There’s a good interview available with Joel Spolsky of Joel on Software, who is one of my management heroes. In part of the interview, he discusses his experience working for Viacom, the giant media conglomerate that owns MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, and other such networks.
And if you need to make some interactive websites or MTV needs a web server or whatever the thing is, then you don’t even hire programmers; you hire some people who know some people who might know something about the technology [...]
A company that is not designed to create high-tech products is very unlikely to have the culture or the DNA that it takes to create high-tech products. It’s very unlikely that the kind of people who would be successful in an entertainment company would even understand what programmers do that makes them more than typists.
Hmm. Look at that last sentence in the light of video game companies. This gets down to the crucial question that has never been really answered about video game companies: are we entertainment companies, or are we software companies?
I happen to believe the latter, but that’s mostly because the companies that approach game development from the software development angle tend to produce better games. On the other hand, the companies that approach things from the entertainment company angle tend to sell more games. Maybe the ideal game company is a combination of both. I’m not sure.