7:33 pm

Also, it should go without saying, but people should watch how they portray themselves online, including what they say about people.

Game industry people, tech-savvy people that they are, are very adept at finding things people write about them online.

In some ways this can actually be a benefit for networking, as it can lead to interesting ways to start a conversation. Once I had written about someone and he had found my blog entry about him and replied with a comment – I ended up meeting him a few days later and joke with him about the experience.

But writing about someone in the game industry once also nearly got me in trouble when they found what I had written about them. Luckily she had a good sense of humor about it at the time, but I felt really bad that something I had said wasn’t nearly as anonymous as I had thought and had nearly hurt someone.

Mbinae January 1, 2009 at 12:46 pm

My question is: What’s wrong with people who constantly badmouth others? Seriously, there are people like that.

Patrick December 7, 2009 at 7:41 am

Update, I feel into this trap again after having some bad experiences inside an organization, it really detracts from you as a person as well as runs a risk. Then again I have a friend who worked with me in design, and he is just one of those guys who loves to talk shit about everyone, its like a sport for him. Ironically, he plays politics much better than I did.

Max Nichols June 10, 2010 at 11:59 am

Badmouthing people in general is something that should be avoided in an even remotely public setting. I cannot think of a single instance where vitriol will help a situation, whether it’s in a networking event or (god forbid) within a dev team. Especially in an industry like ours, which is often ego-driven, always small, and filled with (usually harmless) gossip and info-sharing.

daphny December 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm


and you said be memmmorrraabllleeeee

actually i guess i was nice about it, maybe

im such a nice lady

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