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Amy Hennig on being a creative director: 'It takes a level of humility'

Amy Hennig on being a creative director: 'It takes a level of humility'

July 10, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell

“The important thing there, too, is that you’re doing your job right. You aren’t dictating to people what to do.”

- Creative director Amy Hennig on the role of a creative director during game development. 

Venture Beat provided an interview facilitated by Geoff Keighly at the Gamelab event in Barcelona last week, where game designers Mark Cerny and Amy Hennig discuss the misconceptions around the role of creative director, which often gets muddled. 

Cerny describes the difference between working with a creative director and working as one to be two completely different experiences, with the latter taking a lot of patience. 

"it wasn’t until I became a creative director myself that I understood the curse of being a creative director, which is this: you have the vision for the game. You know what it is you want to be making," Cerny explains. “You spend your time almost exclusively with the people who don’t understand what you’re trying to do. That’s the load you bear."

Hennig chimes in, comparing the process to parenting. "You can compare it to being a parent, which is a weird analogy. The good kid doesn’t get any attention. It’s the bad kid that gets all the attention."

"I don’t mean to have a positive or negative charge there, but trying to work through with people that are having a harder time, you feel like you’re neglecting all the people who get it and they’re off and running," she explains.

A common misconception around the role of a creative director is that they want every idea they have to be what goes into the game -- which Hennig and Cerny both agree is not what a creative director actually is.

"Inevitably it has something to do with having control," Hennig notes. "And of course that’s when we laugh, because the job is the opposite of that." 

"You have to get comfortable with giving up control. If you white-knuckle it too much, if they can feel your hands on the reins — some people can make good games that way, so it’s possible. But I don’t subscribe to that perspective, that way of being a director."

Cerny and Hennig were speaking as part of a longer interview around their careers, so be sure to read the entire piece over at Venture Beat. 

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