Can I get away with being a mediocre programmer in a games start-up?


I have managed to get myself a job as a graduate programmer in a games studio developing AAA games - but just barely. I was hired more for my ideas than anything else - frankly, I think they made a mistake. They want everyone to be all round employees, capable of being as creative as they are technical - and while I feel this attitude is ultimately flawed, is none-the-less great for me as I'm getting invaluable experience in a game studio.

then just last week I met with a high-up of a company called games-capital who essentially said that they liked my ideas and that they would fund a start-up. They emphasised the amount of financial and business help they would provide, but told me that I would be in charge of putting together the team.

now, as well as learning a hell of a lot about everything from my current job - I have also learned this: I am not a natural coder, I will never be a great coder and in fact, I'm not even sure I'll ever even be a 'good' coder.

I am however very good with people, and I'm very good (let's just assume this is true for now) at designing games.

My question is - Is it a totally unrealistic to think that you can start a small games company and not be a programmer or artist? Is there any place in a company of a few people for someone who exclusively deals with the business / design side of things?

If not, how can I fit my frankly mediocre coding skills into a start-up?

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asked Mar 20 '12 at 21:06
Sir Yakalot
123 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • Welcome to Personally I don't think that this question would be good for the Q&A format here but I will leave you to ponder this: If you are a mediocre coder how would you recognize a good one? Or better yet how would you recognize that someone is pulling a fast one on you? – Karlson 11 years ago
  • I'm good enough to be able to realise those things. – Sir Yakalot 11 years ago
  • Also there are friends I could do this with who are good coders. – Sir Yakalot 11 years ago
  • In that full speed ahead! – Karlson 11 years ago

3 Answers


Try it! If you are good with people then it should work out. A manager does not need to be able to do every job in the organization, they need to be able to lead and motivate people who can do amazing things. You state that you've already learned a lot in your job. That's a very good sign that you can adapt and learn.

You need to understand the process to build your idea, and you need to understand how it will work but you don't need to be able to do it all yourself. The real challenge is building the team, keeping them happy and working to the objective

answered Mar 21 '12 at 01:03
1,231 points


We see hundreds of posts here from people with great ideas who have no technical expertise. They want to create a company based on their idea. What do they do? They find someone with the talent they are missing to handle that aspect of their business.

What you need to have is the ability and the drive to manage the process of turning your great ideas idea into something people will pay for. You can hire great programmers, you can hire great artists, you can hire financial and business managers.

You just need to manage the overall operation of the company. If you are comfortable with that, jump right in and get to work. If you don't have the drive to make your game designs work, don't bother.

answered Mar 21 '12 at 05:21
Gary E
12,510 points
  • but do you think it's an insane thing to do if you are a company of 3 or 4? Or should I just go for it! – Sir Yakalot 11 years ago
  • If you are passionate about your ideas for games and believe you can make the company work- go for it. – Gary E 11 years ago


Speaking with experience: I'm a programmer (initially wasnt a good one after my graduation) now after 5-6 yrs later i still think im not brilliant in the game - have been coding on/off. But here is the key part

you dont need to be a DIY plumber as long as you can understand what pipes and how to join them (critical so you dont end up hiring stupid / useless corporate environment driven programmers - no offence but they like to stay in comfort zone) hire a person who can understand / demonstrate deep knowledge of the subject and can engage in technical dialogue with you even better would be get someone you trust to carry out interview etc....

so in a nutshell if you are techie and can hold your conversation on the subject technically then go for it as you dont need to be coding / hands on all the time you just need to remember when is the programmer or coder pulling rug over you (and sometimes they do).

answered Mar 21 '12 at 21:42
126 points

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